Social media: When sharing becomes oversharing
Social media has been a popular way of keeping in touch with distant family and friends for years. It is perhaps unsurprising then, that usage of social media skyrocketed in the past year while other more traditional forms of socialising became limited during lockdown.
People are not just turning to social media to stay in touch, but to stay informed on breaking news or follow online fitness classes with gyms being closed. New trends have emerged too, with whole households uploading comical dance routines to the breakout app of 2020, TikTok.
Whilst social media has many pros: keeping people connected, entertained and active to name just a few. Excessive use also comes with cons.
Too much time online, in a heavily filtered environment, can alter a person’s perception of reality. It can lead to increased feelings of anxiety, depression and even isolation. Most smartphones now come with timers to encourage self-management and keep activity to a minimum. A good idea for anyone who is feeling the effects of spending too much time on social media.
Another con which can arise from too much time on social media is the tendency for people to “overshare”.
During the pandemic, numerous reports have emerged of employees claiming to have been fired over viral videos posted to social media. Bad behaviour has included: revealing company secrets, arrogantly flouting COVID rules and bad-mouthing customers. We are sure you can imagine many other ways of acting up whilst in uniform too. These employees have fallen foul of oversharing and paid the price.
It’s not just work-related gaffs that have led to a dismissal. Employees revealing strong political opinions and emotional outbursts online have also raised concerns for employers.
It would appear that even company directors can suffer from an urge to overshare. In a social slip-up that led to his dismissal, Iceland’s former director of corporate affairs made some derogatory comments about the Welsh language. His colleagues at Iceland, a proud Welsh company, were not amused.
So, what is the safest course of action for an employer to take when something like this happens?
In 2021, one of the most important ways for a business to protect its reputation and confidentiality is to have a robust social media policy in place. This then needs to be communicated to all employees. Staff are going to use social media, that’s a given. Indeed, keeping connected with others can be helpful at a time like this. However, a policy helps to clarify conduct and the consequences of any social media misconduct whilst in your employment. This kind of policy is an important tool, should you be faced with an awkward case of oversharing.
For advice on what yours should include, give us a call.
The employment claims arising from COVID
Coronavirus has rapidly changed so many aspects of modern life. From socialising to working and more.
Towards the end of last year, it was clear to see the impact that the pandemic has had on employment related disputes. There had been a sharp rise in employment tribunal claims. In April to June alone, the increase against the previous year was at 18%.
With the virus still in circulation, employers could be facing a continuation of coronavirus related claims well into 2021.
Examples of risks arising from the pandemic include disputes over contracts, mismanaged redundancies, or problems with pay due to misuse of wage subsidy schemes.
We are starting to see these issues play out in tribunal courts. Although the following case comes from Jersey and was won by the employer, it provides a lesson in the importance of clear contracts and policies in defence of a claim.
The claimant was a Jersey plumber who challenged his employer’s decision to temporarily lay-off staff without pay. At the time the employer had not understood that Jersey’s wage subsidy scheme could apply.
Whilst the court acknowledged this to be unreasonable, they did not find failure to use the scheme unlawful due to the terms of the scheme. Instead, they reviewed the employment contract and company handbook to ensure there had been no breach in how the matter was handled.
Due to a term in the handbook permitting the employer to lay-off employees for short periods of time, the case was found in the employer’s favour. Here in the UK, this would need to be an express clause for ample protection.
This example goes to show that although a crisis can throw you in at the deep end on decision making, robust contracts and policies are there to save the day.
Celebrating women at work
Monday 8 March is International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge. In the words of the event organisers, “a challenged world is an alert world”.
After a difficult year which threatens the progress made on gender equality to date, the theme of this year’s event encourages everyone to call out and challenge gender bias and inequality.
Gender discrimination is illegal under the Equality Act 2010, but there is much more that can be done to protect, support and celebrate women, especially in the workplace.
Childcare needs due to school closures have been a particularly demanding issue of late, and this responsibility can often fall on mothers. Employers can help to challenge this through equal pay opportunities and family-friendly policies that acknowledge the flexibility needs of both parents.
Company culture also has a part to play. Why not give the women in your workplace a boost by recognising and celebrating #InternationalWomensDay?
A rapid route back to work
Rapid COVID testing, also known as lateral flow testing, is now helping some businesses to keep functional during the pandemic.
In a drive to increase COVID testing in the workplace, the UK government recently expanded their programme to provide these tests to more businesses in England. Employers with 50 or more employees can apply so long as the business is registered in England and employees cannot work from home.
Testing is being encouraged even in the absence of symptoms to help reduce the risk of transmission. The process may also instil confidence in those employees who cannot work from home and continue to go into work during the pandemic.
Tests for eligible businesses can be ordered through the UK government website, and are free for employers until 31 March.
Employers in Scotland and Wales should follow guidance from their devolved governments.
How to handle rejection
Learning to handle rejection is an important skill that helps us get by in life. It goes hand in hand with patience and motivation to improve.
However, when you’re the one doing the rejecting it is considerate to do so professionally, yet with empathy. Because this will often have a bearing on how the rejection is received and may also have an impact on your reputation.
Bear in mind that as well as the element of sensitivity to be considered (especially during times like these), that employment law applies to your process of rejecting candidates.
One employer received criticism recently for a rejection letter which went viral. In an attempt to lift spirits, the letter referenced several successful celebrities who had overcome rejection, including Michael Jordan. While trying to connect on a human level, many online commentators felt it struck the wrong tone, was cringe-worthy even.
Our thoughts? Spending a little time to develop a professional rejection response is the safest way to keep dignity intact for all involved. If you’re currently swimming in applications and need some advice, remember we’re here to help.
Taking a virtual stand
Earlier this month, Jackie Weaver became the nation’s new hero when she stood her ground in a viral parish council meeting gone wrong.
In a calm and collected manner, Ms Weaver simply evicted aggressive attendees from the meeting with the click of a button. Pre-lockdown, one may have decided to remove themselves by walking out of such a meeting. Has the safe distance of remote working turned the tables?
Difficult conversations on Zoom pose a new challenge for many people. If you would like the confidence to know your actions are the right ones in your video meetings, call us.