Harvard recently rescinded admission offers for some incoming freshmen who participated in a private Facebook group sharing offensive memes. The incident has sparked a lot of discussion: Was Harvard’s decision justified? What about the First Amendment? Do young people know the dangers of social media?
I’m a business school lecturer, career services counselor and former recruiter, and I’ve seen how social media becomes part of a person’s brand – a brand that can help you or hurt you.
College admissions staff, future employers and even potential dates are more and more likely to check your profile and make decisions or judgments about you.
Here’s what you should know so you don’t end up like those Harvard prospects.
1. Social media posts disappear, right?
Let’s be clear about one thing: You’ve been building your online reputation since your first Snapchat. Think the posts disappear? Think private pages are private? Think again.
You might feel like your life and opinions are no one’s business, but you can’t always control who sees what you post. Every photo, video, tweet, like and comment could be screenshotted by your friends (or frenemies). You might make a mistake with your privacy settings or post to the wrong account. And a determined online sleuth can sometimes find ways around privacy settings, viewing photos and posts you might think are well hidden.
2. Do employers and colleges actually look at this stuff?
Your profile will very likely be scrutinised by college admissions officers and employers. According to CareerBuilder’s 2017 social media recruitment survey, social media screening is through the roof:
- 600% increase since 2006 in employers using social media to screen
- 70% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates
- 34% of employers found online content that caused them to reprimand or fire an employee
This trend is common with admissions as well. Kaplan Test Prep’s 2017 survey of over 350 college admissions officers found that 35 percent checked applicants’ social media profiles. Many who do said social media has influenced their admission decisions.
3. What are recruiters watching out for?
So what are the potential hazards to avoid? These are some of the types of posts that left a bad impression on me when I used to recruit:
- References to illegal drugs, sexual posts
- Incriminating or embarrassing photos or videos
- Profanity, defamatory or racist comments
- Politically charged attacks
- Spelling and grammar issues
- Complaining or bad-mouthing – what’s to say you wouldn’t do the same to a new school, company, boss, or peer?
4. What can I do to build a positive online reputation?
Remember, social media is not all bad; in many cases it helps recruiters get a good feel for your personality and potential fit. The CareerBuilder survey found 44 percent of employers who screened candidates via social networks found positive information that caused them to hire a candidate.
From my experience, the following information can support and confirm a candidate’s resume:
- Your education and experiences match the recruiter’s requirements
- Your profile picture and summary is professional
- Your personality and interests align with the values of the company or university
- Your involvement in community or social organizations shows character
- Positive, supportive comments, responses, or testimonials
5. How do I clean things up?
Research. Both the college of your dreams and your future employer could Google you, so you should do the same thing. Also check all of your social media profiles – even the ones you haven’t used for a while – and get rid of anything that could send the wrong message. Remember, things can’t be unseen.
Bottom line: Would you want a future boss, admissions officer, or blind date to read or see it? If not, don’t post it. If you already have, delete it.
By Thao Nelson; published on MSN.com
Employees intend on taking advantage of their sick leave to stay away from work when in truth they really just can’t face a day in the office.
Almost 40% of South Africans are planning on “pulling a sickie” in June or July, according to a survey released by Pharma Dynamics on Monday.
The generic pharmaceutical company polled 1 500 workers across the country to find out how people were gearing up for the colds and flu season. However, respondents also let slip the time of year they are most likely to ring in sick, said Pharma Dynamics.
Bad weather coupled with colds and flu
A combination of miserable weather and the expected spate of colds and flu in winter makes June and July the most popular months of the year to take a duvet day, said Pharma Dynamics spokesperson Nicole Jennings.
“Nearly a third of those polled admitted that they’ve pulled a sickie before – 45% of whom said they do so two to three times a year, while a few chancers (15% in fact) do so even more often. The 40% whose conscience probably gets the better of them, can only bring themselves to do so once annually.”
Jennings said what makes matters even worse is that those who pretend to be sick don’t do so on their own.
“More than a whopping 51% rope in their partners and/or children to take a duvet day with them – 20% either didn’t have a partner or a child, which implied that if they did, they’d probably get them to bunk with them too. The remaining 29% preferred to do so solo.”
The result of sickness-related absenteeism on the economy has been enormous, according to the most recently available Adcorp Holdings’ employment index.
Cumulatively, since 2000 the economy lost R55.2bn in real terms due to sickness, the report dated 2013 shows.
