Australian Sky News host Chris Smith found himself in hot water recently after allegations of “inappropriate conduct” at the office Christmas party. Now suspended from his roles at Sky and 2GB pending an investigation, Mr Smith may find it difficult to claw his reputation back. Office Christmas parties can be a minefield for bad behaviour exacerbated by copious alcohol and a lack of inhibition. And the temptation to upload pictures of anything and everything onto social media can also lead to reputational damage.
Take care with your social media accounts
While most people, of course, will not conduct themselves badly just because they’re at an office party, we do have some evidence to show that Christmas parties are a flashpoint. Igniyte’s survey of 1,000 UK-based workers shows that 20% of employees have been somehow involved in a fight at a Christmas Party and 11% admit that either they or a colleague had been fired or suspended for misconduct at the festivities.
One in five said that their personal reputation was negatively impacted by what they got up to, with 4% copping formal HR disciplinary action afterwards. These figures are telling, but we also need to factor in the addition of social media to the mix.
Poor behaviour that may have stayed behind closed doors – and therefore would not adversely impact the company’s reputation – is likely to be splashed all over Facebook or Snapchat today.
Why your social media posts matter
It’s pretty much accepted these days that whatever you write or post online is there forever. Should something you post go viral or catch a brief zeitgeist, it won’t matter even if you delete the original post. The Internet is forever.
And there is a clear link between your reputation and the company you work for. Personal social media accounts may be meant for a few people, but, anything you post could be shared by other people.
There are countless examples of celebrities and those in the public eye being thrown off major social media platforms over the last few years. From Donald Trump to Kanye West, social media clampdowns have real-world repercussions.
But what about everyday people and a few photos of the Christmas party – surely that won’t matter, right? Well, the reality is, anything that you post will reflect on you and the company you work for, in a good way or a bad way.
Companies do not want to be linked with their employees in a negative way. It’s not just your current job either – be aware that recruiters routinely scan social media for your posts when you apply for a job.
Lock your social media down
Everyone – whether employed or not – should by now understand the importance of locking your social media accounts down. They all have privacy settings, and our advice would be to curate your feeds so that anything you post is only ever shared with close family and select friends.
Ensuring your social media doesn’t reflect negatively on you or your employer isn’t just about the photos you share, it’s also about whom you interact with. Basically, treat your social media as if your grandma and your employer are watching everything you post.
Below we’ve listed several social media posts to avoid ensuring your reputation stays intact on and offline.
4 tips to maintain a positive social media reputation
Don’t post any drunken photos or personal content
This is where we’d advise keeping Christmas party photos to a minimum – and any other occasion where you’re clearly out and about. This is one for potential employers. Remember that they absolutely will check Facebook, Twitter, and other major socials when you apply to work for them.
If all they come across is a tonne of dodgy-looking drunken escapades or a link to your OnlyFans, then this could be an issue. For example, when Samantha Peer’s students found her OnlyFans account, she lost her job teaching science.
Personal content can also backfire if potential or current employers are trawling online looking for people they consider to be skiving. If you need a day off because you’re sick but there are photos of you from the night before, that could impact your reputation.
Don’t slate your management or employer
While this sounds incredibly obvious, you may be surprised how many people forget when they want to sound off on Twitter. Never ever post about colleagues, your boss, their boss or the company or brand you work for, even if it’s meant as a light hearted joke.
However well intentioned your posts, the company in question is unlikely to see it that way. It’s not just negative commentary, this could cover posting pictures of anything ‘behind the scenes’ at your company. Unless you are purposefully whistleblowing, you can expect to be fired or disciplined for any of the above.
Don’t get lost in your ‘hot takes’
Again, this may seem obvious, but perhaps less so than point 2. Posting your hot take on the burning issue of the moment is what social media is for. But you need to be careful about linking your named social media accounts to any opinions that could be considered contentious.
This goes for Tweeting or posting support for any big name that has been cancelled. Let’s say you’re a big Kanye West fan (for his music) and steadfastly support him vocally online no matter what, how’s that going to look to others? They will see his antisemitic views and assume you also support those.
Pick your platform carefully
If you want to take politics, stick to your locked-down Facebook feed. If only a few people can see your comments, it’s unlikely to cause you any reputational issues. Don’t, for example, get too personal with your opinions on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn has evolved into a busy platform for personal views and postings. It’s become extremely common for people at all levels to share their innermost thoughts on everything from their own job, the state of the market, Elon Musk and more.
Of course, it’s not a problem to have an online personality – in fact, we’d encourage it – it just must be controlled and curated to give the best possible impression of you.
Always keep LinkedIn posts super professional, ideally short, and friendly. Keeping away from politics and sharing your philosophy of life and personal information is your best bet. On LinkedIn particularly, you want to garner a reputation for professional credibility, rather than off-beat discourse.