Social media blurring lines between personal and professional life

The lines between personal and professional life continue to get even more blurred as a result of the proliferation of social media. Two examples of the need for this dialogue have emerged recently.  The first was a conversation that I had at a party where someone asked me what she should do about her boss “friending” her on Facebook. In the same week, I got an email from an HR Director contact asking me if I knew anyone that could help them craft a social media policy for their company.

Like a teenager becoming an adult, it seems to be a bit of an awkward stage for social media as we stumble across lines of proper etiquette.  Also, as a result of the workplace becoming more global, the differences in cultural and social norms have created even more confusion.

Whether we like it or not, social media now has legitimate business applications and the user population has grown exponentially.  Yet, there are many legal and ethical issues that need to be addressed with regard to how social media is used.  For example, a recent Career Builder survey found that 44% of employers look up potential hires and incorporate the information into hiring decisions.  If it hasn’t occured already, it might be a good time to create an open dialogue in your company around how social media should be used and the issues and policies surrounding privacy, hiring, branding, culture, and employee performance.

So, here are some questions to get the conversation started:

1. How do you deal with the invasion of your personal life from the professional realm?
2. What can be done about social media’s influence on hiring decisions?
3. Should employers be liable for factoring inappropriate information with regard to hiring decisions?
4. What are some of the other issues that you have encountered with social media in your workplace?