Many HR professionals feel strongly that there is no need for perusing employees’ social media pages, which may contain personal information that is irrelevant to their jobs, a spokeswoman for the Society for Human Resource Management says.
Some, however, are finding social media a useful if infrequently-used tool in identifying employee job-related misconduct. This camp sees nothing inherently wrong in doing so.
“If it’s in the public media, it’s out there” for all to see, says Jeffrey Daum, president of Competency Management Inc., a human resource consulting firm in Las Vegas.
“Looking at social media sites is becoming more common,” says Peter Gillespie, of counsel in the Chicago office of Fisher & Phillips, a national labor and employment law firm that represents employers. And in some cases, he says, HR officials are remiss if they don’t investigate complaints arising from employee posts on social networking sites.
An HR manager who isn’t a Facebook “friend” of an employee isn’t going to learn much if their Facebook page has strict privacy settings. But workers engaged in questionable behavior get tripped up anyway by colleagues they have friended.
“More often than not, a co-worker sees something and comes forward to report it,” Gillespie says. “They say their co-worker is gaming the system. If the employer doesn’t act, it can cause morale problems.”