Social networking websites like Facebook enable people to communicate easily with friends, family and colleagues. They can also document feelings of anger and resentment with work.
The following screenshot reveals a conversation between some Facebook friends. Names have been hidden and photos changed to protect the identify of those involved:
The discussion starts with a proposal for a night out on the town on October 9th. It ends when one participant notes that he cannot commit to anything without checking his work schedule, which apparently his supervisors have yet to announce as of October 1st. That’s a pretty quick turnaround, even if the schedule is out the next day.
It’s always difficult to know what is actually happening based on limited information, but any number of factors could be at play. Perhaps the schedule has already been defined, but there has been a delay in publication. Perhaps a sudden change in personnel or availability has caused the posted schedule to be revoked. The sarcastic tone of the final comment, however, implies this is a recurring problem. The employee is neither surprised nor sympathetic. He’s simply frustrated that he can’t make plans for Friday night a week in advance.
Plenty of organizations institute social media policies saying what their employees are allowed to post when it comes to work. That is not the point of this blog post. Rather, we believe that if people are posting their complaints on social media, then things are far beyond a level where policies can be effective. In the situation the employee above has a valid point. He should know his schedule to know if he can make plans in a week. However, that hasn’t happened. Now it’s very likely that the employee hasn’t gone to his employer to express his frustration with this on-going situation. There’s a chance this could be because the employee is unwilling to communicate. But it’s much more likely that the employer hasn’t fostered a work environment where employees feel comfortable in voicing their opinions.
If you don’t feel like your opinion will be valued, or worse, will cause you to face negative repercussions, then of course you aren’t going to go to your boss with a complaint. But that doesn’t mean the complaint is going to go away. Rather, it’s just going to simmer under the surface until work performance declines or the employee heads off to greener pastures. If you’re in charge of your organization, you need to make sure that you’re going to create a situation where any complaints are brought to you before they’re taken to a Facebook comment thread. Not from the sense of keeping the complaints quiet, but rather from the sense of working to empower your stakeholders, from top to bottom.
Organizations need to hear these kinds of comments from stakeholders. Individuals should be empowered to discuss opportunities to improve satisfaction and productivity, and to actually implement positive changes to their work environment. For more information, contact our business improvement consultants here at AccelaWork. We love to help companies improve employee communication and overall effectiveness.