Anyone in the workforce these days knows it is harder than ever to keep work and personal life separate. With social media, ever-changing freedom of expression and privacy becoming less and less of a thing, you may find yourself in an odd situation at work.
Has your supervisor ever sent you a friend request? Yeah, me too. Often, it can put you in an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, it could be useful to get to know your boss a little better. Knowing your supervisor on a personal level can work wonders for your career, as sad as it is to say. I’ll touch on that a bit more later. But sharing a unique, and sometimes personal relationship with your boss could put you at the front of the line for a promotion or salary increase.
However, this essential yet sensitive coexistence between you and your supervisor could soon become strained without boundaries. Most employers require a set of boundaries for their employees to exude if they want to work for said organization. But how does one distinguish between adhering to company policy and being themselves?
The answer is harder than you think. In the age of digital media, where people share every aspect of their lives, where do you fall on the range of scale? Do you share little to nothing about your values, beliefs, and morals? Or perhaps, do you share too much? Maybe you censor yourself and fall somewhere in the middle.
Social media and the workplace
These are questions we must ask ourselves. Yet, the dynamic between you and your boss gets interesting when we discuss the possible ramifications of your decision to post a revealing picture of yourself or your feelings on a controversial topic on social media. Typically, there are two outcomes in this scenario. Your boss condemns your actions and now looks at you differently, or takes an interest in your post, likes it, and grows more fond of you.
You would hope they’d fall somewhere on the spectrum of taking anything you post with a grain of salt. Because for the most part, what you do in your personal life is none of their business. I mean, as long as you can get the job done, what’s the problem, right? However, it’s becoming increasingly clear this is usually not the case. More specifically, I’d argue it’s as tricky as it’s ever been to distance your personal and work life given the circumstances of the global pandemic.
More and more workplaces are reliant upon video conferencing services such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, yet, what comes with meeting from home is a decreased level of privacy. But what should also happen is an increased level of acceptance and understanding that people have lives outside of work. That you may hear your coworker’s kid on the microphone in the background of a meeting, and it shouldn’t change your outlook on the professionalism of said coworker.
Judgment is a powerful thing, especially in the workforce. The line of judging employees based upon their social media accounts was blurry before the pandemic. Therefore, as we become more involved in technology for working remotely, it could become even blurrier. Because supervisors now lack the in-person communication they are used to having, they may seek it elsewhere. They are likely to turn to social media to see what their employees have been doing. But this is a dangerous, slippery slope.
Your promotions at work shouldn’t come based solely on your supervisor liking you, just as you shouldn’t be taken out of consideration for one because they don’t like you. In many cases, we already see this take place. Often, if a supervisor has an open position they want to fill and want to promote from within, they’ll look at their employees from a critical standpoint. Mostly, they judge employees. If the judgment placed is off of work production, then it’s sound.
Where it becomes dangerous is when employers take off their work hats and put on their personal ones. When they favor a specific employee more because they have the same political party, or hold the same moral values. On the contrary, employers often criticize those who aren’t as similar to them more intensely, causing the slippery slope of potentially not choosing the most productive person for the job, but who they take to the most.
In essence, this spells trouble for any workforce around the world. We must make the line of censoring employees’ social media accounts more clear. Obviously, employees should hold themselves to the standard set before them by a company they want to be a part of, and if they don’t want to abide by regulations, they can leave.
However, in that same vein, an employee should be allowed to reasonably take stances on controversial topics, echo their thoughts on social media outlets, and remain themselves without fear of being discriminated against, or possibly even losing their job. We must strive for a balance that is reflective of this mindset, not against it. Without it, we run the risk of working in a society that believes we can’t coexist, and ultimately produce, with differences.