Ethics on the Job


With smartphones and tablets, it’s almost impossible not to check in with your social media accounts multiple times a day. I lose track how much I check my Facebook – I leave it up all the time, so I guess you can say that I am always checking it. I obviously am not alone in this; everyone is checking in and logging in, if not on their computer at work, then certainly on their phones on (or not on) breaks. I think it’s clear that all of this social media usage can’t possibly be completely work related.

In my eyes, employers can handle this in 2 ways. 1) Block access to all social sites on work computers. However, this does not solve the problem of smart phone usage at work, and it is pretty hard to dictate cell phone usage, particularly on lunch or on breaks. Or 2) Allow social usage if it means that employees are promoting the company or brand.

I do not allow my employees (“the girls”) to use the work computer for anything personal. Because it is our main POS terminal, I want to limit the Internet use so that the terminal is always open and ready to accept a sale. I do regularly check the browser history to make sure that they are not using it, and have password protected several sites on the browser (even though I am sure they are fully capable of clearing the browser history). I feel that I am fully within my ethical rights to do so. However, I do allow them to bring in their personal tablets and smartphones – as long as they are not in use and locked when customers are in the store. As far as social media, I do not monitor their activity on their personal devices. That would be unethical and pretty nosy and invasive. I actually encourage them to check in at work and to use #thepinkpetticoat on their posts, to further market the brand. To me, this is a positive contribution to the store – showing employee engagement and a sense of team within our work place.

I have a very loose social media policy in place, and I do think the business would benefit from something more structured. I want to be represented well by my employees both when they are at work, and when they are not. I certainly don’t want social media ranting and raving to happen, either.

I think a set of guidelines would be a positive impact on the ethics of the store, as it would provide everyone a sense of assurance of what is appropriate and what is not. With that assurance, no one has to be worried that the posts are going to result in termination or a reprimanding. Instead, we can all focus on using social media to promote and be ambassadors for the brand.