Your boss does not own your thoughts
Great bosses send you emails full of praise. Smile when they see you. Give you feedback on everything and take you out to lunch. A bad boss tries to own your thoughts.
Two different men, in two very different jobs, over the past two weeks were fired for posting stuff on their individual social media accounts that their employers found inappropriate.
Damian O’Keefe came home after a very tough day at work and vented his spleen on his Facebook page.
Yarra Tram driver Andy Blume, who’s earned himself an online reputation as a taunting jokster, was fired on Monday for using his phone to take pictures while at the controls of his tram and posting them online.
Whether O’Keefe and Blume deserved to lose their respective jobs, when even a warning may have been sufficient, is a subject for another blog. Though it’s pretty hard to argue in favour of a bloke Twittering while he’s driving a public vehicle.
But the consequences of their actions have set an intriguing precedent. That what you say and do outside your working hours has repercussions on your employment. Or in this case, keeping your job.
Fair Work Australia said they supported the O’Keefe dismissal because there was an “intimate” link between what was posted on his Facebook page and his work. According to their Tribunal Deputy President, Deidre Swan the incident also showed that the “the separation between home and work is now less pronounced.”
This is undeniably true. This year’s annual Ranstad World of Work Report showed that not only do 79 per cent of employers believe the growing popularity of social media has re-shaped the way we think about work; they also expect technology to continue to change it.
The problem begins with just how employers and their employees control the effects of this access to social media and its consequences.
Getting fired, as in the cases of O’Keefe and Andy Blume should be the last resort.
So with this in mind, here are five things you can do to help avoid these situations altogether and still live your life. Add your advice below.
1. Work is work, home is home. Sometimes having the flexibility to take work home can get stressful. Life coach Shannah Kennedy says the key to combating this is to create boundaries. Set strict times for switching on and offline and make sure you set aside an hour a week to plan without being connected.
2. Give serious thought to your Facebook and Twitter privacy settings. This New York Times article explains the latest Facebook privacy setting that allows you to make a “public”, “private” or “custom” status update.
3. Know your audience. This is related to point 2. Leave inappropriate, violent, offensive or dangerous content at the door.
4. Ensure your Twitter account bio includes the line “these thoughts are my own”.
5. Restrict the time you spend on social media at work. Unless regular updates are part of your job, consider them like phone calls, and stay mindful.
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