Freelancers shaming companies that haven’t paid is one example but Online venting isn’t in the purview of employees alone.
In a time when brand presence on social media is of crucial importance, social media platforms are quickly becoming battlegrounds for professional disputes between employees and employers to be aired and fought out.
With social media, you can always have your ear to the ground because people talk about their personal and professional lives with abandon. If you’re in the know about that trip to Europe, chances are that you’re also in the know about the garrulous boss, the flatulent colleague and the sorry state of the office’s coffee vending machine.
But sometimes the concerns are far graver as people no longer think twice before airing workplace-related complaints or tiffs on social media. Freelancers shaming companies that haven’t paid them on networking groups on Facebook is just one example of this trend.
Online venting isn’t in the purview of employees alone, as a recent post on Twitter pointed out. The post, which was shared by industrialist Harsh Goenka, was a screenshot of a LinkedIn message that had the Co-Founder and COO of a company call out a high-ranking job applicant for not showing up after being offered a job by his company.
While Goenka lauded the move and justified his opinion in a follow-up tweet, saying, “I do believe a person should honour a contract. If he is not going to, then at least professional courtesy is to explain or apologise to the company. Not answering, and this is happening too many times, is just not right,” there were those who felt that shaming the candidate on LinkedIn was unethical, to say the least.
Things got ugly for Amazon too, when in an August 2nd Twitter post the company invited people to take a tour of Amazon fulfilment centres. On the post, ex-employees called out the company for the gruelling working conditions in its warehouses, while several of these comments were shot down by FC (Fulfilment Centre) Ambassadors — reportedly appointed by Amazon — that showered praise on the company. The company now finds itself in hot water as Twitter users are accusing it of using fake ‘Ambassadors’ to fight off critical accounts shared by employees.
In a time when brand presence on social media is of crucial importance, and almost every employee and employer has access to social media, social media platforms are quickly becoming battlegrounds for professional disputes to be fought out. Mumbai-based Maitreyi Bhatia, who takes on freelance projects in the art and design space feels that this is happening because people are quick to jump the gun when posting on social media.
“Nowadays, a lot of people take things to social media without even trying to resolve it in person; it gives them a power trip. I’m not in favour of the call-out culture as one should try to sort things out via personal communication. Companies shouldn’t indulge in this behaviour at all as I, personally, wouldn’t respect a company that calls out employees on social media,” she says.
This view is echoed by image consultant, Chhaya Momaya, who says that online shaming can give both, the employee and the employer, a bad rep.
“It speaks a lot about a person’s etiquette, behaviour, education and upbringing. Not only do people form opinions about a person doing the shaming, they also form opinions about the person being shamed. So, it’s counter-productive for both parties,” she says.
Hitesh Rajwani, CEO of Social Samosa, maintains that while an employer calling out errant employees on social media isn’t ideal, he does see how online shaming by employees could sometimes have positive consequences. “If things have gone completely out of hand, social media can be quite effective in sorting out conflicts, because the minute you shame someone so publicly, they start looking for solutions. But it should be your last resort,” he says.
He also sees brands leveraging social media to counter flak as an established and positive move. “Social media helps you humanise your brand, that’s why brands leveraging personal profiles of employees to build positive brand image is standard practice. These could be simple gestures, right from checking in to the office to defending the organisation whenever there is a debate or crises happening in the online space. There’s nothing grey about it unless it’s forced on the employees. The choice should lie with the employee,” he concludes.