In the comments of a number of different blog posts, I’ve been discussing the pros and cons of social media and HR in terms of googling candidates or employees, the ethics of using any of this info for decision making, and whether a policy is necessary. As I’ve said, the subject of social media and human resources is creating far more questions than answers and I typically comment with opinions on specific examples.
Yesterday I was asked pointblank on Twitter (thank you, Chris!) what I think of using social media monitoring services such as this one.
Now I am a pretty opinionated person and typically have no issue communicating exactly what I think. I’m not a waffler. I do not find decision making difficult or stressful. I don’t hem and haw. I am annoyingly over analytical, logical, and I love when people ask my opinion. Just ask my friends. But when it comes to this topic, I am in a foreign land.
I provided some kind of non-committal answer about waiting to see what happened in the next couple years before I would endorse the use of this type of product.
My own answer annoyed me and then I drove myself crazy thinking about it and trying to take a stand. (I like concrete answers.) But the more I thought about it the more I flip-flopped back and forth. Yes. Wait…no.
Why am I so indecisive about this? And am I the only one who is struggling with this topic? Is this another example of cognitive dissonance?
The only conclusion I can draw is that from a business perspective I think it makes sense to use these tools. People should be responsible for the information they choose to distribute in cyberspace. If you put something crazy out there, you have GOT to know someone’s going to read it. If it affects your career in some way, well, you really should have thought about that and used better judgment. It doesn’t seem like some complex, mathematical equation is necessary to determine what might be offensive to a current or future employer. And each individual is responsible (for the most part) for their own online reputation. It reminds me of a question I answered a while back about whether I share 100% of my real self at work. My reply was that I may not share 100% of myself, but what I do share is 100% genuine.
That being said, from a humanistic perspective, I have an issue with it. The idea of Big Brother watching every move we make and then using this information to decide what kind of character we have, what liability we pose to an organization, and to predict decisions we will make in the future really bothers me. If we do our job well right now, everything else should be irrelevant. And how can anyone guarantee the information is in the proper context? For example, am I going to lose out on future opportunities because of this post? If a company were to data mine my info will they report that I’m against data mining, I must have something to hide and then classify me as an employment risk?
In addition, the thought that Human Resources can be held accountable for employees’ future actions does not sit well with me. This is HR’s crystal ball??? If you could use this info to predict behavior that accurately, shouldn’t this monitoring sometimes result in an employee being promoted to President 3 weeks into a new job? Or being given a $20,000 raise because Human Resources now knows that this employee is going to end up earning that in the future? I haven’t participated in any discussions about that.
So I still find myself unable to answer the question of whether to use these types of services or not.