Employee Social Media Monitoring: Aye or Nay?

Social media monitoring at the workplace has turned out to be a contentious matter both for employers and employees. The businesses are sneaking into their employees’ social networking and many workers have been dismissed over their social media posts. According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder back in 2013, almost 39 percent of entrepreneurs monitor employees on social networking sites. While 43 percent bosses said they dismissed an employee over posting inappropriate photos or information on social media, 19 percent said they chose candidates for their communication skills and professionalism on social media.

The supporters of employee social media monitoring say that the employers should even monitor each tweet and social media updates of their workers around the clock. On the contrary, the privacy promoters claim that it has nothing to do with work, and employees’ social life should not be monitored unless there are clear suspects of wrongdoing. We have discussed here why businesses should or should not strongly monitor their employees’ social media activities.

Why Employee Social Media Monitoring Matters?

Employee productivity is the major concern for the businesses because it directly influences the business output and profitability. If the employees would spend their working hours updating their social media profiles or misusing the company internet for entertainment purposes, it would not just distract them from their assigned task but decline their motivation to work. It is the responsibility of the management to prevent the workers from involving in unsolicited activities and concentrating more on work. If companies do not pay attention to the social media use of employees, they may end up confronting a decrease in employee productivity and business profitability.

The majority of discontented employees head towards social networking platforms to criticize their employer, harasses or discourages subordinates, and negatively influences customers. All these things do not just spoil the motivation to work but damage the company image in the industry. A number of employees have acknowledged posting information on social media that they should not post. In a 2009 survey, more than 14 percent of employees admitted emailing confidential data of their company to the third party and 6 percent abused credit card information and Social Security numbers of customers.

Cell phone monitoring app allows employers to identify potential problems and get the confidential or inappropriate information removed from the social networking sites as soon as possible. As well as keeping tabs on the internal company network and public social media accounts, the employers can monitor employees’ private social media accounts to prevent potential risks to the business. Meanwhile, the social media monitoring influences the hiring processes as it helps employers to acquire evidence to withdraw a job offer. For instance, the Facebook comments that show a worker is dishonest to his/her work, indications to substance addiction or involvement in other illegal activities, harassing or discriminatory comments for co-workers, or embarrassing photos.

What Critics Say About Employee Social Media Monitoring?

The employers have a right to watch out the activities of employees performed on the company-owned computers and other devices. However, they should monitor the private social media accounts of their workers only when they have a solid reason to believe that the worker is involved in wrongdoings. This is exactly what is in practice by many successful businesses. The owners of these organizations track their employees only when they have suspect of their involvement in illegal conduct.

The privacy supporters claim that the mostly what employees do on social networking sites has nothing to do with work. What they do on their personal computers or mobile phones is more related to their private lives. The employer should only sneak into the private lives of their employees when they have legitimate reasons.

Following an employee’s social media profile needlessly can have weird consequences. Many cases have come to sight when the employer fired an employee over a social media post that was not relevant to the business but it was annoying for the Boss. Many people have lost their jobs only because of having political or religious opinions different than their employer. Many qualified candidates have been rejected by the companies only because their social media profile did not please the management.

A recent survey found that almost 77 percent of employers conduct internet searches of prospective employees and 35 percent have rejected job applicants on the basis of information they found about them on social media. Even there are employers who do not consider anyone for the job who has party pictures on their socializing accounts.

It is unfair to not consider a job applicant just because of their behavior on social media platform. It does not just discourage employees but can also make employer to miss a qualified and skillful person. If the companies would continue rejecting candidates because the private life of the applicant failed to impress the company owner, the loss would be of the company as well.

Certainly, there are situations in which the private activities of the candidate are a legitimate concern for the employer. For instance, a Police department should not hire a person who belongs to a racist group; a person who watches child pornography should not be hired to work with children, and a drug addict person should not be selected to drive public transport.

The Bottom Line

The perks of employees’ monitoring private social media accounts are limitless as the businesses can have more knowledge about the prospective employees before making any commitment; can prevent the existing employees from sharing confidential or inappropriate information regarding the business on social media, and can make the workers focused on assigned tasks rather than wasting the work hours updating their social media accounts. However, there must be limitations. The employers should sneak into the private lives of the employees only when they have legitimate reasons to do so. The company should have a clear policy regarding the monitoring of employees. The human resource department must be acquainted with what type of information of a person is relevant to the job and report only that information to the selection committee. In this way, the odds of discrimination and unfair happenings could be minimized.