Last night 4 municipal employees in
The story has not reached the level of national news but it has certainly gotten plenty of attention in the New York Metro area. Most of the comments about the incident come under the description of, “What were they thinking?” After hearing the report my teenage son said, “They probably have the legal right to say those things as people but not as Police Officers. What kind of example are they setting?” OK, his mom is an HR professional who frequently comments about certain behaviors depicted in TV workplaces that should never be replicated in the real world.
When I read the first accounts, including the statements that the three might not be disciplined because it was off the job behavior, I couldn’t help wondering what kind of rules or handbook the town has in place. Long before email and social networking web sites I issued handbooks with specific restrictions about employee involvement in negative publicity or press about the company or employees. Today I add policies that prohibit cyberspace commentary that is disparaging to the Company, clients and/or which constitutes harassment of co-workers. In conversations about this incident I have heard about other, unpublicized, situations when private sector employees were fired for inappropriate online commentary.
What does your company policy say about online activity? Don’t wait until you are sent a link to something that makes you wonder, “What were they thinking?” to check your policy and make sure employees understand their responsibility.