The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees US citizens the right to “freedom of speech.” Citizens may freely express themselves in a public forum on any subject, including political topics, and rest assured that there will be no detrimental consequences. This is a known fact and beyond contest. Right?
The First Amendment reads:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Oh, those pesky details. Note the amendment specifies “Congress shall make no law.” Unless a person is an employee of Congress, those precious freedom of speech protections may not apply.
Before you join in a protest or send that Tweet, there are a few precautions you should consider:
When social media enters the mix, the potential risks for speaking one’s mind increase exponentially with each “like,” “share” and “tweet.” Expressing political views on a contentious issue or actively promoting and endorsing a candidate (or even not promoting a specific candidate) can pose a risk. If an employer believes an employee’s stated opinion or supported political candidate reflects negatively on the company, or that their actions fall below an expected level of professionalism, the employee may face disciplinary action that could end in termination.
Those practicing activism via the Internet use email, social media postings, live-casting and podcasts to communicate and disseminate information.
Online political activism is usually categorized in one of three ways: awareness and advocacy, organization and mobilization, or action/reaction. Examples could include:
Any of these activities, even those undertaken from a private home or public venue, or those taking place during nonworking hours can be grounds for discipline and/or termination.
An online footprint can go so far as to hinder one’s chances in the hiring process. Recruiting expert Alysse Metzler, in her 2013 book “The Recruiting Snitch,” found over 70 percent of recruiters for US companies investigate potential employees on social media before hiring. According to Metzler, an online presence dominated by political views raises warning flags.
It is human nature to take a “That won’t happen to me” approach to hypothetical situations, such as getting fired for making a post to Facebook. But the reality is that it does happen. There are cases now making their way through the court systems in which employers terminated employees for participating in organized activism, for political statements and affiliations.
In the coming years, the lines between what is and is not protected speech may be more clearly delineated. Employers may revise their company handbook or onboarding materials to clarify definitions of which activities are acceptable and which are not.
Until then, take care in what you do and say. Neither employee nor employer is as protected as they may seem.
For a long time employees joined a company, contributed to a retirement plan, and stayed for decades, slowly moving up the corporate ladder. That depiction no longer reflects the modern workplace or the modern workforce. Millennials have different needs and expectations, but if you are willing to adapt, you can ensure you continue to attract the talent your business needs.
Millennials crave feedback, far more often than managers are willing to provide. At most companies, managers conduct an annual review with direct reports to evaluate their performance. Some well-known companies now provide bimonthly feedback sessions to better engage younger employees that aren’t comfortable having that conversation once a year. Millennials are tech-savvy, and it is often necessary to use a variety of channels such as videos, websites, and interactive tools to better track progress and provide feedback. Firms must clearly communicate near-term goals along with the intermediary steps necessary to reach those goals, and it’s often beneficial to work with outside partners to help craft those messages.
Millennials want to know how they are performing, and they also want to know where that performance will take them. The timeline for career advancement has shrunk considerably; millennials expect a promotion every one to two years. This is of course not feasible for your entire workforce, but for top performers, granting an extra title or other recognition could stave off headhunters looking to capitalize on any dissatisfaction. According to some studies, 60 percent of millennials will leave a job within the first three years; with a workforce that fickle, a little extra spending now could save significant hiring costs later.
It’s not enough to just offer a paycheck; employers also have to offer a sense of purpose. According to one study, two-thirds of millennials won’t take a job offer from a company that doesn’t have a strong corporate social responsibility program. Hiring managers need to make sure that they emphasize opportunities for engagement as part of the total compensation package when recruiting top talent. From a logistical perspective, companies need to build programs to provide service opportunities or partner with service organizations that can provide that infrastructure.
Millennials comprise a steadily growing portion of the workforce, and companies that want to compete for the best talent will need to adapt to that reality. While some of the demands of millennial employees may seem taxing or silly to managers, failing to adapt to those demands in time could mean a significant slowdown in hiring, and in turn, competitiveness. The good news is that making these changes, and using comprehensive communications solutions to connect can boost morale not just among millennials and new hires, but throughout your entire workforce.
No matter if you are a labor attorney, human resources professional, or business owner, no matter if you’re looking to stay informed about the Employee Free Choice Act, or you just want to recruit and retain the best employees – in the blogosphere, the answers are all there. The problem is, there’s such a wealth of information, it’s nearly impossible to know where to focus your energies.
In an effort to ease that queasy drinking-from-a-firehose feeling, I offer the following nine labor relations and employment law blogs. These are the ones I subscribe to, the ones I wouldn’t live without:
Staying abreast of labor and employment issues is the best way to ensure that your organization remains union free and successful. Make checking all or some of these blogs part of your daily routine by subscribing to their RSS feed or bookmarking them.
Projections has been helping companies communicate with employees for more than 3 decades. CEO Walter Orechwa believes in working with the Human Resources and Labor Relations experts that help those companies maintain positive employee relations. For more information on the video, web, and eLearning resources Projections offers, please visit their website at www.ProjectionsInc.com