Social media is a popular place for networking, but lowering the barriers between our professional and personal lives can be a gamble. According to recent findings from digital security company All About Cookies, a sizable portion of working Americans are no longer comfortable being connected with their coworkers online.
The study, which surveyed Americans about their social media habits and what effects their online habits have on their relationships at work, found that a third (33 percent) said they prefer not to interact with coworkers on social media in any form whatsoever.
There are a number of reasons why employees choose not to befriend colleagues online. Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) said they want to keep their professional and personal lives separate. More than a quarter (28 percent) said they don’t want coworkers to know details about their personal lives and 18 percent said they likewise don’t want to know about their coworkers’ personal lives. 15 percent said they don’t want to find themselves in a position where they’re censoring what they say online and eight percent said they don’t want their coworkers to see what they post about their job.
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As it turns out, people have good reason to limit what they say online—especially when it comes to what they say about their work lives. Nearly half of those surveyed who identified themselves as managers (44 percent) said they’ve checked out a potential hire’s social media activity when making a hiring decision. More than a quarter of employees (27 percent) said they’ve seen a coworker post negatively about their workplace, and 25 percent said they’ve seen something on social media that lowered their opinion of a coworker. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) reported that they know of a coworker who got in trouble (either in the form of a talking-to by a supervisor or write-up from HR) for something they posted on social media and 10 percent said they’ve seen someone get fired for something they’d posted on social media.
About one in five (20 percent) said they’ve often felt pressured to connect with coworkers on social media. This sentiment was particularly prevalent among members of the Gen Z generation (34 percent), followed by Millennials (20 percent) and Gen Xers (12 percent). Only nine percent of Baby Boomers reported being pressured to follow colleagues online.
Most of those polled (50 percent) said they have a better relationship with coworkers they follow on social media compared with those they don’t follow. Almost the same number (44 percent) said following a coworker online hasn’t changed their relationship at all. Only six percent of respondents said they think they have a worse relationship with coworkers they follow on social media compared with those they don’t follow.
When people do connect with coworkers online, Facebook is the platform where they’re more likely to do it (85 percent). Instagram took second place (59 percent), followed by Snapchat (57 percent) and TikTok and Twitter (both 47 percent).
All About Cookies’ report was based on a survey of 1,500 U.S. adults in February.
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