Having the world ‘at your fingertips’ can be hazardous to your job

The advent of the smart phone and its easy access to everything from personal text messages to vast social networks like facebook or Myspace has given employers just one more way to collect evidence against you.

Imagine this scenario: you receive an off-color joke from a friend via text message on your phone, you find it so funny that you post it on your facebook page to share with your friends.

The next thing you know, your buddy (remember the one who sent the joke) is called into his bosses office and told to vacate the premises. It turns out that his boss—who got the joke sent to his email inbox within an hour of your posting—isn’t as much a humorist as you are.

The fact is that when you send a text message you have the expectation that it will be private. “Back in the day” when people had verbal conversations, your communication was unlikely to travel beyond your group of friends. Now, with technology and social media at our fingertips, these conversations are no longer private. These conversations can get emotional, threatening, flirtatious and even sexual in nature. There is nothing private about a text!

Because text messages are in writing and can be reproduced and disseminated in record time today, it is essential for members to practice greater discretion than ever before.

People share very private information with their friends using social media. You may think that this group of friends can be trusted to keep your information private, but these same friends can easily share this information with your enemies.

An inappropriate text can be forwarded to management or transcribed and later used against you. The weekend that you called in sick, but really went to Vegas with your friends, gets posted along with the damaging pictures on your web page. A video of horseplay at work is posted on You Tube for the entire world to see, including management and Human Resources. Members always seem surprised and shocked to see their own postings used against them in a grievance meeting.

Employers have begun to crack down on the use of cell phones during working hours. There has been an increase of discipline including suspensions for the use of cell phones on the job.

Some consider the practice of answering a phone call while on the clock to be a form of theft. You should leave your phone in a locker or your car in order to avoid the temptation of using it on company time. This out of sight and out of mind tactic could save your job in the future.