The index found that between 2009 and 2011, one-quarter of all workers claimed the maximum statutory allowance for sick leave, which is 36 days in a three-year cycle. It showed that the average output per worker in 2012 was R145 233 per year – or R586.19 per working day. In 2011 this loss of output due to sickness totalled R4.29bn
At the time Adcorp said it was alarming that sick leave in South Africa had been rising continuously.
More recently, South Africa was ranked last among 19 nations in a global survey that measured healthcare system efficiency – the ability to deliver maximum results at the lowest possible cost.
The Future Health Index, commissioned by Dutch tech company Philips, showed that South Africa’s efficiency ratio was the lowest out of the 19 countries in the study, which included countries such as France, the US, Argentina, United Arab Emirates, China and Brazil.
South Africa scored 4.4 compared to the group average of 10.5.
Employers constantly complain that labour law does not allow them to fire employees for breaking the rules. However, employers need to understand that:
• Labour law definitely does allow employers to dismiss employees.
• The CCMA has frequently upheld the dismissal of employees fired for misconduct. We have been directly involved in a great many cases where employees have been fired and, after appealing to the CCMA, have remained fired.
• It is not the firing of employees that the law has a problem with. Instead, it is unfair dismissals that result in the employer being forced to reinstate the employee and/or being forced to pay the employee exorbitant amounts of money in compensation.
• In order to be free to fire employees who deserve dismissal employers need to understand and accept the difference between fair and unfair dismissal. This is because, if the employer has an employee who is causing mayhem or is costing the employer money or is otherwise undesirable, the employer cannot afford for the employee to be reinstated. The reason for this is that it is exceptionally difficult later to dismiss or discipline an employee who has been reinstated by the CCMA or other tribunal.
So while the law does allow dismissals it also requires the employer to be able to prove that the dismissal was both procedurally and substantively fair.
“Procedurally fair” relates to whether the employee was given a fair hearing.
Whether a dismissal is “substantively fair” relates to the fairness of the dismissal decision itself rather than to the disciplinary procedures. Specifically the employer would have to show that:
• The employee really did break the rule
• The rule was a fair one
• The penalty of dismissal was a fitting one in the light of the severity of the offence. AND
• The employee knew or should have known the rule.
Properly trained CCMA arbitrators consider all the above factors together with the circumstances of each individual case in deciding if a dismissal was fair and whether the employee should stay dismissed or should be reinstated.
In the case of Mundell vs Caledon Casino, Hotel and Spa (Sunday Times 15 May 2005) the employee was dismissed for two reasons. Viz:
• She distributed a R15000 tip amongst her colleagues
• She allowed a colleague to take home five cans of cool drink
It was reported that:
• The rule requiring employees to hand in tips to management to go into a monthly kitty had not been given to Mundell
• Mundell had no way of knowing that she was not allowed to distribute the tip money herself
• The tip had been given by the client at an open gathering
• A number of managers were involved in sharing out the tip
• The cool drinks had been intended by the client for consumption by the staff
• Giving the cool drinks to the employee was not serious enough to merit dismissal
• The employer’s failure to prove that the employee knew of this rule rendered the dismissal unfair
• The employer was required to pay the employee six months remuneration in compensation.
The outcome of this case proves that the inability of employers to make dismissals stick is not primarily because of the law but rather because of the lack of labour law expertise of many employers.
By lvan lsraelstam, Chief Executive of Labour Law Management Consulting
If it’s not on social media it hasn’t happened; a common belief among avid social-media users. But not every memorable experience deserves an Instagram video – especially if it is of you dancing on the table at your staff party, or taking on that infuriating colleague who has been working on your nerves all year.
Social media practitioners and labour lawyers warn that the embarrassment of being immortalised online could be just the beginning of your troubles as companies continue to test the parameters of labour law in relation to social-media use.
According to labour lawyer Terry Bell, employees would be liable for damages if they defamed their company in any way.
“And disciplinary action can be undertaken based on company rules,” said Bell.
Employees might see staff functions as an opportunity to let their hair down but they should remember that companies are not likely to forgive those who damage corporate reputations.
“At Christmas parties employees sometimes let more than their hair down and they should be very careful about what they put on social media,” said Bell.
Recruitment specialist Auguste Coetzer of Taleng Africa said the tone should to be set by companies.
