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Should You Add Work Colleagues on Social Networking Sites

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 5 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Social Networking Sites Work Colleagues

It’s not uncommon for employees to add co-workers and employers as friends on social networking sites. Social networking sites can be a good communications tool but can also lead to problems, especially where privacy is concerned.

Work Colleagues and Social Networking Site Problems

Social networking sites such as Facebook are a great way for people around the world to communicate with the simple click of a mouse. Friends, family and co-workers can all be added as ‘friends’ or contacts on social networking sites. The problem with social networking sites is that many people place every detail of their lives online for all to see. Not only that but other ‘friends’ can add photographs and comments that the user would rather was not made public. Privacy issues can lead to problems for employees who have added co-workers and employers as friends on their networking site.

Social Networking Sites and Workplace Problems

There is absolutely nothing wrong with adding work colleagues to social networking sites but privacy should be a concern. In some cases, adding a co-worker means opening up your entire life, especially if you are the sort of person who likes to comment regularly and place personal photos online. Drunken photographs from a weekend party placed on these sites can be viewed by anyone who is a friend or contact including work colleagues. Spending a sick day off work commenting on a social networking site may simply be asking for trouble if seen by work colleagues. Leaving comments about work problems or posting comments about annoying co-workers can definitely lead to trouble.

A Social Networking Sites is a Two Way Street

Adding a co-worker out of politeness if they ask may not always be the smartest thing to do. Some people do have the wrong idea of what social networking sites actually are. Many feel that if a work colleague is a virtual friend it does mean they are now actual friends. Not replying to constant messages or comments can actually lead to the ‘friend’ becoming angry and resentful. Remember that social networking sites can now be used as an additional weapon when it comes to office politics.

Never Air Work problems on Social Networking Sites

Those who do have work colleague and employers as friends on their social networking sites should be careful about their postings and comments. There have been many employee dismissals reported in the media regarding employees who have blogged about office problems. Steer well clear of placing work related problems and issues with co-workers on these sites. It may seem as if a work colleague is a friend but this friend status could easily change in the future. It only takes one piece of gossip from a disgruntled work colleague to reach an employer’s ears to cause serious trouble.

Social Networking Sites and Disgruntled Ex-Employees

As the name suggests social networking sites are not actually intended for business purposes. But many people do advertise businesses on social networking sites. For employers this could become a problem with ex-employees with an axe to grind. Ex-employees who have been dismissed can easily post messages and comments about the company on these sites if the employee has not been removed from the contacts. This can do damage to a business reputation if customer’s do happen to see and believe the comments.

Social Networking Site Addiction

It is quite easy to become addicted to social networking sites. Many employees in offices do have a habit of clicking onto these sites whenever they have the chance. Remember that employers can often tell exactly what an employee is looking at by monitoring their internet usage and history. Ignoring office policy on internet use can actually lead to dismissal especially if internet use is abused. Having an employer or a work colleague as a friend simply increases the chance that they can see postings made during the day when the employee should be working.

Employees who do have work colleague and employers as contacts on social networking sites should ensure that their privacy is not compromised. There are settings on these sites that can limit the content that can be seen by certain individuals. There are business networking sites that can be used to keep business and personal life separate. Using a business networking site may be the wiser option for those who like to post regularly about their personal life on social networking sites.

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