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."
-- Dona DeZube