Want to blog or post about your employer? You better read this first.
he more I read on social media, the more I see people who regularly discussing their work.
It’s not surprising as our jobs, for better or worse, are an integral part of our life. We work to sustain ourselves and maintain a lifestyle.
“Can talking about it get you into trouble?”
Yes. It can.
With anything negative in life – if you think it is a bad idea, it probably is.
There are many ways you can get into trouble if you choose to vent about your workplace on social media. Some might have minor(ish) consequences such as pissed-off colleagues. On the other end of the spectrum it can go right through to termination of employment or being sued for defamation.
The problem with social media is once you something is posted its permanent. Even if you think something has been erased from the internet you have already broadcast your message to people who were watching at the time.
The next time you want to complain about anything online, check the following:
1) Check if you are giving identifiable information
You may be able to get away with a general post on how you’re overwhelmed at work. But if get really specific into the details it could be causing you and your colleagues harm. In the event that the workplace suffers loss as a result of your actions and what you said is found to be untrue, it could set you up for a devastating defamation suit.
2) Honor your contract
Some workplaces require you to not breach confidentiality as part of your employment contract. Please look over it and make sure you are not in breach of any terms. Failing to do so can give your employer every right to terminate your employment.
Sometimes there are provisions in place for those who are uncovering a huge problem in the workplace. These are the domain of trade unions and your representative bodies. For example in Australia there is the Whistleblower Act. which was critical in the ousting of several unqualified doctors from Australian hospitals.
Most of the time online rants are unproductive and antagonistic, leaving the complainer looking worse than the workplace. Remember, what you post is online forever.
3) “Is it kind, is it true, is it necessary?” – Bernard Meltzer
A wonderful quote when it comes to dealing with anything on social media. Even if the other side is completely out of line, it is a perfect way to show your gracious side to the world.
Examining whether or not something you are posting is necessary will help you analyse its usefulness.
4) Think of the future
When you post something online make sure it is something that you would be comfortable having brought up in front of your future boss, or to those who you hold nearest and dearest to you. If you think you would be embarrassed by being attributed to it later on then you better think twice about posting it.
5) Deliver it in a palatable manner
The word ‘authentic’ gets thrown around so much on social media. These days, social media seems to equate authenticity with swearing, telling a dark personal story or pictures of what you had for lunch. The real amount of truly authentic information is slim.
As for what has happened at work you need to be able to structure your issue in a way that doesn’t make you look bad or cause the employer to lose business (even if that is the intent of the post in the first place). If an employer can directly link your article with a loss in their business, that can mean big trouble for you if it is untrue.
So if you do have a problem with your workplace and you want to talk about it on social media you just need to be equally careful how you say it.
6) What if I only have nice things to say?
Companies love having good publicity. But you still need to check some things.
For example, is your company responsible for maintaining private information? Industries such as health, law and finance are particularly tricky to talk about as their services involve a lot of confidentiality agreements.
If you are unsure you can always check with your boss – not only will they be extremely flattered – they might even help you in spreading the word about your awesome company (lucky you!)
There are a lot of implications that can arise when you want to talk about your employer or place of employment on social media. If in doubt, take a couple of steps back before you hit publish.
Better to be safe than sorry.
Until next time,
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