Social Media Intrusion - What's Fair Game?

Let’s keep the conversation going about how intrusive HR should be in relation to information employees choose to publish on social media sites.  Bearing in mind, they are doing this on their own time, using their own equipment, and not representing their comments as those of their employer.

We’ve already discussed facebook in a previous blog, but what about information that is available in an open forum?  For instance, exactly what I’m doing here - blogging.  If the blog is publicly available whether I subscribe or not I can read what’s there.  Is that fair game?  What if I come across something really heinous like racist or other hate comments?  Should I be concerned about that attitude being present in the workplace, and if so, is there anything I can or should do about it?

For me, the social media intrusion question creates the same kind of discomfort as the age-old dress code struggle.  What’s really appropriate, how does an employer create definition without being unreasonably inflexible, and when is it ok for an employer to intervene or even discipline based on a violation?   I hate even typing the word violation ..... I don’t know any HR people who actually like a policing role.  And by the way, for those who think HR people unnecessarily hassle staff on issues like dress code, let me tell you that the majority of complaints I've had to deal with regarding inappropriate dress in the workplace came from other employees, not management.  So we're really not goose-stepping around the office looking for violators - the person sitting next to you is calling to complain.  But I digress.

There are certain areas that challenge and may even defy clear boundaries. Personal opinion, like personal style, can't and probably shouldn't be defined and it definitely will never be contained. 

Rather than looking at blogs for problems and infractions, look at what they are saying.  Your employees' blogs probably contain information that will inform you about what is important to them and provide insight into the issues that resonate with them.  Good things to know since employee engagement and retention really are worth our time and attention.

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