SHRM's 7 Most Talked-About Facebook Posts of 2017

Our comment queue runneth over on these articles reflecting the year in HR.

Christina Folz By Christina Folz December 19, 2017
SHRMs 7 Most Talked-About Facebook Posts of 2017

Scrolling through social media feeds can be an emotional roller-coaster. You plunge without warning from the adorable (cat videos, baby pictures) to the abhorrent (the latest sexual harassment allegations), occasionally brushing up against something profound (but did Gandhi actually say that?).  

It’s a lot to take in, but real life doesn’t come with any filters either. So it’s not surprising that some of SHRM’s most-talked about stories of the year on Facebook reflect the rich pageant of issues in human resources and the workplace.

1. Pets at Work

Let's start with the cute. HR Magazine's March cover story highlighted companies offering pet-friendly benefits, which include everything from take-your-dog-to-work days to pet insurance to animal-related volunteer excursions. It also provided tips for HR professionals considering allowing canine companions into their buildings. 

When we promoted the article on social media, we invited you to share with us the furry pals you'd love to bring to your own offices. The result is a post you should bookmark for anytime you need a boost during the day:

Or check out the original article by Lisa Rabasca Roepe to view the cute-pet trifecta: expert tips regarding pet-friendly workplaces, a slideshow of pets from the companies we highlighted, and a video showcasing our readers' best friends. 

While there was little argument that pets can be endearing—both dog and cat people represented—quite a few HR professionals felt that bringing them to the office wasn't the best idea, particularly for those who work in small spaces that don't allow alternate seating for the afraid or allergic. Moreover, as Trish Kershaw points out, even companies that do allow pets must carefully craft responsible policies. 

2. To 'Friend' or Not to 'Friend' Colleagues on Social Media?

That is the question SHRM tech editor Aliah Wright posed to HR. The HR professionals mentioned in her article mostly recommended against accepting a Facebook friend request from an employee, and employment attorneys tended to agree. 

So, too, do most of you, judging by your Facebook comments in response to the "friend-or-not" query. 

Others felt that the decision could vary for different kinds of co-workers.

3. Can Employers Fire Employees Who Participate in Hate Groups?

The white nationalist rally that occurred in Charlottesville, Va., this August, during which anti-racism activist Heather Heyer was killed at a counter-protest, was among the year's most-discussed tragedies. From an HR perspective, it raised questions about whether employers can or should fire employees who participate in hate groups. 

The answer is surprisingly unclear, as Allen Smith, J.D., SHRM's manager of workplace law news, explained in his article on that topic. Management attorneys recommend a case-by-case inquiry depending partly on the state where the worker is employed, how risk-averse the company is and whether workplace policies have been violated. The article garnered more than 70 comments and 100 shares when we posted it on Facebook, with a wide range of perspectives: 

4. Is Taking a Knee Protected Concerted Activity?

Sports provided no respite from a racially charged political environment that characterized much of 2017. In baseball, Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel received a five-game suspension for making a racist gesture during the World Series. Meanwhile, football stadiums everywhere became political hotbeds as many NFL players refused to stand during the national anthem in a protest of police brutality.

Journalists and employment experts explored whether these "take a knee" protests would count as protected concerted activity under U.S. labor law—and SHRM's senior legal editor Lisa Nagele-Piazza, SHRM-SCP, J.D., summarized various takes on the issue from trusted media outlets

Your response to this piece on Facebook was overwhelming, with most of the 43 comments including extensive discussions in their own threads. Most agreed with Neal Thomson, who didn't believe taking a knee met the NLRB's standards for concerted activity.

In fact, some felt that the article fell so far outside of the purview of day-to-day HR that SHRM shouldn't have published it in the first place. 

But others came to the article's defense, making the case that the issue was not as cut-and-dried as some commenters may think.

5. Sexual Harassment in the #MeToo Era

Sexual harassment has always been an important issue for HR, but this year brought it into the national spotlight like never before. Woman after woman stepped forward to tell their stories of being harassed or assaulted by notable public figures in entertainment, politics and journalism. 

And their employers believed them, prompting the terminations of Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, Harvey Weinstein,  Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor and others. The remarkable speed and momentum of this #metoo movement led Time magazine to select the "silence breakers" who spoke up against their harassers as their 2017 person of the year.  

SHRM published a wealth of resources to remind those in the HR community of the critical role they play in both preventing and promptly addressing harassment claims. Among the articles spurring reader debate on Facebook was a piece by SHRM's employee relations editor Dana Wilkie. In the wake of NBC's abrupt firing of Matt Lauer, Wilkie explored whether some employers may be acting too quickly to address harassment allegations. It's a question that is difficult to answer without knowing the circumstances, experts said in the article, because in some cases swift action may be appropriate. 

In response, several people, including Kate Hatfield Safford, made the case that, regardless of the situation, an investigation is warranted whenever accusations arise.    

Indeed, many commenters surmised that, at least in some of the recent famous cases, fast action now may be the result of years of foot-dragging. 

Or, perhaps Lauer's quick termination at NBC occurred because the evidence uncovered was particularly damning. 

6. and 7. Other Heavy Hitters

Here are two other articles we posted this year that generated a lot of social buzz: 

Tune in Tomorrow

Myriad issues in today's headlines intersect with HR, and next year will likely bring many more workplace-related subjects to the fore. Who's to say what HR professionals will be talking about in 2018?

You will. 

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