Social Media in the Workplace: Much Ado about Nothing?

Reflections on social media, fashion and freebies from the SHRM 2012 conference

Posted by Dawn Lomer in on June 28th, 2012

Calm down, everyone. Take a deep breath and think about the consequences before you react to the tweet your employee just sent criticizing you and your company. That’s the message I got from the HR practitioners I interviewed at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2012 conference this week, when I asked them about risks of social media in the workplace.

Just Let It Go

It’s much less difficult than everyone seems to think, says Joan Ginsberg, HR consultant, blogger and social media trainer (along with about a dozen other things, including lawyer and former police officer). I had the pleasure of interviewing Joan and getting her ideas on how employers should handle social media issues in the workplace.

Employment attorney and writer Heather Bussing expressed a similar view, saying that an employer’s focus on a negative tweet or Facebook update often does more damage than the post or tweet would have, had it been ignored. “Sometimes,” she said, “you should just let it go.” She recommends social media training for managers as one way to reduce the risk of reactions that are worse than the original offense.

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Social media expert, blogger and HR professional, Jessica Miller-Merrell, thinks of social media as more of a tool than a risk. My conversation with her focused more on how employers can leverage social media to build a happy, productive workforce, than reducing risk. She sees social media as a necessary part of encouraging employees to blend work with life, rather than balancing one against the other (my words, but that’s the gist of what she said).

Investigation Advice

Allison West, an employment attorney, investigator and trainer, talked to me about some mistakes, obvious and not-so-obvious, that investigators make in workplace misconduct investigations. Expect to see a lot on this topic on the blog, as she gave some really solid advice in both her interview with me and in her session on bulletproof documentation.

Social Media Buzz and Blurr

In the meantime, the web was abuzz with SHRM tweets, updates, shares and videos on a variety of social media platforms. This was definitely a tech-savvy crowd, as my co-worker Lindsay commented, judging by the steady stream of #SHRM12 Tweets inundating her feed back at the office.

Another notable element at the conference was the proliferation of flip-flops. The event was identified as “business casual” and we were encouraged to wear comfortable shoes for ease of covering the massive exhibition hall, but some people took the casual part of business casual to a new level. Shorts and flip-flops weren’t uncommon. Maybe it’s all part of this social media influence, blurring the line between personal and professional. Or maybe it was just hot in Atlanta.

And for the many attendees who walked the exhibition floor laden down with bags of (dare I say it?) useless swag, comfortable shoes were a must when schlepping all that stuff back to their hotel rooms.


Dawn Lomer
Dawn Lomer

Managing Editor

Dawn Lomer is the managing editor at i-Sight Software and a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). She writes about topics related to workplace investigations, ethics and compliance, data security and e-discovery, and hosts i-Sight webinars.