Should employers check their employees on social sites?

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As the number of people fired as a result of social media posts increases, the question of whether employers should look into their employees’ social media posts has become an increasingly important one.

A 2013 survey by CareerBuilder showed that 39 per cent of employers checked candidates on social media sites, while 43 per cent indicated that they discovered something that led to their decision to nix a candidate, such as bad-mouthing a previous employer or posting inappropriate information or photos.

On the other hand, 19 per cent said they came across information that contributed to the hiring of the candidate, such as a professional image and good communication skills.

Some advocates believe that employers should be exerting more effort in monitoring social media, keeping an eye on the employees’ updates and tweets.

Worker advocates and privacy proponents argue that the majority of people’s posts are not work related, so they should not be monitored unless there is a strong reason to suspect wrongdoing.

According to Nancy Flynn, ePolicy Institute’s founder and executive director, monitoring employees on social media helps companies protect themselves from serious problems.

She believes that strict monitoring enables employers to immediately identify potential problems, get the information offline as soon as possible, and discipline the involved employee.

Meanwhile, National Workrights Institute president Lewis Maltby said the practice is unnecessary and counterproductive.

While he acknowledges the legal right of employers to monitor the conduct of their employees on their work computers, this should only occur when there is a good reason to believe that the employee is involved in illegal conduct.

He noted that when HR professionals reject a top candidate because of that person’s social media posts, the employer also loses.