What should you do if you get a friend request from your boss on Facebook? That’s a question that concerns more and more employees nowadays. Trouble is, the answer isn’t staring you in the face: no matter whether you accept or decline the request, it may have unpleasant professional consequences.
As an employee, you’d be well advised to think twice before you friend your co-workers or superiors on Facebook. Social media tend to influence your occupational life, and even though the divide between personal matters and those of business becomes more and more blurred, there may still be contents you would rather not share with your boss. At all events, the choice is yours in this situation. That won’t be the case any longer once you receive a Facebook friend request from your employer. It’s necessary to react, then. The question is: how to?
Employees are in a bit of a bind when they have to decide whether they should add their boss to their list of friends on Facebook. Many of them regard such a friend request as a nuisance or as an intrusion into their private lives. However, very few do actually dare to decline it because they are apprehensive of possible consequences such as losing their jobs. And even if the worst doesn’t come to pass – employers aren’t likely to take kindly to rejection, however courteously it is worded, and explaining that you only use your Facebook account for private purposes also might not prevent all negative consequences.
On the other hand, if you accept the friend request of your boss, you should always take precautions as soon as possible. Otherwise, your superior will get to see your party pictures and be able to read along when you exchange views on problems or contents with your friends. To put it briefly, your new Facebook friend will find out quite a lot about your private life, and if you call in sick, for instance, while your posts reveal that your failure to appear at work can be put down to an entirely different reason, it may even lead to your dismissal. Therefore, you should only post entries or contents that won’t get you in trouble if others see them at your place of work, or change your privacy settings at the very least.
Last but not least, all these deliberations beg the question: aren’t there any advantages to having co-workers or superiors as Facebook friends? There are some, of course. You can use your Facebook account for professional exchanges, for self-marketing or to network. It is also possible to organise projects or hold virtual ad-hoc-meetings via Facebook. Did all of your colleagues friend your boss? That may be reason enough for you to do so, too. Still, you should always consider the ramifications: taking this step will mean that your Facebook account won’t – solely – serve for your entertainment any longer. It will be used for professional purposes instead.