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Facebook? More like Faceache, as 10% complain about boss online

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19th May 2010
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Just over one in ten under 35 year-olds have posted derogatory or negative comments about their boss or employer on a social networking site, although the number drops to only 4% of over 45s, according to a study.
 

Unsurprisingly however, the online poll undertaken among 2,384 UK adults in March this year by YouGov on behalf of recruitment consultancy Croner also indicated that social media was most popular among the 25 to 34 age group.
 
Some 77% of respondents in this category said that they currently used sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn to connect with colleagues who did not include their boss, with a mere 15% choosing to communicate with their manager in this fashion.
 
The figure fell significantly among older employees, however, with just under a quarter of over 55s and just over four out of ten 45 to 54 year olds connecting with co-workers.
 
Liz Iles, an employment consultant at Croner, said: “It’s clear that people want to use social networking sites, not only to connect with friends, but to extend this network to their colleagues and even their bosses. This suggests people’s attitudes towards their social and work lives are beginning to blur.”
 
But as such blurring was more prevalent among the younger generation, it could become a concern for those employers that were unready for such social change,” she added.
 
To reflect this finding, the research also showed that a mere 9% of staff were actively encouraged to employ social networking sites to help them in business activities such as marketing, sales, networking or new business development.
 
But allowing such activity did bring its own dangers, Iles warned. On the one hand, legal issues such as data protection and copyright infringement had to be considered. On the other, giving staff free rein to spend excessive amounts of time using social media during work hours could damage productivity and even “amount to a disciplinary offence”.
 
“It is really important for employers to have a clearly-worded policy informing employees what is and is not acceptable use of the internet and social networking sites,” Iles said.
 
But she added that addressing the issue of posting derogatory comments should be approached with caution. In most cases, such comments were made outside of working hours and could only be viewed by friends, which could make it difficult to take disciplinary action.
 
“A number of high-profile businesses have dismissed employees for leaving inappropriate comments on internet sites, which has resulted in a finding of unfair dismissal by the tribunal. Employers need to show that they have acted fairly and reasonably, and that any decision to dismiss was not simply a knee-jerk reaction,” Iles said.
 

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By Doug Shaw
20th May 2010 08:09

In my experience very few companies allow or are comfortable with internal two way communications. They tend to prefer broadcast, one way methods in an attempt to keep control of the message. Open dialogue, or one way command and control. Which do you find more engaging, more purposeful?

I know of a few places where blogging in the business is encouraged, and in fewer places still, there are some reasonably senior figures actively involved and pretty much anything goes. So what happens? I see some controversy raging from time to time, and a lot of people appreciate a more open, two way, live feel about the comms. So debate happens, and quite often when a member of staff posts something a bit edgy, it will be other colleagues and peers who may speak up and challenge the point of view. More often than not there is a consensus reached, and some useful learning has been…learned. On the odd occasion discussion strays into something inappropriate, well just deal with it. Remove the offense, explain briefly why and get on with the next good idea, or discussion.

This open dialogue is an important part of visible or accessible leadership. Here’s a supporting idea for you if you are interested. “Visible Leadership is Great. Can we have some please?” http://bit.ly/azUreQ

Maybe, just maybe, more companies should be open to real dialogue within the business, and the opportunities it brings. Perhaps that way fewer people would feel the need to flame the boss on facebook or wherever?

 

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