Social Media in the Workplace: 1 Out of 3 Prefer Not To Connect With Co-workers on Social Media

All About Cookies surveyed 1,500 people to find out how they feel about connecting with their co-workers on social media.
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Most people maintain a presence on at least one social media platform, meaning it’s possible to to find the profiles of just about everyone you meet in person, including co-workers. This increased connectivity creates new challenges surrounding how much of our personal lives we’re comfortable sharing with people at work.

While everybody has to decide for themselves how they want to navigate that sometimes challenging dynamic, the All About Cookies team surveyed 1,500 U.S. adults about how they deal with social media and co-workers to get a general sense of the ways people approach the topic.

In this article
Key findings
Where are people connecting most often?
Who doesn’t want to connect and why?
Workplace consequences for poor behavior on social media
Bottom line
Methodology

Key findings

  • One-third of people prefer not to connect with co-workers on social media at all.
  • Facebook is the most common platform to connect with co-workers: 85% of those surveyed said they’re connected with current co-workers on the site.
  • One in four people have seen something on social media that lowered their opinion of a co-worker.
  • 27% of people have seen a co-worker post negatively about their shared workplace on social media. 1 in 10 have seen someone fired for social media posts.
  • 44% of managers say they considered a potential hire's social media presence when making a hiring decision.

Where are people connecting most often?

Our survey found that most co-workers connect on Facebook compared to other social media sites.

The social media platform where people are the most likely to connect with co-workers is Facebook, as a whopping 85% of people that use Facebook say they’re friends with at least one co-worker on that site.

Two other platforms boast connection rates over 50%: 59% of people on Instagram say they follow or are followed by a co-worker, and 57% of Snapchat users are connected with someone they work with.

Survey respondents mostly felt that they had a better relationship with co-workers they follow online.

In terms of the impact social media connections have on interpersonal relationships at work, feelings are generally positive.

Half of people who are connected with co-workers on social media say that they feel like they have a better relationship with co-workers they follow. Only 6% of people feel they have a worse relationship with the co-workers they follow on social media compared to those they do not.

Who doesn’t want to connect and why?

Only 33% of people prefer not to connect with co-workers on social media, with the number one reason being to keep personal and work lives separate.

While many people are connected to co-workers, that doesn’t mean they all actually want to be. In fact, one out of every three people said they would prefer not to be friend requested by co-workers on social media at all.

Despite that significant portion of the workforce wishing to avoid connection requests, however, only 9% of people actually go so far as to employ strict “no co-workers” policies in regard to their social media accounts.

62% of people said a desire to keep work and personal lives separate keeps them from connecting with co-workers online, the top reason given. The next two most common answers are similar, as wanting to keep personal life details from co-workers and vice versa were cited by 28% and 18% of people respectively.

Gen Z has overwhelmingly been pressured more than other generations to add a co-worker on social media.

However, just because you don’t want to connect with co-workers doesn’t mean that they feel the same way. In some cases co-workers actually pressure others to add them online, something that 20% of all people said they have experienced (with 12% of people saying they have been pressured to add a manager or supervisor, specifically).

Our survey data reveals that younger people encounter this kind of behavior in the workplace more often than their older co-workers. More than one-third of Gen Z workers, 34%, have been pressured to add a fellow employee on social media, while the same is true of just one-fifth of millennials, 12% of Gen Xers, and only 9% of baby boomers.

24% of adults said it's only appropriate to add co-workers on social media after talking with them about it.

One reason people may not always be comfortable with adding a co-worker on social media may be the timing and nature of the request. When asked when it is appropriate to connect with a co-worker online nearly a quarter of people (24%) said that should only happen after an in-person discussion. 18% said it was appropriate after socializing outside of work.

Workplace consequences for poor behavior on social media

44% of managers say they've considered a potential hire's social media profiles when making a hiring decision.

Social media isn’t always a pretty place, and sometimes people post and say things online that can have real-world consequences on their job, at the time they post something and in the future. Among people surveyed that have hiring duties at their place of work, 44% say they take a candidate’s social media presence into account when making hiring decisions.

Even after getting hired it's important to be careful about what you post on social media. In fact, one out of every ten people say that someone has been fired from their place of work due to content posted on social media in the past. Additionally, 24% of people have seen a co-worker avoid a pink slip but still receive workplace discipline in regard to something they posted online.

Even beyond hiring and firing decisions, social media posts can color how your co-workers feel about you. More than a quarter of people, 27%, have seen a co-worker post negatively about their job or place of employment, and a full 25% of people say that their opinion of a co-worker was lowered because of social media posts.

Bottom line

No matter who you friend or follow on social media, there are always risks that come with sharing your personal life online. Here are some tips on how to keep yourself safe while enjoying your favorite social media platforms.

  • Restrict who can see your profile. Learn how to adjust privacy settings on social media to ensure who can and cannot view your profile or posts.
  • Avoid common social media mishaps. Follow our social media safety tips to keep yourself and your profiles protected.
  • Stay skeptical of scams. Even if a co-worker agrees to friend you on social media, be wary of any strange messages or requests. And keep an eye out for these common TikTok scams that could be repeated on other platforms too.

Methodology

All About Cookies surveyed 1,500 U.S. adults on their social media habits and how they interact with their co-workers on social media.

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Author Details
Josh Koebert is an experienced content marketer that loves exploring how tech overlaps with topics such as sports, food, pop culture, and more. His work has been featured on sites such as CNN, ESPN, Business Insider, and Lifehacker.