Should HR 'embrace' social networking?

This is the matter contemplated by James Brockett of People Management magazine, or more specifically: "Websites such as Facebook are growing at a rapid rate. So should HR resist the revolution… or join it?

The article looks at contrasting case studies - i.e. companies that are "enthusiastically joining in" and companies that believe checking out potential and current employees is akin to "going into somebody’s house and searching through their cupboards”.

The article goes off at bit of a tangent - considering whether employees should be allowed to access social networking sites on work time (people have computers at home!) - but is certainly worth a read if you are a student of or practitioner in HRM.

Personally, I believe social networking sites should be ruled out for recruitment purposes unless the applicant either gives consent to its consideration, or actively draws the attention of employers to it.

Just because something is technically available does not necessarily mean publicness.

Even if you disagree with this point it would still be fair to say that researching cyberspace activity, like all social activity, should involve being courteous, civil, and respectful of the privacy and dignity of the people you are researching.

The article is called Face to face with social networking and should be available without subscription for around a month after the date on this post.

2 comments:

Laura said...

You say that social networking sites should not be searched, 'even if it is technically available.'

But surely you can only see someone's profile on Facebook if they let you? Is that what you mean by technically available?

Laura Marcus

James said...

Hi Laura,

I didn't go into the fact that Facebook profiles, for example, can be made private, etc.

What I meant by technically available is like comparing the ability to access social networking information in with billions of other web information is like saying, for instance, that is okay for employers to pry on any social interaction of potential or current employees that does not breach privacy laws.

In this case an employer could attain anecdotal information from overheard conversations, etc., but would it be fair to use it against an employee?

The internet is of course not exactly the same, as it is in one sense hard information (e.g. a picture or statement), but an employee is entitled to a degree of privacy and whatever is said on-line is still open to wide interpretation and such statements should still be able to be withdrawn later with little redress.