It is fairly common for people to add their co-workers and employees as friends on their social media, after all, you work with them on a daily basis and what could go wrong with that?
But it is advisable to think carefully before you do this. As their employer, you have probably worked hard to establish your business and earn their respect. As a boss, you need to maintain an air of authority around you to ensure your employees take you seriously and you get the results you want in your establishment. However, when you add them on social media, the line between professional lives and personal lives gets blurred. Sometimes it can become so bad that it can cause your professional relationship to get affected which in turn will obviously harm your business.
A few years ago, it might have been okay to add your employees and colleagues on social media because people did not share so much of their personal lives online. But as the trend has grown, people are sharing every minute details of their lives, like what they are eating, where they are going, who they are partying with. All of this may seem innocent to share with your friends, but if your employees are also watching these posts, they will start to see a different side of your personality which is completely different from the professional outlook that you carry at work. Your colleagues and employees may start to think of you as their buddy and would begin to take you lightly. Most of the posts and pictures shared online now usually not appropriate to share with your colleagues that you work with on a daily basis.
Here are a few other reasons why you shouldn’t ‘friend’ your employees on different social media platforms.
When you think about the things you share on your social media, you will agree that most of these posts are too personal to share with the people you work with. Unless any of them has been friends with you for work and you were already close to them. There is no need for your employees or colleagues to see your kid’s pictures, your selfies while partying or lounging in beachwear. There is no need for them to view any informal comments that you share with your close friends or family either.
On social media, it is easy to forget how many people are going to view your posts and if you have allowed friends of friends to view, then your posts can reach people who don’t even know you. And this can be troublesome if in future or present you have to meet any of them for a business deal or for other professional reasons. As they may form an opinion of you based on your informal posts. Sometimes employees can forget that they are commenting on their boss’ pictures and they may say something which might end up sounding really informal and crosses the boundary of professional etiquette.
2- You Can’t Always Be Careful:
Let’s say that you added your employees on social media thinking you can edit the privacy settings for every single post that you share online. But it’s not as easy as it may seem, you cannot always be on guard, and you might post something at the spur of the moment without realizing who it is reaching. Or at other times, you may simply forget to change your privacy setting for a post that you shared, and a rather unprofessional or inappropriate post ends up on your employee’s news feed. That may become a reason to feel embarrassed in the office space because in reality, let’s face it: what gets posted on social media doesn’t always stay on the social media.
Unless you are one of those horrible bosses who like to embarrass their employees and enjoys making their lives miserable, it is wise not to send a friend request to your employees. They may accept it is feeling obligated or under pressure to please you because you are their boss after all. But it will put them in a difficult place as they may have to edit their privacy settings for all their previous posts and become a lot more careful in choosing their future posts. They may feel uncomfortable sharing their personal lives with you online and may not want to add you at all. It will always be in the back of their mind that you can view their posts and just like you, they cannot be on guard and cannot keep editing their privacy settings for each post. It is better not to push them in a position that they can’t get out of and at the same time keep your privacy intact as well.
If you have already added your employees on your social media and one of them does not come to work and takes a day off, calling in sick. But you see them posting about being sick on their account and they may assume that you have already seen their post, and they might decide not to call at work and inform that they are sick. They may have posted about it the day before or another day. Either way, it is your business which will suffer. Because you do not need to see their posts on health problems or family matters as you might sympathize with them and give them too much leverage. Because what they are posting online may not necessarily be true or it could be a half-truth. Your employee might be lying to you and using social media as a means to convince you that he or she is telling you the truth about being sick. Where as in reality, your employee might be vacationing or partying somewhere and you may be thinking that they are actually very sick.
You will be jeopardizing your authority as a boss if other employees view your reaction when you sympathize with one employee for being sick. Because every one of them will expect you to behave in the same manner and give them holidays too when they share similar posts on their social media accounts. You will get stuck in a really bad situation and will constantly be trying to prove yourself as a nice human being and will feel obligated to give employee’s holidays when in reality they might be lying to you. Your business will suffer, you will feel stressed and you will not be able to get work done professionally.
Everybody knows that people sign on to their social media accounts while they are at work, especially on Facebook. When you have added your employees as friends, and you decide to go online on Facebook during office hours, your employees can view that. Or they may access their Facebook later but realize from time stamps that you posted something during working hours. If they see this kind of behavior, they will automatically assume that it is okay for them to use their social media accounts during working hours too. And similarly, if you see any of your employees online, you may assume that they are wasting precious office time and give them a bad performance appraisal, where as they might have simply finished their work for that day is more efficient than you may think of them. Or they may actually be doing something related to work or they may have signed in for few minutes and forgot to sign out. But you will think that they have been using it all day.
Because of all these reasons, it can get confusing for employees and bosses to be friends online. It may cause misunderstandings and unnecessary stress which is the last thing, needed in a professional environment. So, a little privacy is necessary in this case which will not be possible if you and your employees are connected on social media platforms.