TikTok users expect to view videos featuring adorable animals, random people singing or dancing, and, well, just about anything. But work advice, job-related grousing, and office gossip?
Since the pandemic, more and more workers have moved their work complaints from the proverbial watercooler to the popular video platform. The hashtag #careertiktok has generated 1.5 billion views and features vlogs in which workers rage, cry, and tell tales out of school.
This phenomenon points to a major shift in how and where people talk about their workplace experiences. Previously, professional work-related platforms offered posts about career milestones and successes. However, the new TikTok-as-watercooler trend allows vloggers to show their vulnerability and talk about taboo situations such as salary transparency and discrimination.
It began when employees were sent home during the COVID-19 pandemic, many to work in spaces not meant to be used as an office. At the same time, these isolated workers lost the perks of being in an office—free client dinners, camaraderie with office mates, office parties—and moldered in the lonely grind of work, work, work. The only place to vent was online. Even LinkedIn, the leading professional networking platform, saw an overwhelming number of posts about stress, burnout, and mental health. But TikTok quickly became the go-to outlet for disenchanted, overworked, and unhappy employees.
Then, as businesses slowly reopened but many continued to work remotely, the need for work-related content on social platforms skyrocketed as a means to take the place of in-person contact. A new job category, “workfluencers,” even appeared. These people create content and include behind-the-scenes information about jobs and fields and are often tell-alls. But while such sharing can be lucrative—workfluencers often hawk products, subscriptions, and services to increase their own bottom lines—it can have downsides. Many organizations consider social media creators both a blessing and a curse, pointing out that while a single voice can carry a great deal of power, that power can get others interested or just as easily uninterested in a company.
Other repercussions have occurred, not the least of which is a lack of professionalism. Take the case of “the crying CEO,” who posted a photo of himself sobbing after he laid off staff. His desire to share may have come from an honest emotion, but social media trolls called him “disgusting,” and “self-serving.” Another employee who boasted about the many perks at her company prompted derisive comments, including one from a venture capitalist who wrote, “Doesn’t anyone still work?”
Sharing—or oversharing—about a job can also lead to more dire consequences. A woman who posted about her job at Meta disturbed her employer so much that it launched investigations into her complaints, leaving her so humiliated that she quit.
The bottom line is that just because one can do something—like post a video or share compromising information or opinions—doesn’t mean one should.
- Why could having a large following on TikTok be a mixed blessing?
- What are some topics that should be avoided on social networks and why?
- Why should a new employee become well versed in the organization’s policies on sharing publicly on social media?
Based on Rice, M. (2022, November 10.) The rise of the ‘workfluencer.” Business Insider. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com