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Gloucestershire Business News

Nearly half of employers regularly check employee social media

With the average person spending 145 minutes a day on social network sites, virtual and professional lives are likely to overlap.

But adding colleagues on social media platforms can be a complicated situation.

Some recruitment agencies and HR specialists advise against adding colleagues on social media, while others encourage it.

Instant Offices flexible workplace specialists have identified key points from both sides, along with advice on how to judge if it feels appropriate to add a co-worker.

Disadvantages:

  • It can reduce productivity - Spending too long on social media sites can lead to distracted employees, with many companies choosing to ban social media in the workplace.
  • It places you under added scrutiny - Almost half of employers (48 per cent) admit to checking up on current employees via social media, with a third (34 per cent) saying they have reprimanded or, in worst-case scenarios, even fired an employee due to content they found.
  • It can impact career progression - 70 per cent of companies use social networking sites to gather information on job candidates during the hiring process, meaning social media can affect working life before you've even started!

The most common social media faux pas that caused potential employers to reject a candidate:

  • Provocative or inappropriate content
  • Drinking or drug use
  • Discriminatory comments
  • Criminal behaviour
  • Information that shows a candidate lied about their qualifications
  • Bad-mouthing a previous employer or colleague

Advantages:

  • It can improve camaraderie - The longer you work at a company, the more your friendships grow and adding them as friends on social media is a natural progression.
  • Improve communication - Getting to know someone via social media can help tackle workplace small talk.
  • It can boost reputation - Giving colleagues and bosses a glimpse into your personal life gives them a chance to see what you get up to outside the office, providing a more well-rounded view.

How to decide if you should add a colleague on social media:

1. What is your work culture like? Is it a casual environment? Is there a strong focus on relationships, and are teams encouraged to socialise?

2. Are you happy with the way you come across online? Look at the last 20 posts you've shared or liked. Ask yourself if you feel comfortable with the way they represent you - would you feel okay with a peer or a boss seeing them?

3. What do you have in common? It's not unusual to form genuine friendships at work through shared interests - if you're friendly with a colleague offline, adding them online will feel more natural and less awkward.

4. Do you share work-related content on social media? If your feed is a mix of private posts and content on professional topics, you might consider sending or accepting a workplace friend request.

Employees should bear in mind that not all social media platforms are the same or appropriate for workplace connections. People may feel more comfortable connecting with colleagues on Facebook or LinkedIn rather than TikTok or Instagram.

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