Adding colleagues on social networking sites; is it OK?

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In these times of technology and social media it’s not unusual to receive a connect request from a colleague, but although social networking sites can be a great way to communicate they can also lead to problems.

Sites such as Facebook and Twitter are a great way for people to stay in touch wherever they are in the world. Just a click of the mouse and you can message anyone; friends, family and colleagues. You can add all these people as ‘friends’ or contacts and they are then able to see your profile and whatever you put on there. The problem with this is that many people put every detail of their lives on there as well as their ‘friends’ adding photos or comments that you would rather not be made public.

There is nothing wrong with adding work colleagues. Some people accept work colleagues requests because they don’t want to send the wrong message by refusing it. They feel put on the spot, and that they have no choice but to accept them. If this is the case you need to keep your social networking activities work appropriate and privacy should be a concern.

If you are connecting with colleagues, particularly on Facebook, you will want to try and maintain a professional existence. There have been many reports in the media about employee dismissals due to blogging about office problems. It may sound obvious but refrain from posting any issues with colleagues or office problems on these sites and don’t complain about your job.

Make sure you check your settings and update them regularly. Remember social media is public, so while privacy settings may protect you in some areas, you need to ensure that you have the settings configured properly. Otherwise you leave yourself open to people you aren’t connected to still being able to see things you don’t want them to.

Although social networking sites aren’t designed for business purposes many people do advertise their businesses on these sites. As an employer this could mean problems with disgruntled ex-employees. They are easily able to post messages and comments about the company if they haven’t been removed from the contacts. Even if these comments can be deleted it can do damage to a business’s reputation if customer’s do happen to see and believe these comments.

Having a policy for social networking incorporated in your staff handbook is a good idea. Putting together handbooks for existing staff and new starters is something we are very experienced in, so if you need help with yours we’d love to chat about it with you.

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