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To Friend or Not to Friend - Facebook in the Workplace

Before you accept or invite a coworker to be your friend on Facebook there are things to consider. It may seem like it’s not a big decision, but it can have very real, unforeseen repercussions. You may even feel it’s just being “nice” to accept a coworker’s invite, cut-and-dried, simple, >click<, ACCEPT, right? Not so. In fact, there are more cons, than pros. Business contacts are another matter, if you happen to share a fair amount of business related posts, Facebook friending is one way to keep in touch with them. However, even this, may be better suited to platforms like LinkedIn.

In a recent article for Time Magazine, Workplace Reporter Dan Schawbel’s reasoning is as follows, “The people you associate with have an impact on how successful you are. If you align yourself with the wrong people and they post hurtful, racist, outlandish or immature comments on your wall, it makes you look as just as bad. Think twice before adding friends who could tarnish the reputation you’ve worked so hard to build.”

If you decide you need to unfriend a coworker it could cause you more stress and wreak havoc in your workplace atmosphere. According to the New York Post, a 2015 decision by a workplace tribunal in Australia ruled that unfriending someone on Facebook is considered bullying. This situation led to a messy court case.

Let’s suppose you work in a situation that is really high pressure and felt you needed to start looking for another job. You go on an interview with a company that is a competitor. You have a really fantastic interview and check in (with no posting) at that company. A coworker you have friended sees your check in and reports to your boss that you’ve been at a competitor’s company and he or she now suspects you are looking for another job. Think it was tough to work there before? It just got tougher.

It can be especially perilous to friend a manager or boss. They hold the passport to successful travel in your workplace and you don’t want to do anything to jeopardize it. Suppose your boss is someone who takes a hard line on alcohol consumption - of any kind - and you post on your Facebook page that you went to a party, got tipsy and had to be driven home. It could send up a red flag and from then on their decisions about your fitness for promotion or even bigger projects could be colored by that post. Perhaps you swear in your Facebook posts or frequently rant, your boss could potentially feel you are uncouth or high strung, thereby planting the seeds of doubt as to your professionalism.

Even after you have left a company, and perhaps go to work for the competition do you really want old coworkers (now your competitors) to find out your business details such as you have an upcoming pitch for a new client? It could give them the same idea to go after that client, since you have alerted them to the fact that this potential client is open to being pitched.

On the other side of the question are a few pros to consider, among them that coworkers whom you friend get a better picture of who you are and even find common ground outside of work which can improve workplace camaraderie. Shawn Achor author of “the Happiness Advantage”did a study that found the employees who are “the most unwilling to develop workplace friendships seem to be the least likely to be promoted.” Naturally, the longer you are with a company, the more likely you will develop friendships and bonds outside of work, it’s a natural progression. Just consider carefully who you friend (or unfriend) on Facebook.


Salty Red Dog Marketing, LLC is a marketing agency in Darien, CT & NYC. We service businesses with marketing strategies, social media and consultations.


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