Generation Y and the Role of Social Media in the Workplace


Have you, do you, or will you look at your employees social media profile? Maybe the better question is, will you admit that you have?  In today’s connected world in which Generation Y’s percentage of the workforce is increasing, the issue of your employees’ social media footprint, and what restrictions you as an employer can place on it, must be addressed.  

We were speaking to a group of business students last week and the issue of privacy came up in the discussion.  Many of the students in the audience were in the process of applying for jobs, asking for help to improve their resumes, and wondering what it was going to take to make themselves standout in the pool of applicants. One commonly overlooked area that kept coming up was social media. More specifically, they were curious how their social media footprint would impact their transition from college to career. 

When we were working in hospitality and were considering an applicant for an open position, did we seek some assistance from Google, Facebook, and Twitter?  Yes. Was it the most ethical thing to do? That’s up for debate. Does it happen often? Yes. 

The strategy going forward, from the applicant’s perspective, is simple. Make your profile private. If I, as the company, am going to invest financial resources in recruiting, selecting, training, and developing you, I want to make sure I’m getting the best possible candidate. By putting the highlights of your personal life on social media, you’re slowly, although indirectly, reducing the return on my investment. 

But what can the company do, or what should they be doing about this? This is a question that continues to be discussed by all levels of management. We know without question that snooping around an applicant or employees social media profile happens, albeit unofficially.  

With that being said, we encourage you to visit this issue within your own company. What is your organization’s policy on using social media in the hiring process? Do you have a policy? Can employees’ social media profiles have an impact on your business? Should an applicant or employee’s social media be involved in HR-decisions?

This is a topic that needs further research.  We are in the preliminary stages of a research study on social media and HR-decision making.  At the conclusion of this research, we hope to understand organizations’ policies for dealing with employees’ social media footprint. In addition, we want to quantify the impact, if any, the social media footprints of applicants and employees has on HR-decisions in the workplace.  

These two themes appear simple, but have dramatic ramifications for the future of how we manage Generation Y employees, a group that is slowly starting to become the most populace in the workforce.  As always, we look forward to conducting the research and disseminating the results to organizations so they can better address the needs of their internal customers. 

Drs. B & T

photo credit: ePublicist via photopin cc