Separating the Online You from the Work Day You

When it comes to social networking, employers and employees, especially
younger workers, draw the privacy line in two different places,
according to this year’s Ethics & Workplace survey by Deloitte LLP.

While
60 percent of business executives say they have the right to know how
employees portray themselves and their organization in online networks,
more than half (53 percent) of employees disagree. What’s more,
a whopping 63 percent of the 18-34-year-olds who answered the survey
said employers have no business monitoring their online activity.

It’s
not as though workers don’t understand how their online actions can
embarrass an employer: About three-quarters of the 2,008 employees
who answered agreed social networks make it easier to
damage a company’s reputation. But they don’t think what they do on their own time should reflect on their company.

If
you’re among those who think bosses should mind their own business,
you’ll be happy to note only 17 percent of the 500 executives
surveyed have programs in place to monitor their employees’ social
network postings. Of course, now that Deloitte is raising the issue and
suggesting companies have "reputational risk" discussions at "the
highest level," more companies may put formal policies in place.

But even that may not convince people to watch what they post online. When
the survey asked if respondents would change their online behavior
because their company had defined social networking guidelines, 49
percent said no.

"One-third of employees surveyed never consider
what their boss or customers might think before posting material
online," says Sharon Allen, Deloitte’s chair. "This
fact alone reinforces how vulnerable brands are as a result of the
increased use of social networks. As business leaders, it is critical
that we continue to foster solid values-based cultures that encourage
employees to behave ethically regardless of the venue."

Stay tuned.

— Dona DeZube

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