Being Facebook Friends with Employees/Coworkers

Do you have a Facebook policy? Does it regulate if managers can be "friends" with the employees they supervise? I think the general consensus (except from the attorneys thinking strictly of employment law and liability) is that you let employees know they should adhere to the same standards on FB as they do in the office, etc.

Earlier this week, I posted about this topic on the Technology for HR blog (to see the post, [URL=""]click here[/URL]). Frank chimed in with a scenario I hadn't even thought of -- what do you do when one of your FB "friends" leaves the organization?

I'm FB friends with people I have worked with at other companies and that used to work here at M. Lee Smith and have never run into any problems.

Any of you have FB work-related horror stories?


  • 21 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I have a facebook profile for my HR "persona" and I have 815 friends. Most are current or former staff. So far it hasn't been an issue.

    Sometimes an applicant will add me and that can be a little awkward when they are not hired. I just figure they will delete or "hide" me if they no longer want to see my posts, status updates, etc.

    I don't post personal stuff on my HR persona. I keep it more professional (well, professional for me anyways).

    Frankly I am suprised at how many of our staff want to be my facebook friend. Hopefully that means that they have a positive view of me and welcome my presence in their "online" life.
  • As for leaving the organization, its not an issue. Our former staff like to hear whats going on and see the photos and videos I post.

    I have noticed that former staff tease me more than current staf... cheeky monkeys!
  • We don't have a FB policy, specifically, but we do have standards governing what you say about the company in a public setting. So far, we haven't had a problem (knock on wood!) with people badmouthing coworkers/the company online.

    I think it's difficult when you're in HR to "Friend" people online (or in the office, for that matter). Because of this, I do occasionally accept friend requests, but only from managers or people on my team, and I have a privacy setting specifically for coworkers which shows very little information, and only specific photo albums. It was a little work to get together, but in the end, I feel like I can participate without having to worry.
  • We do not have a policy other than our normal 'don't embarrass the company' policy.

    I have only had one awkward situation with it so far. A new employee friended me, and since she was already friends with several other employees I agreed. She then sent friend requests to every friend I have to help her play the games. I didn't like it. I would have helped her out my connecting her to people I knew played games, but I didn't appreciate her contacting people that I knew would not like it. After debating the issue for a few days I finally talked to her about it. She apologized. Hopefully she will think before she acts that way again. (Sometimes we don't realize we are being rude until someone points it out.)

    All in all I would have preferred NOT to go there. It was a learning experience for both of us.
  • Perhaps you need to clarify "I'll be your friend but I won't help out your farm" policy?
  • [quote=Paul in Cannon Beach;720641]Perhaps you need to clarify "I'll be your friend but I won't help out your farm" policy?[/quote]

    Ah, yes, that silly farm game....another reason I don't do Facebook.
  • CNGR: If all your family is close by and you can keep in contact with them all the time then you have no need for fb. My family (as well as many of my friends) is spread out around the country. I hear from nieces and nephews (and great-neices and great-nephews) that I would never hear from or so much about in the normal course of events. I also see what is going on with some of the friends (and even school friends) of my daughters (youngest is 30). And last week I contacted a woman who was one of my bridesmaids. We lost touch with each other 20 years ago so I was very excited to find her.

    If you don't want to play games you don't have to. You can set your fb account up not to get any, or to exclude specific ones. I have many family and friends who do just that. I love fb and check the update feed every day. It's a great way to keep in touch.
  • Yeah, Nae, I know all the arguments for it. I have some family here in town and some scattered around the country, and one of my sisters is always bugging me about getting on Facebook. This particular sister can apparently spend quite a bit of time on Facebook but won't even take a few minutes to answer my e-mails, so I don't think she's all that interested in keeping in touch with me personally to begin with.

    Even though my life is very fulfilling, busy, and happy, I just think it would be a bit of vanity to assume that there were very many people out there who would find it fascinating enough to follow on a social networking site. I am also a big fan of more personal communication than putting things out on a site where 850 of your very bestest "friends" can see it, but personal communication seems to be something of a thing of the past. I am close to my DIL and she spends a lot of time on Facebook, so she ends up passing on most of the important things going on with me to everybody on there, so if I were on there it would be kind of redundant.

