Can Facebook Really Help Solve Employee Misconduct Problems?


Had enough of debating about social media checking and whether we should use it when making hiring or promotion decisions? In the HR and Recruitment online networks we do seem to spend a lot of time talking about judging others by what they say on social media platforms. Whether it’s hiring managers looking to check out candidates as part of the recruitment process, or job seekers researching companies (and individuals) who they may wish to work for, there is always a healthy debate about how we interpret what others say.

Well maybe Air New Zealand have found a whole new use for it in dealing with ER issues.

They fired one of their flight attendants after she took sick leave to look after her sister. She took them to the Employment Relations Authority for unfair dismissal and AirNZ asked to see her bank accounts and have access to her Facebook page for the days concerned. She resisted as the company didn’t have these when they sacked her, and she felt they were private, but the ERA agreed with the company that she should hand them over to support her claim saying they would provide ‘substantially helpful advice’. As yet we don’t know the outcome.

Employment lawyers and employment commentators in New Zealand have been having their say:

“At a time when we think we are behaving privately or at least within a restricted circle of friends, we are actually effectively on trial”

“And the courts see Facebook as a wonderful asset because all of a sudden not only do we have the potential for pictures and so forth but . . . we can see what time statements were made and pictures were taken”

“Because while this is best evidence . . . doesn’t it creep you out a bit? It feels intrusive and just, frankly, wrong”

“Not only can often a picture tell a thousand words, but in disputes about when things happened Facebook quite often has a time stamp”

Social media updates may land you in trouble with your employers but may also be able to either corroborate or disprove whether you’re guilty of misconduct.

Are they ever really private?

And if not then can they be interpreted and used as an integral part of employee relations?

If so who judges context, syntax, intent or meaning?

And can we really take them seriously?

Let me know what you think…

(Image : Hobbit Safety Video)

Sherlock Holmes and the Curious Case of the Bursting Facebook Bubble

It may have escaped your notice but the bubble has burst. We’re falling out of love with Facebook. It’s all over. 100,000 of us in the UK have ‘deactivated’ accounts. 700,000,000 still use it but it’s clearly all over now.

The media has been awash with it. Whoopin’ and Hollerin’ the mainstream print and broadcast media have been sounding the death knell. Last night on TV two newspaper reviewers triumphantly declared the bubble burst. They admitted that they don’t use Facebook, or have accounts…but they knew it was over, that it couldn’t last.

The headlines were there – ‘Are we falling out of love with Facebook’ and ‘How to de-activate your Facebook account’. Everyone has a theory, everyone knows why. It’s the trivia, the embarrassing photos, the privacy…IT’S BECAUSE EVEN YOUR MOTHER IS ON IT                !

Except…we’ve heard it all before.

Look at this…

This wasn’t today or yesterday’s news. This was an article from 22nd FEBRUARY 2008! The bubble had burst then! It burst after 200,000,000 members, never mind 700,000,000! And the journalist who wrote that article also knew the reasons. It’s the trivia, the embarrassing photos, the privacy…IT WAS BECAUSE EVEN YOUR MOTHER IS ON IT! She added another one…apparently we were turning away from it because we didn’t like the politics of the founder.

I checked the newspaper’s online archive and the article was no longer there. Every other one from 22nd February 2008 seemed to be…but not that one.

I’m sure there will be more theories. Ignore the fact that the next generation to enter the workforce, and the media, barely know any other way to communicate…it’s over. You choose the reason.

What do I think?

I think Sherlock Holmes had it right…not once but twice

It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgement.’

‘It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.’

What do you think?


The End of the Phone?

The way we communicate and interact is changing. This has big ramifications for business…Recruitment may never be the same again!

Let’s spin back nearly 50 years to a famous moment in music history:

“guitar groups are on the way out, the Beatles have no future in show business” (Dick Rowe, January 1962)

Mr Rowe (allegedly it was he) had just watched an hour’s audition from a new pop group and was clearly sure that although this new fangled beat music may be popular, it wouldn’t outsell the more traditional forms of popular music. It was all a fad. And he knew, because he was a successful A&R man who usually got things right.

Not this time!

How wrong could he have been?? 50 years later the group that had no future still cast a long shadow over popular music.

Of course he underestimated the power of the 16 – 25 age group to influence popular culture from the bottom up. **

What about phones I hear you ask?

Well, the great and the good of recruitment are lining up to get us back on the phone. All this new fangled Social Media may be popular but it won’t replace traditional forms of communication.

Well I think it will.

