When we hear the term “cyberbullying,” many of us immediately think of mean-spirited kids using social media to intimidate other children.
But bullying survives long into adulthood and has migrated to the workplace, according to the latest installment of AVGs Digital Diaries series: Digital Work Life.
Digital Work Life examines the intersection – or rather collision – of social media and office politics. We found that most offices have a long way to go when it comes to creating awareness and educating their employees or putting guidance or policies in place about what’s acceptable to share on personal and corporate profiles. To set the stage, the study of 4,000 adults from 10 countries across the globe, found that more than half of the respondents believe social media has eroded their privacy in the workplace.
Should we be Facebook friends with our colleagues? Should we post photos from drunken work parties? In fact 11 percent of worldwide respondents have experienced embarrassment from photos or videos from a work event that have been uploaded to social media.
And if it’s a work event, who has the authority to decide whether photos can appear on a corporate Facebook page?
What strikes me about our Digital Work Life findings is just how blurred the lines have become for most people and just how conflicting our workplaces can be. For example, 15 percent of US workers have been the victim of a social media insult from a colleague.
Nearly one in 10 of worldwide respondents has had a manager use information gleaned from social media against them or a colleague.
What’s more, nearly a third of worldwide respondents accepted colleagues’ social media requests even though they did not want to.
Boundary time for Employers
When it comes to social media at work, there are a number of different forces at play and employers of all sizes should educate employees about social media etiquette. It is important for employers to create clarity around the responsibilities and accountability of employees in the use of company resources and social media in the work place. A good place to start would be to offer clear codes, guidelines or policies about the use of social media in the office, the sharing of information between colleagues or about the company and clear examples about what is and is not acceptable.
And it’s not enough to just create a policy; employers need to make sure workers are aware of it and how it applies to them.
Employees should Think ahead
Young workers – especially recent graduates – should think carefully about transitioning their student personas, where pretty much anything goes, to professional personas, where one indulgent evening can get them in to trouble and possibly curtail their career.
Regardless of the rules in any one company, employees should create personal guidelines for social media engagement and stick to them over the course of their career and from company to company.
Either you’re friends with your colleagues or not. You can create special circles or walled gardens for colleagues and restrict what you share with them or you can share everything with them.
It’s much easier than people think to simply say that you do not want to become “Facebook” friends with colleagues and, at least in my experience, this reaction garners a great deal of respect. But keep in mind that anything you DO share online about anyone, no matter how seemingly disconnected, can find its way into the wrong hands.
In a sense, the discussion begs a variation to that well known adage: Don’t tell anything to Facebook that you wouldn’t tell every single person you know.
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