Coetzer said companies should take stock and establish the objectives of the party and whether it should take place at all, adding that awards ceremonies might create division.
“If broad recognition of team success is crucial, the firm will avoid the mistake of combining the occasion with a prize-giving for exceptional performers. You can’t celebrate everyone and reward a few stellar achievers at the same event,” he said.
Coetzer said companies should not be afraid to warn employees about company policy on social media.
Head of corporate and experiential events at Event Affairs Megan Mcilrath said it was important to thank employees for a great year and not leave social media education to the eve of an event.
“It’s important that companies entrench a social-media and general behaviour policy so that at any stage employees know what is and what isn’t allowed regarding social media,” said Mcilrath.
Social-media consultant Sheena Kretzmer said companies and employees should be prepared for the fallout of staff parties in a social-media age in which live video blogging is the norm.
By Shenaaz Jamal for www.timeslive.co.za
A recent survey of 12 000 office workers nationwide has revealed the most important things we demand from our workplaces.
The survey also uncovered the things we like best and hate most about the place where we spend a third of our lives.
Richard Andrews, MD of Inspiration Office, says the poll threw up some surprising findings.
“We asked people what was the most important thing for them in the workplace and 95% said access to good tea and coffee.
“This topped the list ahead of security (91%) and a healthy environment (87%) of what South African see as most important in the workplace.”
Rounding out the most important things was natural light (85%), greenery (71%), canteens (65%) and comfortable chairs (52%).
“Essentially it’s all the smaller things that people really need to be happy in the workplace,” says Andrews.
The poll also quizzed people on their biggest annoyances at the workplace.
Top of the list was loud colleagues, followed by colleagues who “smelled up the place” by eating lunch at the desk.
Third was ‘unbearable bosses.’
“It seems as many offices move to open plan design, the trend of squeezing more people into less space has brought workers in closer proximity to each other. There is nowhere to hide from other peoples’ habits.
“People talking loudly on the phone, endlessly talking to colleagues and making a general ruckus (88%) topped the list of the biggest peeve.
“This was followed closely by people who eat lunch at their desks thereby smelling up the workspace (76%).”
Andrews added that bad bosses (66%) was in third place particularly those that were hyper-critical and micro managers. Lack of privacy also featured with just over 50% citing that as an office downside.
Other strong office dislikes were dreary office spaces, long meetings, dress codes and working hours.
When asked about the best things about the workplace, the social aspect of meeting new people and becoming friends with certain colleagues was the best thing about the workplaces according to 80% of respondents.
Also favourable was the ‘learning and personal development’ that the workplaces offered (61%) and this was followed by ‘a place to make money’ at 49%.
Filling out the remaining office positives was ‘stimulation’, ‘sense of worth’ and ‘contribution to society.’
Andrews says that more businesses in South Africa were moving to address concerns such as those highlighted by the survey.
“Quiet spaces, places to make private calls and a trend towards more comfortable and relaxed spaces will improve the day to day office experience.”
One would think that if an employee is found to be under the influence of alcohol at work it is a straightforward dismissible offence. Recent case law has shown that this is not necessarily so.
Employers often operate under the mistaken belief that testing positive for alcohol equates to the employee being under the influence of alcohol.
Alcohol and drug abuse is a form of misconduct. Schedule 8 of the Code of Good Practice of the Labour Relations Act, No 66 of 1995 (LRA) recognises misconduct by an employee as a fair reason for dismissal.
There are two scenarios in which an employee may be charged for their use of alcohol at the workplace:
The first scenario is where the employee’s drunkenness can be proven by sight, smell and/or the conduct of the
employee. Factors showing drunkenness include aggressive behaviour from the employee, slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. The degree of drunkenness has to be to such an extent that it impairs the employee’s ability to work. The onus is on the employer to prove this. No expert witness is required for such purposes.
The second scenario is where an employee tests positive for alcohol on a breathalyser apparatus. A positive outcome does not necessarily prove that the employee is under the influence of alcohol or that the employee’s ability to work has been impaired. Employers often mistakenly believe that a positive test result is sufficient proof to show that the employee was under the influence of alcohol and then mistakenly charge the employee for being under the influence of alcohol. Recent case law has confirmed that a positive test result is not necessarily sufficient to dismiss an employee. In Tosca Labs v CCMA 2012 33 ILJ 1738 (LC) the Labour Court found that a positive test result on a breathalyser test is not sufficient proof to indicate that the employee was under the influence of alcohol. The court referred to Tanker Services (Pty) Ltd v Magudulela 1997 12 BLLR 1552 (LAC) which stated that the real test is whether the employee’s competence to perform their work has been impaired. In this case the employee was able to perform his tasks and the court held that the dismissal was substantively unfair.
