Kimberley Swann, an office administrator in England was sacked last month for telling her friends that it was boring. Dan Leone, a stadium operations worker in Philadelphia, lost his job last week for criticizing management’s decisions.
Where they erred – they vented to their Facebook friends.
They didn’t mention specific people. They didn’t even name their employers. They just updated their Facebook status with what they were feeling at the time – about work.
Today’s social networkers should consider the lessons learned from these examples.
Know your friends. With Facebook, you pick who you want to be friends with. There are pros and cons to befriending co-workers, and there are advantages to separating your work life from your private life. Did Leone’s friends rat him out, or was he Facebook friends with his boss? Swann’s slip up was clear. She was 16-years-old and in her first real job. She wanted to make friends and fit in. Her downward spiral began when she added co-workers to her Facebook friends and then started talking negatively about her job.
Don’t alienate a revenue stream. You shouldn’t target any co-worker by name and should really try and avoid talking about workplace specifics on social media profiles. You have the right to express yourself; however, your employer can determine what’s “appropriate.” Swann’s employer felt that her comments about her job were a sign that she was not happy and didn’t enjoy her work. They didn’t want to continue to invest time and energy training her.
Control your emotions. If you’re going to share your feelings and opinions, or even vent online, be prepared to stand behind what you write. All you’ve achieved in your career can be gone in a flash. Leone worked his way up through the ranks with six years of dedication, but a few days after his status post, he was fired. It didn’t matter that he took the post down after two days. As far as his employer was concerned, his post was a bell he couldn’t unring.
There will be growing pains as social networking evolves – especially in the workplace, where one mistake could cost you your job. Swann and Leone found out the hard way what not to say about work online.
The next time you get ready to post something to your profile, add a co-worker as your friend, or vent online, think about what happened to these individuals and how their job loss could have been avoided.
Have you faced a similar situation? Do you know anyone who has? Let us know in the comments section below.