Shut up Already: How Social Media Can Cost You Your Job
The last few weeks have been difficult for the country. Lines are drawn between Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, and All Lives Matter supporters and critics. Regardless of where you stand, everyone has an opinion about what should be done.
However, where do your professional duties end and your opinion begins? For years we’ve seen all levels of employees lose their jobs for their online presence. We hear it, but we still do everything wrong. Why? We think that out of the millions and millions of people with Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages, no one will care what I post. Everyone believes that until their post goes viral and posted on their company wall.
When I was kid the adults in the family would remind me to act like I had “home training” when I went outside to play or to school. The last thing I wanted was for it to get back home that I was not acting right. I was a reflection of them and bad reports were a no-no. And, your employer feels the same way.
There have been boycott rumors for Delta Airlines, Mac Cosmetics, and other high-caliber brands that are allegedly informing employees to not take part in Black Lives Matter events or online commentary. Our first reaction as an employee is, “You can’t tell me what I can and cannot do on my own personal time!” Oh, yes they can! As an employee, it’s your job to represent the company in the best light.
The last thing CEOs and PR departments want to see is the headline, ‘Bank of America employee arrested….’ Or, ‘Delta Airlines employee goes on racist rant….’ Once that happens it’s almost impossible to come back from that. So, how do you avoid jeopardizing your job and still be able to express your personal views on those hot button topics like race, politics and police brutality?
Read the manual.
Educate yourself on what the company rules are. Your employee handbook includes the policies of company representation. If the manual is old and hasn’t updated social media policies, ask your HR representative. Get all the information up front before you begin protesting or engaging in online arguments that can quickly turn ugly.
Don’t post it.
Does everyone have to know what you’re doing? Maybe I’m too old-school, but I’m not a believer in posting everything about my life. You have full control over what you post, so be mindful of hot-button topics.
Limit co-workers as online connections.
Separate business and personal when it comes to your online profiles. Just because your manager isn’t a direct connection doesn’t mean they’re not able to view. Maybe they’re connected to other co-workers and you just don’t know it. A friend of mine is a manager at a top financial institution and I received a call from her very upset stating her only teller had called out due to illness making her work on her off day. Later that day this very ill teller posted fun pictures at an afternoon baseball game. Her post about her fun Saturday resulted in a management meeting and reprimand. Don’t let this be you.
Have An Alias.
When it doubt just hide. We’ve all seen those phantom profiles created on Instagram and Twitter for people to say what they want without anyone knowing who they are. If your opinions are that strong and you just have to let everyone know, don’t post your personal information and photos. Papabear321 from Texas works fine.
Keep your posts to kittens and rainbows.
If you would like a way to avoid taking a side online, post quotes of love, shining a light on injustice, and making the world a better place. Who can argue with world peace?
*Bonus Tip* – Don’t bad mouth your employer about their policies.
If you have a problem with your employer’s policies on your online life and opinions, don’t take your grievances to public opinion. So, you want to boycott the company that pays you? I would review that decision unless you have your exit strategy in place. As my mother would say, “You have an issue about my parenting? Bye-bye!”
Your employer doesn’t really care about your opinion as long as you don’t bring it to their attention. They are in the business of protecting their brand and profits. Hot topics of race, politics, and police brutality have no winner even if the CEO agree with you. You are there to work and not bring them bad press. Your employer is not the enemy and it’s not personal.