Social Media: When Sharing Becomes Oversharing

Wednesday March 17, 2021

Social media has been a popular way of keeping in touch with distant family and friends for years. It is perhaps unsurprising then, that usage of social media skyrocketed in the past year while other more traditional forms of socialising became limited during lockdown.

People are not just turning to social media to stay in touch, but to stay informed on breaking news or follow online fitness classes with gyms being closed. New trends have emerged too, with whole households uploading comical dance routines to the breakout app of 2020, TikTok.

Whilst social media has many pros: keeping people connected, entertained and active to name just a few. Excessive use also comes with cons.

Too much time online, in a heavily filtered environment, can alter a person’s perception of reality. It can lead to increased feelings of anxiety, depression and even isolation. Most smartphones now come with timers to encourage self-management and keep activity to a minimum. A good idea for anyone who is feeling the effects of spending too much time on social media.

Another con which can arise from too much time on social media is the tendency for people to “overshare”.

During the pandemic, numerous reports have emerged of employees claiming to have been fired over viral videos posted to social media. Bad behaviour has included: revealing company secrets, arrogantly flouting COVID rules and bad-mouthing customers. We are sure you can imagine many other ways of acting up whilst in uniform too. These employees have fallen foul of oversharing and paid the price.

It’s not just work-related gaffs that have led to a dismissal. Employees revealing strong political opinions and emotional outbursts online have also raised concerns for employers.

It would appear that even company directors can suffer from an urge to overshare. In a social slip-up that led to his dismissal, Iceland’s former director of corporate affairs made some derogatory comments about the Welsh language. His colleagues at Iceland, a proud Welsh company, were not amused.

So, what is the safest course of action for an employer to take when something like this happens?

In 2021, one of the most important ways for a business to protect its reputation and confidentiality is to have a robust social media policy in place. This then needs to be communicated to all employees. Staff are going to use social media, that’s a given. Indeed, keeping connected with others can be helpful at a time like this. However, a policy helps to clarify conduct and the consequences of any social media misconduct whilst in your employment. This kind of policy is an important tool, should you be faced with an awkward case of oversharing.

For advice on what yours should include, give us a call at the HR Dept.

Preventing People Problems

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