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How do I handle an inappropriate social media post? Ask HR

How do I handle an inappropriate social media post? Ask HR


How do I handle an inappropriate social media post? Ask HR

Johnny C. Taylor Jr.
 |  Special to USA TODAY
Johnny C. Taylor Jr., a human resources expert, is tackling your questions as part of a series for USA TODAY. Taylor is president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, the world’s largest HR professional society.The questions are submitted by readers, and Taylor’s answers below have been edited for length and clarity.Have a question? Do you have an HR or work-related question you’d like me to answer? Submit it here.Q: An employee of mine recently posted inappropriate content about our company to a personal social media account. I don’t want to terminate this employee, but how do I have a conversation about being careful with what is posted? – AnonymousTaylor: In a world where our personal and professional lives are frequently documented on social media, it’s critical for people to be conscious of what they’re putting out on the internet when they are off the clock. In short, you’re absolutely right to tell your team to be careful.I’m sorry to hear your employee posted inappropriate content about your organization, but your instinct is correct. Coming up with a solution starts with a candid conversation between you and your employee.During your conversation, I encourage you not to downplay the potential consequences of these posts. The tricky thing about social media is that once something is posted –appropriate or not – it’s out there forever. Emphasize the company’s policy regarding social media, if applicable, and explain how negative public comments about the organization could impact the company’s brand and bottom line – and ultimately, the employee’s job.I’ll also note some posts on social media may be protected under the National Labor Relations Act. You don’t mention what the content entailed, but if this employee posted on social media criticizing working conditions, benefits, pay rates, or even poor management, it is considered “concerted activity” and is protected.In other words, employees have the right to discuss pay and working conditions. However, it doesn’t mean employees have free rein to air their grievances online. They may even be subject to disciplinary action based on company policy. I encourage you to check state regulations regarding off-duty conduct.The Clubhouse app: What is the allure of the invite-only social media network?Social media is pervasive in our lives today, so your situation isn’t unusual. It might be worth reaching out to your HR team to reexamine any social media policies or reinforce existing guidelines and expectations to staff. Keep in mind, it’s not so much about controlling what employees can and cannot say, but about positively representing your company’s brand when an employee does decide to post something.Best of luck!Rude boss?: Should I report this behavior? Ask HRPaid time off: Is my company required to pay if I leave? Ask HRQuestion: When we were in the office, I had a co-worker who would stop by my desk at least hourly to chat (mostly about unrelated work things). Sometimes I welcomed the break, but many other times these conversations distracted me from my work. Once we return to the office, how do I politely ask my colleague to not come by my desk as often? – AnonymousJohnny C. Taylor Jr.: There’s no doubt people socialize at work – and it’s a good thing! Taking time to talk with our colleagues is how many of us strengthen our professional and personal relationships.Nevertheless, you’re right to make sure friendly conversation doesn’t impact your productivity. There are a few ways to let your co-worker know respectfully you can’t chat and need to concentrate on your work.Start by establishing some boundaries with your co-worker. Let him or her know as much as you appreciate the occasional impromptu break, you need to remain focused on work.Reassure your co-worker it’s not that you don’t want to connect, but you’d prefer to talk during a preplanned break, like lunch or coffee, or get together after work. This way, you are both able to focus on the conversation and won’t be preoccupied with thoughts about work.If you share your concerns openly, I think it’s a safe bet your colleague will understand with no hard feelings.However, if these steps don’t put some distance between you and your co-worker, you could consider bringing it up to your people manager. Together, the two of you can figure out a way to resolve the problem in a way that makes your workplace work better for you, your co-worker, and the organization.At the end of the day, you can feel good about addressing a situation that may have turned into a performance issue for both of you and for maintaining a positive work relationship.

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