In the 2019 Global Digital Reports, they report that the current number of social media users is 3.5 billion, which is almost half of the global population. So, it’s no wonder that social media is a big part of your employees’ lives. It can even help you take your digital recruitment to the next level. However, in a borderless world, one seemingly simple post can go viral in a flash, attracting thousands of engagement and trending overnight. And, depending on the nature of the post, it doesn’t only affect your employees’ lives, but your organization, too.
You may notice something on your employee’s social media which, you think, calls for their termination. But should social media really influence your firing decision?
Social media should influence firing decision if:
The situation violates your company policy
In a confession post in The Financial Diet, a person tells the story of how they got fired for posting a picture during a party for getting a client. They have specific instructions forbidding them to post on social media. However, they still did, driven by the excitement. So, since it’s a direct violation of their contract, termination was the result.
Here’s another example: in 2019, Luzon was struck with a 6.1 earthquake. It claimed lives and left almost 300 people injured. However, while a lot of people are sympathetic, some are insensitive. A milk tea franchise employee was terminated for his dismissive comment about the calamity. According to the company, they fired him for violating the company’s “policy of morality”.
These just show how social media can be a medium of a violation. So, depending on your company policy, social media can influence employee termination.
It tarnishes the company reputation
While your employees have full control of their social media, they are also your brand ambassadors. So, their social media posts and activities can not just raise but also tarnish your brand.
With how easy things go viral on social media, one wrong post can cost you a lot of money. If your employe has a public profile, anyone and everyone can see, share, and comment on their detrimental post, worsening the situation for every engagement it garners.
You also have to be especially careful with employees who’re handling your organization’s official accounts. If they post the wrong thing, the brand that you so painstakingly built can crumble. So, in some cases, these situations can be reasons social media influences your firing decision.
It shows misconduct of the employee
If you have a specific rule forbidding social media use during working hours, them continually using it is a sign of misconduct. While it doesn’t warrant immediate firing if you caught them once, multiple violations can be grounds for termination since it can escalate and result in a bigger issue. Remember that presenteeism is just as hurtful for your company as absenteeism. If their social media use—along with other things—is affecting their performance and that they’re no longer worth keeping, then you may have to consider letting go of them.
On the other hand, since social media is part of your employees’ personal lives, they may be sharing something improper. That can be said for the case of the teacher who was fired after tweeting near-nude photos and drug use. So, if your employees are using or posting in social media about their grave misconduct, it can influence your firing decision.
Should social media influence your firing decision? It depends.
At the end of the day, the influence of social media on employee termination is on a case-to-case basis. Remember that the law protects your employees and that they have the freedom to post what they want on social media and use it how they see fit. To help you with these situations, it’s crucial that you create a social media policy in place and that you educate your employees about it so that they’re aware of the possible consequences of their social media use.