What should an employer do?
• The employer should adopt a zero tolerance in terms of its alcohol policy in the workplace. Such policy should be specific and also provide for a summary dismissal, even when the employee has just been tested positive for the use of alcohol or drugs. The rational for such policy should be based on the safety considerations of the employer. This means that an employee may be summarily dismissed irrespective of whether his/her ability to work is impaired or not. To adopt such a policy depends on the status thereof and may sometimes simply require consulting with the employees before the implementation of such policy. The employer should always ensure that all employees are aware that there is a zero tolerance policy and that if they test positive for any usage of alcohol, they will be in breach of the policy and may be subjected to disciplinary action and possible dismissal.
• In addition to the above, the breathalyser apparatus should be properly calibrated and the person administering the test should be trained to do so correctly. The test should also always be done in the presence of a witness.
• However where possible and applicable, evidence should preferably be obtained to show that the employee’s ability to work was impaired – if that was indeed the case.
• If it emerges that an employee is dependent on alcohol the employer has an obligation to consider providing counselling and assist the employee as is set out in item 10 of Schedule 8 of the LRA.
Highly-engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their companies than their disengaged counterparts, according to research conducted by Officevibe, a Canadian based organisation which provides methods to measure employee satisfaction and tips.
The research also found that companies with engaged employees typically experience 2.5 times more revenue than competitors with low engagement levels. These statistics show that creating a workforce that engages with its employees to ensure they are in sync with the organisational culture is becoming increasingly important, to not only retain staff but to ensure a healthy work environment.
This is according to Marieta Groeneveld, consulting psychometrist at Work Dynamics – a leading HR consultancy in the country, who says that the first and most important step is to establish an identifiable organisational culture. “It is crucial for businesses to have an organisational culture in place that supports the company’s objectives and enables its employees to deliver on the organisational goals. In addition to this, organisational culture can be a key source of competitive advantage and must be maintained and managed effectively.”
She adds that a good tool to use when determining the culture of an organisation is the Organisational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI), based on the Competing Values Framework of Cameron and Quinn. “This assessment is used to indicate the current and preferred culture along four culture types, namely Clan (people focused), Adhocracy (entrepreneurial), Market (competitive) and the Hierarchy (process driven). Then through workshops the underlying values are identified.”
There are various ways in which an organisation can measure whether employees and prospective employees fit their culture, says Groeneveld. “One of the most widely used methods involves workshops and culture surveys to determine a broad and efficient examination of prospective employees.”
The next step involves recruiters and interviewers, as they need to understand how the culture fit, or rather culture misfit, translates into the screening questions, explains Groeneveld. “These screening questions help to screen out, for example, individuals who are too aggressive, rude and individualistic when the dominant culture is a clan culture and requires collaboration, respect and teamwork, regardless of their expertise. The culture fit of a person is then determined by calculating the correlation between the profiles of the organisations values with the profile of the individual’s preferences.”
Groeneveld warns that the situation needs to be approached with some caution because culture fit procedures should not instantly restrict entry for people with oppositional values. “This could result in insufficient diversity in an attempt to maintain the current culture. Carefully examining the current versus desired culture as measured by the OCAI provides invaluable insights.”
“It is therefore advisable for organisations to partner with an independent service provider who can objectively judge the suitability of a potential candidate and who can identify the need for organisational culture to be re-evaluated,” concludes Groeneveld. In order to build a resilient organisational culture, businesses must not only hire employees based on stability, but must focus specifically on adaptability. Additionally, it is important to hire a diverse group of people. If everyone in the organisation thinks the same, there is little room for innovation. On the other hand, if the organisation only hires innovators, who would bring stability and act as the voice of reason?”
A healthy employee is a fulfilled employee, and a content employee is a productive employee. Establishing and growing a forward-thinking, modern workforce involves not only nurturing intellectual ability, but taking care of the holistic well-being of your employees too.
Access to structured learning in the workplace and workplace mentors can increase employability of graduates. It plays a crucial role in the career success of job seekers and can boost economic progress, especially in a developing country such as South Africa.