Social Media Checks on Employees

Social media is everywhere and that is not going to change. Employers are rightly wondering if they should include a social media check as part of their recruiting and pre employment background checking process.

Already the hiring process in most businesses involves a number of checks. They are standard procedures almost everywhere for jobs that require some amount of social standing. Some of them are very important checks, such as the national police certificate or its equivalent, or the document verification check. Doing these processes helps to weed out any criminals or undesirables. A social media check by comparison might seem frivolous and unnecessary.

However, in this article, we will be looking at the whole issue of social media, in particular in the context of new employees, and pointing out the advantages of adding this to your vetting procedure.

Protect your company’s reputation

It has never been truer to say that a poorly worded tweet or something that could be reasonably seen as offensive won’t just reflect badly upon your employee, the person who posted the tweet but also the company he or she works for, this is particularly true and worrisome if they happen to be a member of the C-suite.

Social Media is often seen as an ‘instant’ medium, in other words, the things posted are ephemeral and last only a short period of time. It’s estimated that a Twitter post has a shelf-life of 18 minutes for example.

But the reality is they are still there, sitting in the background waiting for someone to dig them out.

Imagine then that the company trumpets the appointment of the new CEO only to have Twitter users digging up old posts that show someone with racist views. What would that do to your company’s reputation?

Within minutes, in real-time the company could be firefighting a very serious situation online and the new executive wouldn’t seem like such a well thought out hire after all.

Does their story stand up?

Maybe there’s an explanation that makes this all OK but do you want to employ someone who starts off their relationship with their new company by lying?

While such lies are indeed harmless, they can be indicative of deceptive behaviour, which can be more harmful to your company than you realise.

This brings up the need for conducting a thorough background check with the help of a private investigator using agencies such as Bond Rees. They will say that “If you would like to Find out more about our service, then visit our website.” which is a good thing to do if you are seriously considering going down this route.

You’d want to conduct a top-down verification to ascertain whether the potential employee is honest or not because this might affect the communication established within your organization and influence company culture.

Would you now think that is an honest person?

Maybe there’s an explanation that makes this all OK but do you want to employ someone who starts off their relationship with their new company by lying?

Will they fit in with the culture of your company?

You can find out a lot by checking out someone’s social media accounts.

The question you need to answer is whether this person will fit in with your company culture – are they a good fit?

If you run a company that is all about the outdoors, being active, taking part and your potential hire is clearly a home bird who never takes part in any sport or outdoor activities then you need to think about whether they will be happy with you.

A serious health warning (or two)

This all sounds great but we do need to insert a heavy-duty health warning here.

First of all, you need to bear in mind the requirements of GDPR. Accessing someone’s social media is a form of data and as such is covered by the regulation so please make sure you are compliant.

Secondly, you need to be aware that social media will include details of someone’s protected characteristics. These include Sexual orientation, Religion, Ethnic background, and even someone’s age. Making a decision that includes information about these protected characteristics is strictly forbidden so be aware.

The last thing we’d say is that social media is a world all of its own. We rarely show our true selves online so it’s important that employers treat the information they gather sensitively and add a big dollop of common sense.

Can social media checks help?

Yes, they can.

An adverse media check needs to be comprehensive and fully compliant with employment rules.

It will also be context-specific, which means that it takes into account the context of any posts rather than simply just the content.

Sometimes though, checking the social media footprint of a senior employee is unavoidable

If you are in the position of needing to understand a little more about your potential hires but you think that a standard social media check really might not be appropriate what do you do?

There really is no substitute for the hiring manager to make a decision for themselves but a good social media check will give you extra information that you can choose to take into account or not as the case may be.

Overall though we’d counsel that it pays to get the best social media check from a professional background-checking company that understands the law.

If you’d like more information about our social media checks or any of our pre-employment vetting services then why not drop us a line?