If Dick Rowe were a recruitment trainer today he would probably say: Social Media is on the way out, it has no future as a business communication tool.

He’d be wrong again.

The people we are now bringing into the workforce are from the first generation NOT to have had a landline phone as their primary communication tool. They are used to communicating through short messages…whether by text, IM, Facebook, Twitter or short mobile chats. When they organise to do something they create an event. They love social interaction but face to face is way more important than ear to ear.

Teens invariably start by using mobile Pay As You Go…not an arrangement that rewards long conversations.

Relationships are built in a very different way now.

Anyone who thinks they can bring a 21 year old trainee into the workplace and expect them to use the phone in the way we have always done for cold calling and relationship building are in for a shock. You may have been able to teach telesales…but not how to use a basic communication tool.

Ask any 18 – 21 year old how they interact with their mates and organize parties, evenings out or cinema trips and I think you’ll be surprised. But then you’ll understand why they may accept an invitation for an assessment day but not actually turn up. It’s not rudeness; it’s not a lack of interest in your opportunity…it’s just that commitment and communication happen in different ways now.

You can send a text, but then they’ve probably signed up for so many text alerts and updates that yours may not stand out.

You can send an e-mail, but then they probably won’t read it.

You can invite them through Facebook, but then they get invited to lots of things through Facebook.

You can ring, but you’ll probably be leaving a voicemail.

And even if you do get a message through, they won’t have a calendar or diary to put it in…only their mobile phone. Your assessment day will probably end up being the day after a mate’s birthday drinks and will gently slide from memory.

The times they are a-changing…the recruiter of tomorrow will not have the communication skills to build meaningful relationships over the phone, let alone make a cold call.

You can’t teach communication.

Business relationships of the future will be defined by the way people interact and communicate.

Like The Beatles social media and mobile technology offer platforms that will probably cast a giant shadow over how business communicates for the next 50 years.

It’s changing already. Those of you in the London area may have seen me on BBC London news a couple of weeks ago talking about how what you can say on Twitter could affect your job. One of their reporters read this blog and contacted me, asking if they could interview me. They didn’t call me and they didn’t e-mail me…they sent me a message through Facebook. And I don’t even have a link to my Facebook page on my blogsite.

I’ve written before how my favourite quote of recent weeks was the one from a Clay Shirky interview:

no medium ever survived the indifference of 25 year olds’

25 year olds are very indifferent towards the landline phone, e-mail, letters and long conversations..

The future workforce will dictate the way business ultimately communicates…and I’m fairly sure that it won’t be on the landline phone.

Let me know what you think.

** (To set the record straight, Mr Rowe eventually must have seen the error of his ways and signed a number of bands who would go on to dominate the music industry including The Rolling Stones, Them – including Van Morrison – The Animals and Tom Jones…will our industry thought leaders be similarly as visionary?)

The World is Your Recruiter

We used to offer jobseekers one pair of eyes…sometimes a few pairs of eyes…but now the whole world has their eyes open.

Two meetings this afternoon have really energised me and got me thinking, yet shown me how network and community are increasingly doing the job of 3rd party recruiters.

Is this the dawn of Community Recruiting? It’s free for the hirer. It’s part of the ‘Big Society’

Firstly, I had a great catch up with Marianne Cantwell today. Twitter followers will know her as Free Range Humans, career change coach and corporate life escapologist. Soon she’ll be Free Ranging in the USA!

She was very excited; she had found a business card on a bus which was part of a Facebook campaign by a Graphic Designer called Mark Winter to find a new job. He was offering 10% of his first month’s salary to whoever helped him:

Marianne had photographed the card and tweeted it out. Within minutes it was being retweeted by her network. She showed it to me and I started tweeting it out…and then decided to blog about it.

Within 5 minutes the reach of his campaign was growing fast. Who knows how many other people have seen this campaign and communicated it…from his modest number of followers many thousands are being exposed to his work.

Thousands of pairs of eyes.

After meeting with Marianne I caught up with an old candidate who was coming to the end of a long contract with a major global brand. It’s been really good for her, especially as it came following a redundancy and prolonged period of job searching. She knows a lot of recruiters. Did any of us find her this lucrative contract, which has given her a great development opportunity and a brilliant name on her CV? No. It was through a friend who has nothing to do with recruitment or HR, but who knows someone, who knows someone, who…you get the picture. Now I appreciate that this kind of referral recruitment has long been around, but it has now been given added impetus and strength by connectivity, network and a real sense of wanting to help.

Time was that people would job search in private. Certainly using friends, friends of friends and family to spread the message is something more recent.

