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Why Do You Care What I Do Outside of Work?

Does employee conduct outside of work really matter? YES! Many employees don’t realize that even though they are off the clock, how they behave outside of work can impact their employment.

Possibly the most notorious of workplace social scenarios that can result in questionable employee behaviour is the company Christmas party. Whether it’s to recognize employees or to celebrate the end of a successful year, company parties are a host of concerns for employers. Discussed at length over the past decade, alcohol consumption and the company soiree often creates issues. Thankfully, more companies are addressing this concern by eliminating open bars and placing consumption caps to help prevent employees and their guests from enjoying a few too many libations. At this point, it should be common sense that consuming alcohol releases your inhibitions and can result in behaviour that is not only less than professional, but down right inappropriate. Flirting with the boss’s wife, slurring your words or tearing your shirt off while table dancing are all considered no-no’s (I hope that was obvious!). While this behaviour typically occurred at parties of the past, there are still lots of people who think this is the time to show off and let your hair down with the people you are usually a little more on the serious side with. It’s important that employees understand what the expectations are around behaviour at company functions.

What has gotten more attention over the past decade is the conduct of employees with social media accounts. Many employees still believe that what they do on their own time and on social media platforms is their own business. And if the employer doesn’t have a clear policy that outlines social media expectations, why shouldn’t they… oh ya, common sense again. There are two main areas of concern when it comes to social media use. First, employees using the platform to complain, harass or bully someone related to their workplace, be it an employee or a customer. This type of misconduct obviously has a direct link to the workplace, regardless if it was posted outside of work hours. The second concern is when employees make public statements or show behaviours that even though are not about or directed towards the workplace, still may have a negative impact on the business. This is more of a ‘guilty by association’, scenario. For example, an employee makes discriminatory remarks about a group of people on Facebook. Fellow employees and a few customers are Facebook friends with the employee and see the post. Even though the remarks were not about the workplace directly, they may still prove to be damaging as the employer may choose to take action.

People often forget that what they post on social media is there forever! That means that future employers, customers, and co-workers are going to social media to creep you at some point; we have all done it.

The lesson that we should avoid learning the hard way is to be professional and mature in all of our dealings at work, in our personal lives and definitely on social media. Employee conduct does not only apply when you are on the clock. Everywhere you go and everything you do reflects your character.

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