Recently, Netflix got some press for allegedly firing three employees over their comments on Slack. Apparently, venting about upper management caught someone’s eye on the messaging app and the gossiping employees got their pink slips. Conversations that used to take place behind closed doors are suddenly happening on company provided messaging apps, with the increase in remote work. And it should come as no surprise to employees that management may choose to keep their ear to the ground or in this case, their eyes on all conversations. So whether your organization uses Slack, Google Chat, Microsoft Teams, or one of the many other messaging apps, it’s important to remember that every written word can be reviewed. 

How to vent and Keep your Job

So, what can you do in a remote environment when you feel the need to process what is happening? Maybe you’re not the only one struggling to communicate with management. You can still chat it up with your coworkers, but there are some things to keep in mind. 

  1. Remember the medium that you are using. Whether you’re on email or a messaging app, your words are accessible should your company ever want to review them. That fact is simply part of being an employee. If you think you could be embarrassed or misinterpreted, delete the message. 
  2. When in doubt, wait to send. Sometimes, when you hold off on replying, your message changes the next day. And sometimes, your feelings change so you can just delete your thoughts. If writing is your therapy, buy a journal. Don’t unload on the workplace team’s message system. 
  3. Use your personal phone. Asking a coworker if you can call them from your personal phone is a great way to have a private conversation that allows you to blow off some steam or process recent organizational decisions. If you have a trusted coworker, you should expect this conversation to remain private. 
  4. Be your own advocate. It can be helpful to sound off to others and process emotions. However, the office gossip mill can lead to a toxic and unproductive environment. Instead, sit down with management to discuss your concerns. That way, you sound less like a complainer, and more like a rational and committed employee. 

Take the High Road

It’s not a good look for management to show gossiping employees the door. Although Netflix leadership followed up on the initial reports, saying that the comments were not made in personal chats, it still makes it clear that management is reading. And, the reality is that if you want to keep your job, there are better ways to handle poor leadership. So, take the higher road and never forget who owns the computer and applications that you are using.  

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.