Social Media Challenges in the Workplace – CIRA panel discussion

November 24, 2011
CIRA Dinner Calgary

(Left to Right) John Moreau, Tom Hesse, Sarah Eaton and Andy Robertson debating social media challenges in the workplace

Tonight I took place on a panel discussion in Calgary on the issue of social media challenges in Calgary. The dinner event was hosted by the Southern Alberta chapter of the Canadian Industrial Relations Association (CIRA), and organized by Dr. Kelly Williams-Whitt, who is a professor of Labour Relations at the University of Lethbridge (Calgary Campus) and serves in a leadership role with CIRA.

My fellow panelists were:

  • Andy Robertson, Partner, Macleod Dixon LLP
  • Tom Hesse, United Food and Commercial Workers Canada (UFCW) 401
  • John Moreau, Arbitrator

Dr. Whitt presented us with three Canadian labour cases including:

  1. A female employed in the health care sector who posted photos of patients without their permission on her blog, discussing their conditions and making disparaging remarks about her fellow employees, her workplace and her bosses. (She was later dismissed from her job.)
  2. A male employee with documented mental health issues who blogged about his Neo-Nazi beliefs, his hatred of certain racial groups, the desecration of animal remains that he took part in, the anti-depressants he was on and other assorted topics. He mentioned the name of his employer in his blog. (He was suspended from work and then reinstated.)
  3. A male employee who circulated pornography to his co-workers and was later found to have over 3000 pornographic images and some porn videos in his work e-mail account. (He was suspended from work and then reinstated).

Each panelist gave commentary on the cases, based on their respective experience. My point of view was mainly “pro” social media. My main arguments were:

  • Most companies do not train their employees adequately on how to use social media effectively and responsibly.
  • Organizations need to make their expectations about online behaviour very clear to employees.
  • Everyone who engages in social media leaves a “digital footprint”. Employees and employers need to be aware of what this is and what it can mean over the long term.
  • Digital citizenship is in an important skills to learn in the 21st century.
  • Online reputation management is becoming more important for both employees and employers.

Here’s a clip of my commentary:

It was a lively and invigorating discussion that touched on topics such as personal freedoms, organizational control, common sense and personal responsibility. My fellow panelists were articulate, well-informed and thoughtful in their responses. Being neither a lawyer, nor a union voice, I was honoured to take part in the discussion.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


30% of people under 30 say “social media freedom” more important than salary

November 20, 2011

While employers are struggling to crack down on employees’ social media behaviour, young professionals are saying “Don’t bother trying. We won’t be controlled”.

In a story called “Great Tech Expectations“, The Province reports some startling statistics about the Millennial generation (those under 30). The article draws on research presented in the 2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report. The research surveyed 2800 students across 14 countries, all under the age of 30. The findings revealed that:

The study, which surveyed 2,800 college students and young professionals in 14 countries, found:

  • 56%of college students “said that if they encountered a company that banned access to social media, they would either not accept a job offer or would join and find a way to circumvent corporate policy.”
  • 1 in 3 respondents younger than 30 said social-media freedom and workplace mobility were more important than salary.
  • A quarter of college students said a prospective employer’s policy on social media usage would affect their decision in accepting or declining the job.
  • In India and China, more than 80% of respondents said their primary work device should be mobile.
  • More than 70% of college students said they didn’t want to differentiate between “personal” and work-related devices – “company-issued devices should be allowed for personal and business use because of the daily blending of work and personal communications.”
  • 70%  also say they want to be out of the office regularly, working remotely.

Read the whole article.

While employers are fighting to control what employees are doing on line, employees are fighting for their online freedom. This is especially true in education, where school boards argue that teachers are role models for children and often impose strict social media guidelines. It also applies to other industries where companies and non-profit organizations are desperately trying to figure what to do — and they want to do it quickly.

If you’re in Calgary, join me at an event hosted by the Canadian Industrial Relations Association this coming Thursday. I’ll be on a panel of experts debating with a lawyer and an arbitrator about how to deal with social media challenges at work.

How do you feel about employees using social media? Or employers trying to control your use of social media?

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Social Media Challenges at Work (CIRA Event)

November 10, 2011

If you’re in Calgary, join me on November 24 at the Village Park Inn for a dinner event hosted by the Southern Alberta Chapter of the Canadian Industrial Relations Association (CIRA):

“Social Media Challenges at Work”

Expert panelists: Sarah Eaton, John Moreau, Andy Robertson and Tom Hesse

An employee uses Facebook to malign her employer and harass co-workers. A manager regularly patrols the internet, “Googling” employees and monitoring their email. Where does the line get drawn between off-duty conduct, privacy, and the employer’s liability for the actions of its employees? What factors do adjudicators consider when analyzing social media cases? How can employers, unions and workers best protect themselves? Our panel of experts will address these and other thorny issues surrounding social media at work.

Join us for an enlightening conversation with Dr. Sarah Eaton, social media researcher and consultant; Arbitrator John Moreau; Andy Robertson, Partner, Macleod Dixon; and Tom Hesse, UFCW Negotiator and Executive Assistant to the President.

Cost: $40 for Non-CIRA members, $30 for members

To get your ticket, contact CIRA:

CIRA SOUTHERN ALBERTA CHAPTER

University of Lethbridge, Calgary Campus

Suite 1100 Rocky Mountain Plaza,

615 Macleod Trail SE, Calgary, Alberta T2G 4T8

Telephone: 571-3360 ext 4693 Fax: 403-261-2944

E-Mail: cira.alberta @ uleth.ca

View this document on Scribd

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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