Your Daily Cup of HR: Texter Beware

Texting is all fun and games until it isn’t, and then you get fired

June 22, 2018 By: Sarah Betteridge

Every morning my husband gets up before me and is out the door before my feet even hit the ground. So, every morning I send him a text just to let him know that I made it out of bed and I’m on my way to work; “Good Morning! Love you!”. He responds, “Love you”, and that’s that. One morning I sent my customary text, and to my embarrassment, I received this reply: “Sarah, This is Emily. I think you sent this to the wrong person.” Emily was my boss. She had been the last person that I texted the day before and was therefore on the top of my text list. In my mid-morning daze, I didn’t even notice. I was mortified. I was a relatively new employee, and therefore, quite apprehensive about how this would be perceived. When I got into work, I apologized profusely and my boss actually just laughed it off. Saga over.

I really feel like I got off easy, and hopefully, that will be my only brush with texting “oops” in the workplace. I think we have all heard the texting horror stories. The employee who called out sick, and then accidentally texted their bosses that they were at the beach. An employee who thought they were venting to a fellow co-worker about their manager, but it was actually the manager they were texting. We are so connected to our phones these days, and that can lead to careless mistakes. With friends, these mistakes or auto correct flubs can be funny little anecdotes to share. In the office, these same situations lead to serious consequences. People have been fired for the texts that they have sent, accident or not. In addition, textual harassment is now an issue that lots of HR departments are having to deal with. Texting in general can seem so innocuous and innocent, but it can have the same impact as any other form of communication. Just because the message is riddled with cute and silly emojis doesn’t make it any better, if the content can be construed as untoward.

Simply put, texting is a great convention for quick and easy communication, but it can easily lead to trouble if you aren’t on guard and making sure that your messages are appropriate. And sent to the appropriate people, that usually helps, too.

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