In today’s world, nearly all of us have a presence on social media in some form or another. As business owners, we’re constantly surveying the latest trends through our Facebook pages. Our employees often feature on our timelines, especially if we have somewhat of a family atmosphere at the company. For a long time, it seems like Facebook is nothing but beneficial for your business.
Then, it happens. That long-term employee that has always shown faith in the company posts something out of the blue. It’s a post that displays their disappointment and unhappiness with you or your company. They forget that you can see it, but the damage has already been done. Action needs to be taken. What happens next? That’s for you to decide.
All right, so let’s start with the punishments. I mean, that’s what’s on your mind in the first instance, right? An employee has done wrong by criticising your company and making it public, and you want revenge. That’s natural, and you can certainly pursue it if you wish. In the case of a short-term employee who hasn’t got employee rights, you can fire them on the spot if need be. For long-term employees, it might not be so simple.
Ultimately, you need to analyse the situation from a variety of angles. What, exactly, was said? How severe should the penalties be? What does the law (as mentioned at http://www.linklaters.com) state that you can do at this point? And, how important has this employee been to the company in the past? Sometimes, a poor hiring decision can lead to a bad apple in the pack. Sometimes, though, a disgruntled Facebook post is an indication that you need to look at the bigger picture.
The Bigger Picture
What drew this person to criticise your company online? Have you stopped to think that those concerns might just be calls for assistance? Have you stopped to think that by firing them, you might be making the problem worse? It’s an interesting conundrum, for sure.
In any case, you’re going to want to bring the person into a private meeting to discuss the matter. But, before rushing to any immediate decision, it’s important to delve into the details of it. Something’s bothering them, but is it work-based, or are they struggling with personal pressures? Instead of dismissal, could you put them into a counselling program (like http://www.healthassured.org/) instead? Was their seemingly vicious Facebook post nothing more than a call for help?
Only you can decide whether there’s an issue that is far wider-reaching than a poorly-timed Facebook post. However, this is your chance to learn for the future. Make it clear that you won’t tolerate this behaviour to your employees, but also take the time to reiterate your open-door policy. Make sure they understand that they are able to air grievances directly to you, rather than be forced to go private. It’s much better to get a private barrage of disgruntlement than to find it being shared in the public eye.
[post contributed for tamarhela.com]