THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Facebook and employee confidentiality

Since the New Year began, I’ve had more then on email along the following lines:

“Chris

What would your thoughts and actions be if a member of your team were to post on Facebook that they can’t wait to start their new job?

Wish I could think of something really clever to add as a comment.

Should also add she is going because she can’t hack the pace, my team don’t like her and she has had an informal warning; not the type of nurse I would want.

However…… the comment does nark me somewhat”

and my initial reply:

“Morning

Funny you should mention that – because its the second time in a week that this has come up.

I reckon a good subject for a blog post – don’t you?

When I joined IDH it was made very clear that any references to them were to be avoided in my e-scribbles – ezine, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin – not because they have anything to hide but because that’s commercial confidentiality – and I agree with that.

CLICK HERE for an interesting view.

My take on this is that, in future, all employment contracts should include a clause that prohibits sharing confidential information, including any comment that could bring the business into disrepute or damage the businesses reputation with suppliers, existing and future customers or existing and future employees.

In the absence of such a clause – nothing much you can do – expect post back that you appreciate how she feels.”

and the client responds:

“I do have pretty clear guidelines for employees and they each have a copy one such clause being

Employees are required to take all necessary steps to safeguard the practices public image and preserve positive relationships with its customers, clients and members of the public.

I perhaps need to make this more specific.

I personally cannot believe any one would be dull enough to put a comment on a site, can’t help their current employment or future employment but there we are”

I am one of the 300m+ people who use Facebook (although happily NOT one of the 80m who play Farmville – or any other MMORPG for that matter) – and I have to admit that I enjoy it as a social networking medium – and become increasingly fascinated at the business applications via pages and groups.

But I’ve learned a few lessons along the way:

  1. don’t “befriend” people you don’t really know – they are probably trying to sell you a coaching programme!

  2. what you meant when you wrote that and what the other person thought you meant can be very different and troublesome (same goes for emails)

  3. don’t imagine for one minute that its in any way confidential – people who you don’t want as friends but who want to stalk you – will find a way

  4. refer back to my blog post on Friday afternoon about the intrusiveness of some sales organisations who are now using Facebook to trawl for you

  5. finally – don’t be so astonishingly stupid as to update your profile with disparaging comments about your job – or anything/anybody else for that matter

Perhaps a timely reminder of Paddi Lund’s Courtesy System, which still hangs on the wall right next to my desk.

We live in a 24/7/365 global, digital, just-in-time, real-time village – and there is no such thing as a secret.

For the employers reading – perhaps a new clause in your contracts?

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