Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Let Your Employees Use Facebook


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Have you ever thought how much damage one employee can do to your business? Should they be banned from posting on Facebook?  If you don’t believe so read on, you may change your mind.

I have always prided myself with having a department staffed with positive and engaged employees even though the hospitality industry is one full of many challenges. My banquet team is used to working long days and nights with quick turn-arounds to an early breakfast the next day; that’s the business. But it doesn’t mean that anyone likes it.

One of the new challenges faced today, that was not an issue years ago, is having to deal with the Facebook’s of the world and their possible effect on your business.

We all know the power that “social media” sites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc. have on the youth of America.

And we all have heard and read that every business must also have a presence on these sites for marketing, promotional and word of mouth posturing. Having your business in the eyes, and on the lips, of the public is worth its weight in gold.  So it’s a good thing when your employees talk about your business on Facebook, et al., correct?

But what happens when your employees post unflattering, incorrect or downright damaging messages to their friends or “followers”?

How does this affect your business, your reputation, your impact in the business world?

Here are a few examples:

Employee Number 1

Doesn’t feel that she should have to work on a holiday since “all her friends are off from work”. She posts a message on Facebook that her job is “forcing her” to work on a holiday and that they don’t treat their employees well. She also states that her company doesn’t pay her enough to work a holiday and she is sick and tired of working when “we all should be off”.  This message goes out to all her “friends” and is possibly shared with their friends…

Well, gone are the days when a holiday is the quietest day of the month and the streets and business are deserted. Just ask the airline and retail industries if holidays are days that “we all should be off”. What about the police, fire and emergency medical personnel, or the utility companies; should they be off as well? Probably not.

But the friends and followers of this employee are now left with a half-truth or jaded picture of how that business treats their employees.  They may think the employees there are forced to work, receive lower than reasonable compensation and other employees are treated poorly and share her views too.

What follows next is that her friends will usually side with her viewpoint and will start a back and forth dialogue discussing the poor treatment she receives and what the working conditions are like at her “terrible job”.

Employee Number 2

Was just fired from his job for excessive absences, constant tardiness, or even theft and believes that the multiple chances already given him to keep his job is not enough. He feels that he was wronged by his termination and lashes out on Twitter when he gets home.

“They just fired me for nothing, so I came in a few times late, what’s the big deal?” he posts. “I have worked hard there for almost 1 year and this is how they treat me?” “This company is a terrible place to work” is the next post.  These tweets are “retweeted” over and over again providing a false account of the circumstances.

Of course employee number 2 will never fully explain the facts of his termination or that he has received numerous coaching sessions and other opportunities to address his job performance that ultimately led to his dismissal. But the negative comments stay on the internet forever, as well as their influence.

Employee Number 3

Had requested off from work but was not granted it due to business demands. The employee calls-out sick and doesn’t show up for work. The next day a fellow employee noticed a photo that was posted on Facebook of her out shopping with friends and going out to an afternoon movie.

When one of her friends asked her why she wasn’t at work Employee 3 typed “Oh, my manager has no clue, he’s not on Facebook, he’ll never know”. “Besides, I do this all the time”.

In this instance, the business is not so much affected but the manager is. He is maligned and his competence as an effective manager is damaged.

These are real-world examples of how employees can post seemingly, to them, innocuous statements on social media that can and will affect your business. Friends and family will usually take the side of their friend and believe what they are posting to be true, to be a fact, regardless if it is or not.

We are all aware of the power of social media and especially Facebook. Do you want your employees posting negative information about your business there for all the world to see?

Here are a few questions you must pose to your staff:

“Why do some employees feel it necessary, and appropriate, to post information regarding plans, procedures or possible scheduling needs about their department on social media sites?

Is it essential that your vast amount of Facebook fans or Twitter followers associated with your “pages” be informed that a company requires, as business dictates, staff to work when there is business? Especially for a business that is open 7 days a week? Should this even be an issue? I don’t believe so.”

“Each person within their department, as well as the management, has their own requests, desires, wants and obligations towards family and friends everyday of the week and not just on a holiday. Each of them has their own health and personal financial issues to tend to also. But is this the business of anyone outside this company? The answer is a resounding no.

But it becomes their business when you spread comments, posts and information on the internet. Then it becomes the business of all their contacts as well.”

Pretty cut and dry, no?

You might as well take an advertisement in all the local papers and TV news channels stating that Company XYZ is a terrible place to work and treats their employees poorly. This has the same impact as thousands of friends and followers on social media sites getting the wrong impression of your business. Is this any different than getting negative reviews on sites like Trip Advisor or Yelp?

A few negative reviews on sites like these can cost untold thousands of dollars in lost revenue, and broadcast a bad business reputation. All it takes to ruin your business is a few people, sitting in their pajamas and fuzzy slippers anonymously punching in harmful comments from their kitchen table. It’s the same for your employees on Facebook.

Of course this situation can be lessened with a positive work environment, well trained engaged staff that understands the customer service mindset and an open employee-to-supervisor relationship. This should prevent some negative postings but not when, based on business needs/demands, staff must work on holidays or can’t get days of as requested. At that point it is understandable that even the best employees may still gripe about their situation.

So your plan should be to set clearly defined rules regarding posting information on social media websites and make sure all your employees are aware of the policy.