Friends and family, network and community.

Then I fire up the laptop this morning and start by reading Day 13 of the #MyJobHunt daily blog series from Gary Franklin. I don’t know if you’re following this series, but you should. All 3rd party and inhouse recruiters, and anyone involved in the hiring process should.

He talks about a role that was passed to him. He mentions the company name and the role. It’s  not a role for him, but in his capacity as founder of the Forum for Inhouse Recruitment Managers he is able to inform relevant candidates, passive and active, of this role.

So it looks like we’re all recruiters now!

I’ve been thinking about where recruitment goes next. Whilst some niches, sectors and locations may find its business as usual I think that there are clearly many challenges ahead for the majority. Social recruiting and direct sourcing are just two, but not the only two.

So it could be time for a change on this blog. I feel myself in more philosophical or reflective mood, keen to blog and debate about some of the key challenges that I see and to get your input.

It’s time for the dinosaur to evolve and move on! T Recs may well remain in some form…but I think this may be time for a more agile and forward looking image!

Watch this space…and as always, let me know what you think…

Controlling The Message??

I’ve noticed a lot of concern voiced recently over the possibility of employees saying negative things through social media which may affect their employer’s brand or image. There’s a neat summary on this blog by Michael Carty and I was involved in at least 2 group discussions at HRevolution on the subject.

HR clearly feels that they will have to pick up the pieces. I’ve heard talk of controlling the message, of laying down ground rules and guidelines for staff who want to blog, tweet or go on Facebook fan pages.

Yet I wonder what damage is done when a senior person in an organisation voices something, either planned or spontaneously, that gives a negative impression of the business. And why are there no controls, guidelines or ground rules for them?

Surely an employer being indiscrete does more damage than an employee?

Some readers will remember the entrepreneur Gerald Ratner. For those unfamiliar, he was CEO of a large high street jewellery group. He once commented in a speech:

“People say, “How can you sell this for such a low price?”, I say, “because it’s total crap”.

When commenting on the earrings that his shops sold, he said that they were:

“cheaper than a Marks & Spencers prawn sandwich but probably wouldn’t last as long”

Needless to say there was an immediate negative impact on the business …the value of the group plummeted £500million with loss of custom and jobs. Clearly customers don’t like to taken for granted, but then neither do employees. Who wants to work for a company whose goods can be dismissed so lightly by the CEO? Negative employees don’t always put shoppers off, but a CEO dismissing his products will.

Most of my regular followers will know that I’m a supporter of Arsenal Football Club. Well this weekend I received my season ticket renewal application. It’s not cheap supporting a football team, particularly if you go to matches every week, and Arsenal is one of the more expensive clubs to follow, yet loyal supporters’ passions are not normally subject to cost criteria. They do, however, go into each new season with an expectation of seeing some success.

Football followers will know that Arsenal haven’t won a trophy for 5 years and that, whilst they may play some exciting football, supporters begin to get restless.

So it was a bit disconcerting to see the manager, Arsene Wenger, say last week that finishing 3rd in the Premiership, and therefore qualifying for the Champions League, is like winning a trophy. The rationale for this I believe is that if you don’t win the 2 main trophies (Champions League or Premiership) then automatic qualification for the Champions League will net you about £20,000,000 whilst winning the FA Cup will net you £1,800,000.

Which makes great commercial sense…yet will hardly quicken the pulse or heart rate of a supporter about to hand over a lot of money for their entertainment next season who desperately want to see their team win. Hardly the best sales pitch…come and watch us finish 3rd.

Never mind the customers (like me) what about the current and future employees?? A top club employs, and hires, players who want to be the best and win…yet what if your boss effectively tells you that not winning will be OK? That finishing 3rd is like winning? Can I be confident that when I turn up next season I will be watching players who want to win trophies…or just finish 3rd?

We football fans are used to seeing players moan about their clubs, and openly tout themselves as available for transfer, and none of this dims the supporters’ enthusiasm…yet a negative message from the manager (the voice of the club in terms of exposure) can achieve this instantly.

I can understand concern over employees voicing negative thoughts…but will a policy to counter this also cover comments from managers and owners?

What are the most damning comments you have come across…and what effect did they have?

The Conversation That Never Sleeps….

Social media is a conversation; it’s a number of platforms, a set of tools that enables conversation, engagement, transferal of thoughts, ideas and information…

It’s New York New York…the City that never sleeps

Its Old Man River…it just keeps rolling 

It’s a neverending networking event!

