Preventing social media indiscretions: avoiding the P45


We’ve all been there haven’t we? THE day from hell! Stub your toe as you get out of bed; spill your morning coffee over your freshly ironed shirt or blouse; snap your lace as you attempt to tie your shoe laces; miss the train that gets you to work 15 minutes early, that had the audacity to be on time for the first time that week, now leaving you reliant on the following train (which is always jam-packed and frequently hit or miss as to whether it gets you to work on time…resulting in silent tuts and subtle shake of the heads of your colleagues). No matter what you do to forget the morning mishaps – sit down, read your emails, make a call – you know this is going to be a bad day.

Before 5:30pm comes around, you know that you will either be in a local public house with the obligatory glass of red (for medicinal purposes, of course) muttering into your glass about ‘the day from hell’, or you’ve chosen to head straight home, knowing exactly who you are going to call to discuss (or rant) about your day (from hell). Perhaps that’s just my approach … or is it?

I read with much interest a flight attendant’s day from hell with what may arguably be described as a challenging (yet paying) customer. Without wishing to use this platform to rehash all of the details, (it’s been well documented in the media) let’s just say that this flight attendant, after experiencing a challenging customer, chose the social media equivalent to venting to a friend – Twitter. Twitter?? With an estimated global audience of 200 million users! Our flight attendant chooses this platform to describe the customer as an ‘absolute nightmare’ before adding, one assumes to her work colleagues for the return leg of the flight, ‘…she will keep you busy…..’ She even continued to criticise the customers clothing – taking a picture and posting as if to prove her point! To their credit, her employer removed the twitter post as soon as it was spotted, but of course, due to the nature of social media, the damage is already done.

Many of your employees, if not all, will experience at some point, an equally (or more) frustrating, nightmare, nothing-goes-right, day/s from hell. In the main, most know how to manage and respond to days such as this, yet it only takes one employee to undo years of hard work to potentially damage your reputation, or worst, makes your company liable to any claim.

It is worth pointing out that our flight attendant may have thought she was posting her commentary privately just to work colleagues. This raises 2 points: one of policy and one of law. I’d respectfully submit that our flight attendant (and indeed your employees) should only ever post anything online with the expectation that the whole world can read it, and secondly, there is ever increasing case law that indicates that it doesn’t seem to be an adequate defence for one to claim that one’s comments were private (or intended as private) when posted on social media.

Social Media is an ever evolving beast: I doubt that this is the last time we read of an employee using the wrong platform in the wrong way to manage a bad day. At Avensure we are helping our clients to benefit from a proactive approach to social media, including robust, personalised Social Media policies that clearly explains to the employees of our clients the pitfalls of Social Media, and what is and is not acceptable to communicate as an employee.

It is our belief that where Social Media is concerned – this is certainly an area of ‘prevention is better than cure’. Ensuring that your Team Leaders, Managers and/or Department Heads understand the pitfalls of Social Media, alongside a robust, fit for purpose, personalised and enforceable Social Media policy will go some way to ensuring the message and required behaviours filter through the whole of the company and prevent the name of your company being in the headlines for the wrong reasons. If you don’t have a Social Media Policy such as this in place, then maybe you should talk to us.