5 stories to help HR pros get social media right

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HR professionals are very much online, but that doesn’t mean the two always play nice.

HR professionals are very much online, but that doesn’t mean the two always play nice. Sure, it’s clear HR pros love to encourage one another on Twitter and follow each other’s careers on LinkedIn. What happens, though, when a recruiter’s feed is interrupted by an employee’s shockingly inappropriate tirade? What’s HR to do when they stumble upon (or unearth) some not-so-flattering photos of an applicant’s most recent vacation?

These are questions HR has to answer regularly. To understand how to best approach social media, HR Dive looked into the most noteworthy instances of work-related social media uproar from 2019 and asked a few attorneys and professionals about the boundaries of life online.

Ryan Golden: Years after the popularization of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, social media platforms continue to bug employers and HR teams.

At times the platforms that grace our screens offer some benefits. They’re convenient, for one. They can help us keep tabs on family and maintain friendships separated by distance. They allow this Baltimore Ravens fan to watch quarterback Lamar Jackson’s 47-yard touchdown run on an endless loop for the rest of sweet eternity.

But in the workplace context, those same platforms can be absolutely disastrous given the wrong set of circumstances. And in 2019, social media offered us a stern reminder: What folks do and say on it can have consequences well beyond what they intended.

Kathryn Moody: If your immediate reaction is “obviously, I don’t need to read a whole column to know that,” humor us. Because there were some real wild examples that made this year stand out.

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You might have seen the Elmo poop meme story by now but if not, a refresher: A worker in Michigan claimed he was fired over a meme that he posted on Facebook while off the clock. The meme reads: “Boss makes a dollar, I make a dime. That’s why I poop, on company time.”

The worker’s boss didn’t find it very funny and texted the employee, telling him he was fired. The worker posted the boss’ response and sparked internet wildfire — the kind that strikes fear in the hearts of talent pros. Cue the Facebook and Google review bombing and tweets dragging the company’s response (though it appears said Google reviews, at least, have been scrubbed as of this writing).

While the company was legally within its rights, as explained by FisherBroyles partner Eric Meyer, and we don’t know the worker’s background with the company, the reputation damage has already been done. And while bosses have likely had to contemplate firing employees over poorly timed jokes before the age of social media, it’s only in our modern era where something like this (posted outside of work hours, no less) can blow up overnight. Everyone has a platform — employers and workers alike.

Ryan Golden: Sharing silly pictures is one thing, but newer features also carry risks. Social media platforms like Facebook give users extensive ways to broadcast themselves to anyone who cares to watch through the use of live video.

A live broadcast can effectively create a record to be used in unintended contexts — like a lawsuit — down the line. In June, a California federal court granted summary judgment to an employer that fired a worker after he took a Facebook live video of himself on a fishing trip while he was ostensibly on Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave. “I’m not out here,” the worker said in the clip. The court determined the employer had a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for firing the employee: misusing FMLA leave.

Kathryn Moody: But employees aren’t just tempting fate online. Increasingly, social media has served as the avenue for activism for employees seeking change at their workplaces. The Google Walkout at the end of 2018 was publicized by employees through a Twitter hashtag; employees all over the world shared photos of their participation as well as their solidarity with the walkout’s cause. And at Amazon, a group of the company’s Chicago-area workers used a Facebook page to forward allegations that they hadn’t been paid overtime during 2019’s Prime Week event.

Source : https://www.hrdive.com/news/resource-actions-how-social-media-challenged-hr-in-2019-1/567179/

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