Could LinkedIn get you fired?

Does the corporate world wants to have its cake and eat it too?

Social media and the corporate cake
I have observed and somewhat portentously anticipated, storms brewing in cyber space.

The corporate mindset appears to be several steps behind the outside world. In many areas it is now playing catch up, but nowhere is this more self-evident than in the area of employee engagement in the social media arena.

So it didn’t come as a surprise to read that an executive had been forced out of his job, not for uploading or being tagged in compromising photos, sending out risqué tweets or saying he hated his job on Facebook. No. He simply posted his professional CV on LinkedIn and checked the contact box ” interested in career opportunities.”   This seemingly was against company policy.

Having and eating the cake
The executive in question John Flexman of BG Group, responsible for graduate recruitment, is pursuing a court case for constructive dismissal. This pre-supposes that any interest in career opportunities, by default has to be external only and brings no benefit to the existing organisation. It was also claimed that Flexman had divulged confidential information by listing reduced staff attrition as one of his achievements.  Now there is possibly more to this than meets the eye,  but nevertheless there is still a court case hanging on the premise of the supposed inappropriate use of a LinkedIn profile .

Double standards
We live in a world where many catalogue and communicate every waking moment and thought in their daily lives. Most of us have no interest at all in what people are eating, or the quality of the weather, restaurants or roads in Manchester, Mumbai, or anywhere else for that matter. This is in stark contrast to the corporate world where confidentiality agreements are common place and covert deals struck behind closed doors are the norm.

But having said that, organisations tap into this disparate information in the public domain to keep their fingers on the pulse of their customer bases. They extract key nuggets of market and competitive intelligence, tracking our spending patterns and other consumer trends, as well as keeping tabs on the competition, from what would appear to us regular mortals, to be totally inane data. Research shows that a high percentage of companies also use social media for identifying and screening candidates as part of their own recruitment processes, with 86% of businesses now saying they use LinkedIn and even Facebook.

Ring fencing
This issue raises a number of questions. Do organisations such as BG Group want to have their cake and eat it too? Are they happy to use social media platforms to achieve corporate goals, but not thrilled when employees use these platforms to meet theirs?

But  more importantly, shouldn’t the role of management be focused on motivating its employees to be committed and engaged to a company, rather than ring fencing them,  making it difficult to leave? Would that perhaps account for a need to reduce staff attrition?

8 thoughts on “Could LinkedIn get you fired?

  1. Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach

    Excellent post Dorothy. I think you just hit the nail right on the head. It is not because you are a passionate and loyal employee that you should not be on Linkedin or Viadeo or BranchOut. Nowadays if you are not visible on social media, chances are very high that you will not be found by employers and recruiters when your employer will say goodbye to you. However like your personal information on Facebook, don’t be naive and assume everybody and anybody have access to your information you post regardless of your privacy settings.

    Reply
  2. Alan

    C.E.O.’s that attempt to limit employees options through company policies and threats of being terminated are little better than sweat shops, taking advantage of employees because they can. Not smart, but not surprising either.

    Reply
    1. Dorothy Dalton

      Alan – thanks for your comment. Organisations have tied employees to them with all sorts of methods, sometimes dubious, sometimes in the form of benefits which would make them more attractive than other employers. I agree with you, cutting someone off from the possibility of discussions with others in their network, will not be a successful way of increasing employee engagement.

      Reply
  3. Thabo Hermanus

    I am not sure what the other underlying issues are, but from a corporate brand perspective, I am not sure what the company is thinking taking things this far. The employer mind-set of thinking you own your staff and they should be grateful to work for you is rather outdated and not at all fostering the spirit of employee engagement as you rightly point out. I am more interested in the internal perception left of the staff that are still there. The good ones have more than likely updated their LinkedIn profiles!

    Reply
    1. Dorothy Dalton

      Hi Thabo – thanks for your comment. I agree this is not good employer brand publicity. Employers who focus on preventing their employees from leaving rather than making attractive to stay are probably on a slippery slope.

      Reply
  4. Pingback: Increase in contractual changes to cover social media usage | Dorothy Dalton

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