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Should You Let Your Employees Use Facebook?

Profile photo of Steve DiGioia Submitted by Steve DiGioia April 8, 2016

Have you ever thought how much damage one employee can do to your business? Should they be banned from posting on Facebook?

If you don’t believe so read on, you may change your mind.

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I have always prided myself with having a department staffed with positive and engaged employees even though the hospitality industry is one full of many challenges. My banquet team is used to working long days and nights with quick turn-arounds to an early breakfast the next day; that’s the business. But it doesn’t mean that anyone likes it.

One of the new challenges faced today, that was not an issue years ago, is having to deal with the Facebook’s of the world and their possible effect on your business.

We all know the power that “social media” sites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc. have on the youth of America.

And we all have heard and read that every business must also have a presence on these sites for marketing, promotional and word of mouth posturing. Having your business in the eyes, and on the lips, of the public is worth its weight in gold.  So it’s a good thing when your employees talk about your business on Facebook, et al., correct?

But what happens when your employees post unflattering, incorrect or downright damaging messages to their friends or “followers”?

How does this affect your business, your reputation, your impact in the business world?

Here are a few examples:

Employee Number 1

Doesn’t feel that she should have to work on a holiday since “all her friends are off from work”. She posts a message on Facebook that her job is “forcing her” to work on a holiday and that they don’t treat their employees well. She also states that her company doesn’t pay her enough to work a holiday and she is sick and tired of working when “we all should be off”.  This message goes out to all her “friends” and is possibly shared with their friends…

Well, gone are the days when a holiday is the quietest day of the month and the streets and business are deserted. Just ask the airline and retail industries if holidays are days that “we all should be off”. What about the police, fire and emergency medical personnel, or the utility companies; should they be off as well? Probably not.

But the friends and followers of this employee are now left with a half-truth or jaded picture of how that business treats their employees.  They may think the employees there are forced to work, receive lower than reasonable compensation and other employees are treated poorly and share her views too.

What follows next is that her friends will usually side with her viewpoint and will start a back and forth dialogue discussing the poor treatment she receives and what the working conditions are like at her “terrible job”.

Employee Number 2

Was just fired from his job for excessive absences, constant tardiness, or even theft and believes that the multiple chances already given him to keep his job is not enough. He feels that he was wronged by his termination and lashes out on Twitter when he gets home.

“They just fired me for nothing, so I came in a few times late, what’s the big deal?” he posts. “I have worked hard there for almost 1 year and this is how they treat me?” “This company is a terrible place to work” is the next post.  These tweets are “retweeted” over and over again providing a false account of the circumstances.

Of course employee number 2 will never fully explain the facts of his termination or that he has received numerous coaching sessions and other opportunities to address his job performance that ultimately led to his dismissal. But the negative comments stay on the internet forever, as well as their influence.

Employee Number 3

Had requested off from work but was not granted it due to business demands. The employee calls-out sick and doesn’t show up for work. The next day a fellow employee noticed a photo that was posted on Facebook of her out shopping with friends and going out to an afternoon movie.

When one of her friends asked her why she wasn’t at work Employee 3 typed “Oh, my manager has no clue, he’s not on Facebook, he’ll never know”. “Besides, I do this all the time”.

In this instance, the business is not so much affected but the manager is. He is maligned and his competence as an effective manager is damaged.

These are real-world examples of how employees can post seemingly, to them, innocuous statements on social media that can and will affect your business. Friends and family will usually take the side of their friend and believe what they are posting to be true, to be a fact, regardless if it is or not.

We are all aware of the power of social media and especially Facebook. Do you want your employees posting negative information about your business there for all the world to see?

Here are a few questions you must pose to your staff:

“Why do some employees feel it necessary, and appropriate, to post information regarding plans, procedures or possible scheduling needs about their department on social media sites?

Is it essential that your vast amount of Facebook fans or Twitter followers associated with your “pages” be informed that a company requires, as business dictates, staff to work when there is business? Especially for a business that is open 7 days a week? Should this even be an issue? I don’t believe so.”

“Each person within their department, as well as the management, has their own requests, desires, wants and obligations towards family and friends everyday of the week and not just on a holiday. Each of them has their own health and personal financial issues to tend to also. But is this the business of anyone outside this company? The answer is a resounding no.

But it becomes their business when you spread comments, posts and information on the internet. Then it becomes the business of all their contacts as well.”

Pretty cut and dry, no?