Without it, your next customer walking through your doors may be the undertaker, because you have killed your business!

Or at least put it on life-support…

Share YOUR Facebook/Twitter horror stories with me in the comment section below…

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve DiGioia
Steve uses his 20+ years of experience in the hospitality industry to help companies and their employees improve service, increase morale and provide the experience their customers' desire. Author of "Earn More Tips On Your Very Next Shift...Even If You're a Bad Waiter" and named an "ICMI Top 50 Customer Service Thought Leader" and a "Top Customer Service Influencer" by CCW Digital, Steve continues his original customer service, leadership and management-based writings on his popular blog.


  1. Hi Jeff, thanks much for your comment.

    My intent for the article is not to suppress ideas, or the ability to voice issues and have access to the internet and social media. It is to identify a concern as a manager of how an employee can pass on misleading information on social media sites that may paint an unflattering image of a business without being validated.

    Many people believe that once it is written it is correct. That is not always the case.

    There should be guidelines as to what is and what is not expected of an employee regardless of the business or industry. It is too easy to portray one in a negative light that almost becomes truth if not dealt with in an appropriate manner.

    There are contractual clauses in many industries that do prevent, or at least limit, what can be said under certain circumstances/situations. I believe that “first, do no harm” should apply to more than just the medical field.

    Thanks again, greatly appreciated.

  2. Hi Steve

    Obviously, it would be unreasonable as well as probably illegal (at least in the US with its written constitutional right to free speech) to curb the rights of staff to use Facebook to engage in social conversations.

    There are (at least) two sides to every story. Employees on Facebook provide their side of the story to their friends. I wonder how much influence they really have on your Resort’s customers. Your blog post provides your side of the story to everybody who reads it on CustomerThink. Again, I wonder how much influence it really has on your Resort’s customers. Probably, not much in either case. I suspect the real truth lies somewhere between your employees’ and your respective positions.

    It sounds like you should be finding ways to Wow! your employees, as well as ways to wow your customers.

    Graham Hill

  3. Your final prescriptive, i.e. having an inclusive, customer-centric culture where employees are regarded as assets and contributors to value delivery, is perhaps the most effective approach here. This isn’t 1984. It’s 2016, and having restrictive and cloistered policies with respect to staff participation in social media will just as likely backfire. One, or more, motivated and alienated employee will still find ways of expressing negativism, online and offline. More progressive companies have learned how to protect their reputations, and it’s typically not with restrictive rules and regulations.. So, an ounce of cultural prevention may be worth much more than the pound of policy and protocol cures you suggest.

  4. I’m with Jeff on this – when it comes to controlling or limiting employees’ speech, employers are restricted to legal boundaries. If employee conversations about a company’s culture, actions, or activities pose a risk or threat to revenue, employers are right to be concerned. But they might not be right from a legal perspective in restricting the conversations. Before unwittingly stepping into a pile of legal poop, I recommend that employers know their legal rights and limitations.

    The operative word is know, not be familiar with. The link that Jeff provided is a helpful start. But such postings are indicative of deeper festering problems. When I read the rants of others, my top question is always ‘before this was broadcast to the world, how many missed opportunities were there to address this issue?’

    Two related articles I wrote might be of interest: Human Talent or Party Animal? When an Employee’s Social Media Content Becomes a Legal Liability, and Complainer Emptor! When Does Online Rage Become Unfair? – on CustomerThink.

  5. I also agree with Graham and Michael. Assuming you were to implement conversational covenants with employees, when would you find it best to initiate it – at the employment interview? At the employee’s first day on the job? A short time after starting work?

    Whenever it’s done, what message would that send to employees (or prospective ones) to have certain restrictions about what they can say should they become frustrated or disgruntled printed on a contractual form and slid to him or her across the desk to sign, along with the explanation that employment is contingent on adhering to it? The ones that find it acceptable would likely be employees that you don’t want.

  6. Hello Graham

    I think you touched on a great point. There ARE two sides of the story but many times the negative side tends to hold greater weight than the positive. Especially when the public believes an employee has been wronged by the “evil” business.

    Yes, we know this may be an exaggeration but there is some basis in truth.

    I never took the businesses response to a poor review on TripAdvisor or Yelp as much more than a boilerplate effort to pacify a potentially wronged customer.

    The customer, or employee, is always right? Maybe, maybe not.

    Thanks for joining the discussion.

  7. Michael,

    You are so correct, a positive and engaged workforce should be less inclined to share potentially false accusations on social media. But as with most other HR-related aspects, a business shouldn’t fail to enforce certain policies deemed potentially harmful to the success of the business.

    A slippery slope it is, thanks much!

  8. Hi Andrew,

    I found your article, “Human Talent or Party Animal?” very interesting but it also seems to agree with my point of view, no? At least according to blogger Kenneth Liu as quoted in the post.

    I believe the bottom line is prudence on the side of the employee and clean expectations from the business.

    On your second point, at the new employee orientation at minimum, all the policies and basic procedures should be addressed and the “social media policy” would be part of this. There may be times or for certain positions where it may be best to address this within the interview process. It this leads to a prospective employee turning down the position then it will be for the best since they will probably be the first to break policy.

    Thanks Andrew.


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