Want to know why your company is currently blocking social media sites? Look no further than this article at the Economist, which riffs on the fact that progressive Virgin Airlines recently canned 13 people for making fun of customers and doing cockroach sightings via Facebook:
"On October 31st Virgin fired 13 of its cabin crew who had posted derogatory comments about its safety standards and some of its passengers on a Facebook forum. Among other things, crew members joked that some Virgin planes were infested with cockroaches and described customers as “chavs”, a disparaging British term for people with flashy bad taste. On November 3rd BA began investigating the behaviour of several employees who had described some passengers as “smelly” and “annoying” in Facebook postings.
Some airline customers may not be fragrant paragons of exquisite taste, but attacking them online is a public-relations (PR) disaster that raises the question of whether the two firms have done enough to educate staff about acceptable use of the internet. BA says employees sign a policy that forbids them from posting information about the firm online without specific authorisation. But it clearly needs to do more to reinforce that message. Virgin points out that it has several internal channels through which staff can vent frustrations. But if these were effective, why would employees feel the need to moan on Facebook?"
Nice case study with this one. First up, I'm not sure that the employee relations channels would be open to mocking customers - that's just me, last time I checked, making fun of customers wasn't part of the Ombudsman service. Also, could we have a sequel to "Snakes on a Plane" with cockroaches? Is Samuel Jackson available?
All kidding aside, what I like about this case study is the line between private and public. Can you complain about where you work and your customers? Sure, but if you put your name on it, you own it - even in your personal account on Facebook, where you might think you can do anything you want.
Transparency is good. That's the message we should send to employees, and we can start by trusting them with access to everything at work, with guidance on their own accountability with the tools....