We are living in an age where many cannot resist the urge to document their thoughts, pronouncements and microscopic movements on social media platforms. Sometimes these posts are done on a daily basis, but for social media fiends, this may occur throughout the day. Online disinterest (in that “epic” sandwich they made at midnight or their early morning craving for a cappuccino) is not going to deter them from posting about it. Social media can be loads of fun, but tread lightly because social media can affect your job.
How social media can affect your job
There has been a fair share of incidents in the media about employees landing in hot water as a result of inappropriate social media behaviour. A while ago, for example, two writers at a South African men’s magazine were fired for joking about correctional rape on Facebook. They discovered the hard way that social media can affect your job. Making inappropriate statements on a public platform is foolish. Whether or not you may like to acknowledge this – as an employee of a company, you are its representative by default.
Yes, you have your own life, but if your social media rants are considered offensive, you could soon find yourself filling out a UIF form for bringing disrepute to your company. From an employer’s perspective, even though you are acting in a personal capacity, you have tainted the name and image of the company you work for as they become guilty by association.
It’s amazing how people often post status updates and tweet negative comments about employers, colleagues, working conditions, etc. This is pretty much playing Russian roulette with one’s job. It doesn’t take anyone smart to know that this is pretty much playing with fire.
Rather, refrain from this sort of behaviour. You may argue that you have configured your privacy settings accordingly, but that still does not safeguard you 100 per cent. As long as there are such things as computer screen grabs, you are never completely protected. You could have offended somebody at work and, unbeknown to you, that particular individual may have spotted you jesting or even slandering a work colleague or the boss on your social media profile. It won’t take much effort for him/her to notify management and that’s when the “fun” starts. While some deem social media as a superlative venting outlet, rather embrace restraint and opt for the self-censorship route. It is safer.
In corporates, such as law firms, financial institutions, etc., one has to be circumspect about social media tendencies. Personal social media activity during work hours is a no-no. While the rules may be more relaxed in work environments like media houses, employees of corporates need to take heed, as you can be disciplined for your social media folly.
Injudicious social media usage may even ruin your chances of securing a job. In the current digital age that we are living in, employers are increasingly trawling through social media accounts to gain insight into the type of person that a prospective employee is. It would be wise, perhaps, not to post your inebriated images from the weekend. Even commentary on political issues may ruin one’s chances of employment. If a prospective employer sees a political comment you have expressed, which he/she disagrees with ideologically, you may be perceived as a “troublemaker”. These days, it is routine for employers and employment agencies to conduct social media background checks on potential job applicants. So, desist from posting political comments, risqué updates or inappropriate photographs. Ensure that your personal material is for your trusted friends only.
In short, be sensible and act accordingly when using social media. Never forget, what goes up may come back to haunt you. If you are a serial social media poster, wean yourself off social media or perhaps do a social media detox. At the very least, ensure your posts will project an image of you as the professional you envisage yourself to be.