What to do when your employee posts nasty things about you on Facebook

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Crystal Spraggins

It’s a pretty common scenario nowadays. An employee with a complaint about your company gets on social media and tells the whole world how much she thinks you suck. Ouch.

You’re not at all pleased with this display of dirty laundry and disloyalty, and your feelings are a little hurt, too. What an ingrate! Perhaps this employee should work elsewhere—you’d be only too happy to show her the door.

But wait! Maybe there’s a better way to handle the situation. Before giving the employee the boot, consider:

Politely requesting a cease and desist

In the practical sense, that is. Dust off that company policy manual. I’m betting there’s something in there about how disparaging the organization is a big no no. If the employee has clearly violated the rules, let her know. She’ll probably be so embarrassed to be found out she’ll never post another nasty again.

Ignoring it

Depending on your company size, the nature of the complaint, and the complainer’s position within the organization, you might just want to ignore those grumblings. Employees complain about their jobs all the time, and the larger the company the more complaints that are bound to surface. Do you think Walmart reprimands every associate who posts something unflattering about the company? Please. 

Digging deeper

If you’re seeing a lot of employee complaints about matters of significance, maybe there’s a real issue that needs attention. When you view those complaints in light of your turnover stats, your sales numbers, or your customer feedback, do you see a negative pattern? If so, perhaps it’s time to ask a few questions about what’s really going on within the company. Who knows? This could be the beginning of a wonderful new phase in the life of the organization! 

(Bonus points if your company is doing fine, but you’re interested enough in your employees’ well being that you ask a few questions anyway.)

Weighing it down

You’d be amazed at how efficiently good press can outweigh bad. Yes, your employees are complaining about you on Facebook, but your Facebook page is covered with stories about charities you support, awards you’ve won, and employee-friendly programs. As they say, every story has two sides. Make sure you tell yours.

Finally, remember that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) guarantees employees the right to discuss work conditions freely, so while you may not appreciate certain public comments your employees have posted, the law may protect their right to post them.

Compensation Best Practice Report

7 Comments

  1. 7 Crystal Spraggins 06 Mar

    @Jare

    "I will generally recommend employers to be sensitive and make every effort to make the organization a great place to work."

    From your lips to God's ears!

     

  2. 6 Crystal Spraggins 06 Mar

    Sorry to hear about what's happening in your company, Jess. That's too bad. 

  3. 5 Crystal Spraggins 06 Mar

    @Dana and Wendy. Point well taken, and thanks for the link, Dana! 

    I most definitely DON'T recommend dusting off a handbook written in say, 1978, to address a social media issue, but come on -- handbooks are always dusty(!), because no one ever reads them until there's a problem.

    But again, point well taken.

     

  4. 4 Jess 06 Mar
    I definitely agree with the digging deeper, in my areas, my current organization included, there is usually a trend, and management seems to just ignore the issues, making everything worse. If they saw the problem and worked to fix it, maybe even to speak to the complainers and apologize for the stress it is putting on them, that their way of expressing it was probably not the best way of doing it and that they would work on the issues, perhaps staff morale would go up.  
  5. 3 Jare John-Mabun 05 Mar

    This is a good one. 

    I will only NOT advice smaller organizations to ignore complains especially from the good employees cos it may just be a pointer to the smoke that will soon become fire.

    I will generally recommend employers to be sensitive and make every effort to make the organization a great place to work.

  6. 2 Wendy K. 05 Mar

    I totally agree with Dana. Before any actions I recommend reviewing the NLRB General Counsel memos, ones action maybe protected and considered as "concerted activity."

  7. 1 Dana Mortimer 05 Mar
    The NLRB has issued several General Counsel memos very specifically addressing appropriate and prohibited employer policy language for social media.   If an employer is in a situation where they need to "dust off" an old personnel policy relating to disparagement of the company, they would be well-advised to review the NLRB memos prior to taking any employment action.  http://www.nlrb.gov/news-outreach/fact-sheets/nlrb-and-social-media

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