Pranks vs Damage: Ex-Employee Hids Photos of Her at Work

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Photo Credits: Austin Distel via Unsplash

Last week an old TikTok prank video resurfaced, which ended up becoming viral. A user with the TikTok name “Marchie” posted a video where she talked about getting laid off. She explains that she was the only one to get laid off and it “really sucked”, so she found a way to take a little revenge on her former employer and coworkers.

According to the video, she left pictures of herself in the office for her ex-workers to find. She says “To prove to them that I will never actually leave, I hid tiny pictures of myself all over the office with different things in the speech bubble”. In the video, her picture is in the background with the word “bazinga” in the speed bubble.

She also says that she numbered all the pictures but also skipped numbers, so they feel like they haven’t ever found them all. Additionally, she tells her viewers that she had been informed by an ex-coworker that the hunt for her pictures was ongoing. In the text, a photo was attached that showed a whiteboard that said, “How many pictures of Madison are hidden around the office?” with pictures of her stuck in front of it.

At present the video has over 700k likes and 5.4 million views.

Drawing the Line Between Pranks and Actual Damage

While Madison’s video is a harmless prank, that has actually been taken really well by everyone in her former workplace, there is a need to draw a line. Being laid off or getting fired from work can often cause resentment or ill feelings in employees causing them to lash out harshly. The first and best way to avoid any issues in the future will be to treat all employees well and with kindness, even when you, as an employer, need to give them the bad news.

READ: Research Shows a High Number of Gen Z Employees Feel Overworked
and Dread Their Job

Employees often know what goes on behind the scenes, and if they discover that management is not practising what they preach, they may become dissatisfied and share these issues with the public after leaving their job. How the company handles situations like layoffs is crucial for maintaining a good relationship with employees even after they leave. If an articulate and intelligent former employee decides to speak out against the company, it can harm its reputation. Therefore, it’s a mistake to let employees leave angry or unhappy.

We asked Tessa Harris, employment law director at Redmans, about ways in which employers can protect themselves from similar future situations. Her first piece of advice was to get into a written agreement. “This can then include a clause within it in which both parties agree to refrain from making any comment, whether in writing or verbal, that could be harmful or damaging to the other’s business or reputation. Whilst this is the ideal situation, generally an employer would need to compensate the employee for entering into such an agreement” she added.

She also says that employers can offer detailed references to show their good behaviour and professionalism and be available for follow-up calls from other employers. Furthermore, it is crucial to add restrictive covenants in employment contracts which will prohibit employees from disclosing information once they leave the company. Tessa warns employers that such clauses can interfere with employees who want to make a claim in the Employment Tribunal and advises employers to word such clauses carefully.

Enhanced Communication is the Need of the Hour

Lack of transparency and ineffective communication often lead to damage to a company’s online reputation. Unfortunately, disgruntled ex-employees may say negative things about your business. In such cases, HR plays an important role in managing the situation. It’s essential to understand your options and make informed decisions about how to address these matters.

READ: Ageism Still Rampant and Pushing Older Employees Out of the Workforce

In the case of Madison, she made a follow-up video to clarify that she wasn’t fired but laid off which means her company could not afford her anymore. She also clarified that she does have a guaranteed spot once the company can afford to pay her again. This amount of transparency with her employer, plus her rapport with her co-workers, allowed her to not only play a harmless prank but be certain that she will not get into serious trouble.

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