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Sacrificing your privacy on social media for job security

Sacrificing your privacy on social media for job security

Almost a third of employees are now willing to allow employers to have greater access to their social media activity in return for improved job security, according to a new report from PwC. Employers in turn would use the information to build insights into what motivates their workforce, the reasons why staff choose to switch jobs, and to improve employee wellbeing. The report also found that 59% of respondents were happy to be contacted by their employers outside their normal working hours.

The company surveyed 10,000 workers and 500 human resources professionals in the UK, the United States, Germany, India and China.

The other end of the privacy spectrum

The PwC report comes just days after Creditsafe released a survey finding that just 26% of recruiters and headhunters check the accuracy of the CV claims made by candidates for executive positions – with common falsehoods including the chronology of employment history and achievements in the boardroom. Creditsafe group marketing director David Knowles commented: “Recruitment is a sales environment, so if you need to get 100 members of staff it’s not always practical to check every claim on every CV. But I also think HR teams just don’t know that it’s possible to get the information on candidates elsewhere”.

The job of screening applicants may have gotten tougher, however, with the European Court of Justice’s recent “right to be forgotten” ruling allowing individuals to request the removal of links to “inadequate, irrelevant, or excessive” information. Recruiters have expressed fears of the impact the ruling could have on the screening process, and that losing certain data could lead to the “wrong” candidate being hired. As a counterpoint to this, Boyce Recruitment’s Elizabeth Smythe says there remains an “ethical question” regarding whether it’s right to scan the internet – including social media sites such as Facebook – for background checks.

“No HR justification whatsoever”

Dismissing the idea, Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University, said: “First of all, it is naive to think that if you trade off your privacy rights (for example, access to one’s social media) that an employer can ever guarantee job security. Second, I can’t see, if an employer had access to an employee’s social media, how this could possibly lead to greater employee motivation or wellbeing. This seems a plain case of trying to find out what employees are doing and thinking – clearly an intrusion into their private life. I see no HR justification for it whatsoever”.

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