Can you avoid HR Twitter disaster?

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Social media is moving faster than some organizations can keep up with, and it’s vital that HR understand how to maintain control and mitigate damage.

The number one rule might be: “Before firing an employee, make sure they can’t access to the official Twitter account.”

It’s a situation we already saw this year when HMV laid off almost 200 people, including the marketing team, who live-tweeted their dismissals.

This time it’s a smaller business, which means the backlash will likely have a bigger impact on their bottom line. The Plough Pub, in Oxfordshire, UK, fired their head chef this week, perhaps unaware that he ran the official @ploughpub account.

The first tweets weren’t too harmful, with @ploughpub posting “Merry Christmas everyone” and “We'd like to inform you that we've just fired our head chef.”

But the true motivation for the posts soon became clear as the chef posted a series claiming he was fired for asking for Christmas day off.

However, the final shot was aimed straight at the business’s customers as he accused the owners of buying their “Australian sirloins” and “New Zealand lamb” at local discount supermarket Asda.

He ended with a cheery “Happy Christmas everyone!”, however, the story doesn’t end there as chef Jim Knight posted on his personal Twitter account (@chefjimknight) that he has received a job offer because of the series of tweets.


How does your organization manage social media? What would you do to prevent this happening at your company?


  • Ruben Benmergui BA, MIR, LLM, CHRP on 2013-12-17 4:10:32 AM

    Another condescending and vacuous article purporting to provide professional advice to HR practitioners. Enough already! HR Professionals have proven that they are progressive (a certification and re-certification Program; control of HR curricula aimed at designation qualification; a university degree requirement..etc..etc..) Give us credit for dealing with new developments in the workplace including the vagaries of social media. We know "it’s vital that HR understand how to maintain control and mitigate damage.." when it comes to social media. We can deduce that as professionals.

  • Caitlin Nobes on 2013-12-17 10:27:34 AM

    Thanks for your input Ruben - I certainly hope it's true that most HR pros know how to manage social media in the work place, but we wouldn't have these stories occurring if everyone was getting it right. And it's not just small businesses. In the past two years we've seen social media missteps from HMV, McDonald's, and President's choice. I'm glad you and your peers are on top of it, but HRM will keep covering these incidents because they show that not all organizations are as aware or proactive as they should be.

  • Titus on 2013-12-20 7:27:02 PM

    All the HR credentials in the world if the person does not have excellent communication and interpersinal skills, good judgement ,excellent common sense and aove all understand that you are not in control of the organization you are an advisor.

  • Ruben Benmergui BA, MIR, LLM, CHRP on 2013-12-21 1:52:27 AM

    Thank you Caitlin.

    In the incident at issue, the decision was not made by an HR Professional.

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