HR Strange But True!
September 01, 2009

If an employee is thinking about making a "friend" request to their boss on Facebook, or a boss is thinking of doing the same to an employee, they should probably read the results of this recent survey first.

For those unfamiliar with Facebook, accepting someone as a “friend” on the social networking site typically allows that person to keep tabs on you by reading your Facebook page, leaving comments (and reading others' comments), viewing your photos, and following other updates.

Forty-eight percent of bosses say they would feel either very or somewhat uncomfortable if someone they managed wanted to be their friend on the social networking site, according to a survey by OfficeTeam. About the same portion of respondents said they'd feel just as uncomfortable if their boss asked to be their friends on Facebook.

Still, that leaves a sizeable portion of bosses who would feel comfortable with being “friended” by a subordinate (44 percent) or their superior (47 percent).

The survey included 150 randomly selected senior executives at the nation's 1,000 largest companies.

“The line between personal and professional has grown increasingly blurred as more people use social networking websites for business purposes,” said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. “Although not everyone is comfortable using sites like Facebook to connect with professional contacts, it's wise to be prepared for these types of requests.”

Hosking advises employees on Facebook to familiarize themselves with privacy settings and create different friend lists to control how--and with whom--information is shared. “Individuals should classify their professional contacts into a ‘work' list and limit what personal details this group can view,” said Hosking.  

Hosking also has advice for employees if they encounter one the following Facebook situations:

  • You're tagged in an embarrassing photo. Untag yourself and change your privacy settings so photos are viewable only by your close friends.
  • You're friended by someone you don't want to connect with. It might be best to accept friend requests from colleagues to avoid slighting them, but add them to a “work” list and adjust your privacy settings so you can effectively separate your job from your personal life.
  • You're considering friending your boss. It may seem like a natural extension of amiable office small talk, but think twice before proactively friending your boss. It could become awkward for both of you.  
  • You want to join various groups. You should join groups that interest you. But if you have colleagues in your network and don't want them to see the groups you join, remember to adjust your application settings.
  • You would like to be a fan of certain pages. Becoming a fan of pages on Facebook is visible to anyone who can view your profile, so you should avoid becoming a fan of any page you are uncomfortable sharing with coworkers or business contacts in your network.
  • You love quizzes. Stop and think for a moment before taking online quizzes and posting the results to your Facebook page -- unless you want professional contacts to know which Gilligan's Island character you most resemble.

Source: OfficeTeam

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