You might as well take an advertisement in all the local papers and TV news channels stating that Company XYZ is a terrible place to work and treats their employees poorly. This has the same impact as thousands of friends and followers on social media sites getting the wrong impression of your business. Is this any different than getting negative reviews on sites like Trip Advisor or Yelp?

A few negative reviews on sites like these can cost untold thousands of dollars in lost revenue, and broadcast a bad business reputation. All it takes to ruin your business is a few people, sitting in their pajamas and fuzzy slippers anonymously punching in harmful comments from their kitchen table. It’s the same for your employees on Facebook.

Of course this situation can be lessened with a positive work environment, well trained engaged staff that understands the customer service mindset and an open employee-to-supervisor relationship. This should prevent some negative postings but not when, based on business needs/demands, staff must work on holidays or can’t get days of as requested. At that point it is understandable that even the best employees may still gripe about their situation.

So your plan should be to set clearly defined rules regarding posting information on social media websites and make sure all your employees are aware of the policy.

Without it, your next customer walking through your doors may be the undertaker, because you have killed your business!

Or at least put it on life-support…

Share YOUR Facebook/Twitter horror stories with me in the comment section below…


This post was originally published in http://stevedigioia.com/blog/you-shouldnt-let-your-employees-use-facebook/ by Steve DiGioia

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Profile photo of Steve DiGioia
As a customer service trainer, coach, author and speaker, I use my 20+ years of experience in the hospitality industry to help companies and their employees improve service, increase morale and provide the experience their customers’ desire. The best part of my job is changing the mindset of employees to become customer-first focused and developing their skills to make them the best they can be. My book “Earn More Tips On Your Very Next Shift…Even If You’re a Bad Waiter” is an easy-to-follow training method that can be used across all industries, resulting in better customer retention and repeat business for your company. It's the blueprint for teaching "WOW" customer service. I continue my original customer service, leadership and management-based writings on my blog and am a featured writer/contributor to many of the hospitality industry's leading publications such as eHotelier, Hotel F&B Observer, Hotel News Resource, Hotel-Online, Customer Think, Bizcatalyst 360, and many more.
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12 Responses to “ Should You Let Your Employees Use Facebook?” Leave a reply ›

  • Profile photo of Sarah John Profile

    Hi Steve,
    This is a reality of what is happening now. The best way to deal with this is that strong social networking policy to guard against nonfactual and negative postings must be in place as an contract with the employee.

    Negative spread online could be devastating but what will alleviate the effects for businesses would be to have a realistic way to handle the situation, and this starts with having a social media posting guidelines – even for private accounts – so that everyone would sign and abide by!

  • Profile photo of Celine Profile

    Managers cannot stop employees from using Facebook. However, every business should have sound social media policy in place to deal with bad publicity on Facebook as well as on other social media.

    From the examples shared above, the employer cannot really control what the employees posted but the employer can defend itself by having a dedicated social media team respond to and deny all allegations against it.

    Of course, a solid proof should be in place when responding.

    So, its not the place of employer to allow the employee use his private Facebook account.

    The business only has control on its business Facebook account and the length it has to go in defending its policies!

  • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

    Hi Steve,

    “Should You let Your Employees Use Facebook?” This is a catch 22 question if one considers the fact that employees have the freedom to run their own private account.

    If the employee has to post events or issues about their employers then it becomes difficult to draw a line between what to post and the freedom of expression.

    To answer the question straight – employees should be allowed use Facebook for both private and public engagements.

    However, there will be clash between morality and right when it comes to what is posted and for what reasons.

    Employees should be fair when dishing out information about their employers because bad publicity can hurt a reputable fast.

    False information on social media should not be tolerated and must be avoided at all cost. If it means extracting a contractual commitment before the employees are signed-up , so be it!

    Sunday William recently posted…What Quality Is BEST SALEABLE If You Plan To Sell Your Online Business?My Profile

  • Profile photo of Barbara George Profile

    Hello Steve,

    I like this post but I don’t think it’s possible to prevent some employees from posting whatever they want to on social media.

    Even if you don’t let them use Facebook officially, they might still do that on their own.

    It’s very hard to police, I think.
    Barbara George recently posted…Lately On InstagramMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Krystsina Profile

    Hi Steve,

    I think that you’ve raised a very interesting question. However, talking about my position, I would say that there is a confidentiality agreement that can be asked to be signed to prevent the spread of negative image of the business. This is what I did for my own business, and I don’t feel nervous anymore if some of my staff will say anything bad about my business.
    Krystsina recently posted…13 Awesome Halloween Ideas for Your Small BusinessMy Profile

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