    And yes, I know if you don't want to play the games on Facebook, you don't have to....I was just being a smart-aleck when I made that comment.
  • I can't imagine actually spending a lot of time on fb unless you are playing games or actually talking to someone. I occassionally spend some time talking with one of our girls in California (she is a step-daughter actually, but after 33 years...), or my sister in Cincinnati. Sometimes we get off FB and actually call to finish the conversation, and sometimes we just wrap it up online. I sometimes talk to Paul online too. He is a real crackup. Unless we are talking about golf. :)

    In any case, I do play some games when I am watching tv. Otherwise, I check in once (sometimes twice) a day to see what everyone is up to and to check out any new pictures. Sometimes people do post silly things, but mostly it helps me keep in touch. Alot of my 'friends' are neices and nephews on my hubby's side. He never seems to talk to anyone much but his mom, and her not that often. So fb is a blessing to me in many ways.
  • Facebook keeps you connected with people in the same way the evening news tells you what happened that day. Its just the highlights and its highly edited, highly controlled.

    That said, its wonderful for posting photos/videos and staying up to date on the generally trivial but interesting tidbits of our lives.

    I dont play any games. I tried Farmville but I found it stressful.
  • I grew up on a farm, and a lot of my childhood friends are in farming now. I can't believe how many of them play Farmville. I can't imagine going home and spending hours every night on a game called "Personnelville".
  • Here is an article about a young lady who solved the Facebook/work acquaintances dilemma by creating two FB accounts (like I have). I think it will be a more common practice.


    The article also touches on how blurry the line between work and social time has become.
  • Paul, interesting article and approach. Just wondering, tho, what you do when a "work friend" develops into a "friend friend." Do you move them from your FB workplace persona to the leisure one? Or do you make them part of both universes? tk
  • There are just a few people (about 4 out of 800) who are my "friends" on both pages. These are individuals who have worked for our organization or have some relationship to it but also know me well personally.

    I get several requests from staff or ex-staff to be friends with me on my personal page (that bears my name) and I just email them and tell them I will add them to my HR mgr page.
  • Since this is the current Facebook thread, I'm going to put it here, even though it's a little off topic.

    A school board in Connecticut has agreed to a settlement where a newly hired superintendent resigns but get his $150,000 salary and benefits for six months or until he finds a new job, whichever is sooner. The first day of his contract was July 1, and schools were closed. He posted on his Facebook page that he had spent the morning sleeping in and playing on the Internet and "If every day is like this, it'll be the best job ever![U][/U]"

    A friend responded that he shouldn't get used to it, and he came back with "I noticed that… my first day on-site involved counseling an administrator to retire or face termination. :)"

    And that was the post that sunk his battleship (you can read the whole article at [URL][/URL]).

    Obviously, that wasn't the smartest thing to post (especially using a :) smiley when referring to such a serious matter!). I think it may be a good example of how some people forget that they aren't talking to just the friend whose comment they are responding to and that there actually can be 100s of other people in on that conversation.

    But is it an offense worth termination? Do you think if he'd been doing the job well for 10 years the board still would have pushed him out (versus an unproven guy starting off on the wrong foot)?
  • Before social media most people would think twice about saying something like the comment this man made, particularly concerning their work responsibilities. But within social media, some try to be more clever that anyone else. Unfortunately, many just come across as crass and insensitive.

    I think that lack of tact alarms employers. They see or hear of something an employee says in an open forum and can't help but wonder if that employee is careless enough to blurt out something offensive or confidential in other settings.

    I'm not sure that I would have taken the same steps as the employer in the article, but I would have thought long and hard before letting the employee slide.

    Just my two cents.

  • My DIL was just hired at a national chain Mexican restaurant. Part of her paperwork included signing a statement that she would not "badmouth" the restaurant on any social networking site while or after being employed. I'm having flashes of demonstrations and freedom of speech signs. Anyone have an opinion?
  • Any chance you could get a copy of that agreement? I would love to read it. Does it actually say "badmouth"?
  • We will have similar language in our policy.
  • [QUOTE=joannie;720754]My DIL was just hired at a national chain Mexican restaurant. Part of her paperwork included signing a statement that she would not "badmouth" the restaurant on any social networking site while or after being employed. I'm having flashes of demonstrations and freedom of speech signs. Anyone have an opinion?[/QUOTE]

    I thought 'freedom of speech' really applied to government employees, at least as far as employment goes.

    I think it is common practice for employers to have a policy where the employee cannot publicly make the employer look bad (embarrass it). It is interesting that some companies are starting to specifically designate social networking sites in that policy.
  • I don't think I've ever worked for a company that [B]didn't[/B] have a policy against public criticism, within guidelines provided for by the CBA (on the occasions when a CBA applied). I think employers are just clarifying that they consider cyberspace a public arena.
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