Everyone (or almost everyone) is busy participating in some form of Social Media these days. How many of us have Facebook, Titter, MySpace accounts and have sent (or received) friend requests from coworkers? Probably plenty! I understand that lawyers now warn against bosses who “friend” subordinates, as it is known to intensify workplace grievances as well as legal claims such as wrongful termination, discrimination, and harassment….or at least effect employee morale, with accusations such as favoritism if the supervisor friends only a handful of subordinates. If you’re asking yourself how this could happen? Just think about it. A boss sooner or later will discover something, some personal attribute that the employee will have the opportunity to claim that any adverse employment decision was based on this personal information that the manager knew (religious affiliation, age, ethnicity, political affiliation, health problems, etc.) because it appears on social networking sites. This personal information is not supposed to influence employment decisions but oftentimes becomes readily available for viewing on social networking sites amongst “friends”.
Heaven help the supervisor (or co-worker!) who learns that their employee referenced being under the influence at work, or they make discriminatory remarks about co-workers, management, or their place of employment on social networking sites. That individual may very well find themselves obligated to investigate such behavior and report it to higher authorities at work. They are, after all responsible for complying with company policy, as well as state and federal laws – and there’s record that you knew – or should have known – as they are your “friend”!
I recently read that Office Team conducted a survey, and 48% of executives are uncomfortable being friended by those they manage. On the flip side, 47% don’t want to be friended by their bosses either. That means that over half of us out there on Facebook, Twitter, or here on GovLoop have “friends” either directly above or below us in the workplace “reporting” chain of command.
So I ask you, how are you going to respond to your next friend request from a co-worker?