Network - Winter 2010 - (Page 15)
Social Networking What is private and what is professional? has blurred the line between what’s personal and what’s professional. It used to be that you could leave work and be whoever you wanted to be without your boss, colleagues or employees being privy to that side of your life. It used to be that you could let loose and not worry about that moment in time being viewed by hundreds later on. Those days are gone. Attendance at any social event past or present can easily make its way into the public eye with the advent of sites such as Twitter, Facebook or YouTube, whether you wanted them to or not. But where do we in HR draw the line between what is an employee’s personal business and what is our professional business? It was a lazy Sunday afternoon and Shana Smith’s* kids were down for a nap so she thought she’d hop online and do a little surfing. Smith, a Senior Human Resource Manager at a professional services firm in Calgary stumbled across a Facebook post from a manager in her firm that was “uncomfortable” for her to view. “I realize that my team members have private lives but I wish that this particular person had kept his a little more private. Do I really need to see his drunk and disorderly behaviour? Do his direct reports?” After a quick view Smith realized that the manager wasn’t to blame for posting the photos – someone else in attendance had put the pictures on their page and that particular person just happened to know both Smith and the manager through separate circumstances. So, what is Smith to do? As an individual this manager is entitled to go to parties, as an adult he is even entitled to drink alcohol. He was also not in any way responsible for either posting the photos or showing them to Smith. However, as an employee with responsibilities in a public company Social networking media that has a reputation to uphold it is important that he be viewed as a responsible person. Come Monday morning, should Smith mention that she viewed the photos and therefore the behaviour? Should she ask him to get the post removed? “The line is most definitely blurred,” says Catherine Koch, the Dean of the School of Business at SAIT Polytechnic. Koch says the line between professional use and personal use of social networking sites and the content of your employee’s online profiles is a completely grey area. Koch herself has an active Facebook page with family and friends as contacts. “Various colleagues have asked to be friends so I, of course, answer yes, but then I know that I have a different audience than just my personal contacts so I keep that in mind when I’m using it.” When speaking about the extracurricular activities of employees Koch says, “It’s OK to have some fun, but don’t tie it to who employs you. It comes down to respect.” Smith chose to “socially talk professionally” to her manager. She felt that the relationship she had with this manager was favourable enough that “addressing the picture would be received positively.” Smith took the manager for a cup of coffee on Monday morning and explained why she thought it was inappropriate. He totally agreed and the “picture was down by lunch.” Smith agrees that these situations need to be “addressed on a case-by-case basis. If the situation had been with an entry level staffer without managerial responsibilities the matter would be entirely private.” What about allowing your team members to access these sites while in the workplace? A recent report by one of the largest Internet security providers, ScanSafe, indicates that as many as 76 per NETWORK Winter 2009
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Network - Winter 2010
Network - Winter 2010
HRIA President’s Message
HRIA’s 2010 Board of Directors
Celebrating Excellence Awards
Recognizing Excellence in HR
Misconduct in the Blogosphere
Social Networking: What is Private and What is Professional?
Monitoring Online Behaviour of Employees
Privacy Legislation Impacts Talent-Management Programs, Too!
Breaching Privacy More Than a Legal Concern
Drug and Alcohol Testing: A Divided Nation?
Personal Information Protection Act
Index of Advertisers
Network - Winter 2010