Almost four in 10 employees who have personal blog sites have posted information about their employer, workplace or colleagues, research shows.
A survey for employment consultancy Croner, conducted by YouGov, found that 39% of respondents who blogged admitted that they had posted details which could be potentially damaging to their work environment.
Gillian Dowling, technical consultant at Croner, points to the embryonic stages of e-mail use at work as a potential yardstick. “Employees were lulled into a false sense of security by the informality that this type of communication brings.
“Employees were advised that the use of e-mails was the equivalent of sending or dictating a letter, and just as binding. These concepts remain in e-mail or internet policies today.”
Dowling said employees expressed the same lack of embarrassment when blogging as there is no face-to-face contact.
“An employee can be lulled into a false sense of security and sound off about his bad day at work on a blog without fully considering the impact such a posting may have,” she added.
Croner provides several points for employers to consider to minimise any potential risk:
- All employers need well drafted contracts of employment and a staff handbook. Well-drafted documents are likely to contain definitions of gross misconduct and clauses maintaining confidentiality which will already cover the serious risks of blogging. In addition, specific procedures for whistleblowing will already have been notified to the staff to enable employees with concerns or allegations to make protected disclosures within the organisation.
- It may be appropriate to extend a firm’s internet policy to cover blogging and the risks involved of disclosing information over the internet.
- In sensitive roles employees may be asked to sign media and communications policies, which should be expanded to include blogging.
- In some industries where there is a high level of computer literacy and usage, having a corporate blog may be an appropriate way forward to tap into the bloggers’ creative energy and enthusiasm.