So many times I hear ‘I’d like to try Twitter, give it a go, see what it’s all about, but I don’t have the time’ and I say ‘just dip in and join in the conversation…you can dip in and out, or you can stay around a bit longer, make some contacts, read some interesting stuff you won’t see anywhere else’ 

I believe it changes the way we communicate, because there’s no end! If you phone someone – a client, a candidate, a contact – then there’s a beginning and an end to the call, and if you want to move forward you need to conclude with an action. You can’t just pick up the phone an hour later and say something else. 

But with social media, there’s always a chance to pick up the conversation, anytime! Whatever you talk about, you’re engaging with people. As long as you’ve got something interesting, engaging, informative or just plain funny to say, then people won’t mind hearing from you. 

There are very few HR professionals and recruiters from the UK on Twitter, which is a shame. I would love to be able to build an online rapport with them. I speak to many in the US and chat about all sorts of things. I have often asked them ‘if I was US based, then you could well be my client or my candidate – if that was the case, how would you feel about the conversations that we have?’ 

They usually tell me that it wouldn’t make any difference, that the business and personal can easily mix…this is who I am, take me or leave me. They feel the same about Facebook. In the UK though I think it’s a bit different, it’s more…

No Facebook Please, We’re British! 

Will it change? I think it will, eventually! 

So for this post I’m going to throw down the challenge to everyone from the UK reading this who is not blogging, tweeting, contributing to groups on Linked In, or generally joining in the conversation… 

Come on in, the water’s fine….!

Power of Social Media : Collectivism, Individualism or another ism

We’re all allowed to change our minds, right? One of the exciting things about Social Media is its instantaneousness. And if you’re using Twitter, it’s brevity. 140 characters don’t really give you the space to evolve a theory, put forward an argument. You act, you react, and you shoot from the hip and type. You hit ‘send’ and think ‘did I say what I meant to say?’

I say this because I’ve changed my mind over something. On Sunday night in the UK a lot of us got excited about the race to be Number 1 in the Top 40 music charts. I say ‘music’ because it used to be the singles chart. But it isn’t anymore. A lot of music is now downloaded, not bought over the counter, and last year this led to the chart compilers deciding that tracks did not have to be released as physical singles to feature in the chart. If they could be purchased as a download then they could be counted.

This isn’t a post about music though; it’s about Social Media and the potential that it has to change things.

My immediate thought on hearing the news was ‘YES’!! The marketing might of the Cowell machine has spent its millions but had just been outsmarted by a Facebook campaign started by a part time DJ and his wife who wanted to challenge the omnipotence of the mediocrity that X Factor represents.

I immediately tweeted that this was a big moment for Social Media, that the big issue wasn’t who won but that a social media campaign, starting with 2 people and spreading to 700,000, made a big statement to big business. I noticed other tweets saying much the same, and Bill Boorman summarised it very well in his blog.

And yet…and yet…thinking it through yesterday morning I began to question, to see lost possibilities.

Fed up with seeing the Xmas Number 1 (in the great cultural scheme of things a fairly irrelevant accolade) effectively chosen for us by 1 individual, we have slapped him down and really shown him who controls the marketplace by ensuring that this year’s Number 1…has been chosen for us by 1 individual. Plus ca change??

Now I’m not knocking Jon Morter at all, am fully supportive of his motivations, and I can understand why he would choose a song with such a strong anti-corporate message for this purpose, but I ask you…our response to people buying any old mush that Cowell releases is to rush out and buy a download of a 17 year old track that a Facebook Group tells us to. Is this just another form of naive collectivism…following the herd for the end not the means?

To me Social Media offers unlimited possibilities for individualism. If we really want a revolution then shouldn’t we  just go out and do it, find like minded people and make things happen, rather than just find others doing it and tag along?

Oh the sweet victory if those 700,000 could have found a talented, unknown musician fully deserving of a wider audience and propel them to Number 1! Over 500,000 downloads selling because people use the power Social Media to spread  music that wouldn’t otherwise be heard would be a real coup.

Maybe we should be running a Social Media X Factor…let up and coming musicians circulate their work within a chart acceptable download environment.  Lets face it, 700,000 Facebook members bought 500,000 downloads whilst 20 million TV viewers only bought 450,000. Doesn’t that show the passion and power that should be tapped in to?

I’m hoping that the ‘power’ of Social Media doesn’t just become a channel for evangelical causes created by people with time on their hands for others to follow. Maybe I’m being too much of an idealist, but my question is:

What should the Power of  Social Media be about?? Collectivism or Individualism. How do we get a mixture of the two?

It would be great to get your thoughts!