An interesting story in HR Zone caught my eye this week. It’s not specifically about bullying – but it’s worth a blog post nonetheless.
A US graduate left New York University with a job offer from a paper in Delaware. Delighted, he shared his good news on his Tumblr blog. He quoted from the letter and included the company logo.
As a result, his job offer was rescinded.
Naturally, his potential employer dished up as many reasons as they could to explain their decision. They said the use of the logo was illegal and to quote from their letter was inappropriate. Despite the graduate offering to remove the blog, they refused to honour the offer.
Of course, we all know what really happened. The paper’s management played the ‘Will he blog about that?’ game. Since the graduate was happy to share news publicly, their thinking probably went as follows:
What if he starts work and doesn’t like us? Will he blog about that?
What if he fails to get through probation? Will he blog about that?
What if he’s not happy with the work we give him? Will he blog about that?
What happens if he sees something he doesn’t like? Will he blog about that?
People who write honestly are often treated as though they’re patently dishonest – even when, in this case, nothing bad was said. The graduate was simply expressing his happiness over the new job. But it’s the unknown quantity. His employers can’t know what he’s going to say next. They won’t have any control about what he publishes.
Employers do like to believe that their own PR and marketing is absorbed into employees’ minds and that we won’t offer an opinion, either good or bad, without asking what the party line is first.
The threat perceived by employers when faced with an employee’s enthusiasm for publishing anything about them on social media is an important lesson. It’s good to remind them that they don’t have as much control as they’d like to imagine over the voices of their employees.
Quite right too!