The Workplace and Social Media: Tips from an HR Professional

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As a duly qualified professional in the human resources field, I need to keep myself informed on the latest news in employment trends and articles by HR professionals.

This means I have to read a lot of buzzword bullshit.

Sometimes I do question my choices on this career path, but the damage has been done. I’ve invested so much in this field with my education and the five years that were remaining in my youth, so I should at least keep up with the “latest” “trends” as a hobby. While the particular work I’m doing now doesn’t involve having to snoop through employees’ Facebook pages (thank the lordy lordy imaginary lord), I still read a lot of news and professional literature that covers the topic.

I’d introduce this list as things that I’ve learned from this reading, but they’re actually rooted in my own common sense. Anyway, let’s not get off topic here. Here’s a short list of what you shouldn’t do on social media:

  • Complain about work in a task-specific sense.
  • Complain about work in an incident-specific sense.
  • Complain about work in a coworker-specific sense.
  • Name your employer unless there’s a positive corporate culture towards it.
  • Name your coworkers unless there’s mutual consent.
  • Friend/follow your coworkers unless there’s mutual consent and you really trust each other not to break any of these other rules.
  • Tell funny stories of things that happened at work that day.
  • Be a bigoted asshole.

The context of employment varies a lot from individual to individual, as do personalities and life events and how compatible they are with the vanilla-in-a-flavourless-edible-styrofoam-cone style of “good behaviour” in this stick-up-the-ass Puritan culture. If you’re going to post nothing but pictures of your kids, it’s probably safe to openly associate your social media presence with your work. If you post political opinions, only add former coworkers on Facebook. If you post nothing but stupid memes, do not friend your coworkers on Facebook because they will lose overall respect for you and create an unfriendly work environment. If you post inappropriate images or racist/misogynistic comments, do it pseudonymously, or better yet not at all…and also quit your job.

Avoiding these things will not only reduce the chance of conflict and prevent a hostile work environment; it will also give HR professionals and employment journalists less reason to say words or phrases like “social media”, “LinkedIn”, “Facebook”, “Twitter”, and “poked”. Yeah, people are still writing about getting poked on Facebook. I’m not even sure that’s an option anymore.

Not only will this help you avoid potential blows to your career prospects, but it will help you be more interesting on social media. Nobody wants to hear about your day at work. All they want to see is fart jokes and pictures of cats…and if you want to show pictures of cats to your coworkers, print them out and stick them at your desk so they can stop and look at them if they do in fact care.

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