A recent study by Deloitte concludes that 60 percent of executives believe they have a right to know how employees portray both themselves and their employers on online social networks.
On the flip-side, 53 percent of employees say such postings are not their employer’s concern and in the 18-34 demographic that number rises to 63 percent.
Balancing an employee’s right to self expression with the business concerns of her employer has been discussed previously here but surprisingly not by many executives according to the survey:
Organizations grapple with the notion of reputational risk within the context of employees self-expression. Meanwhile, news of major global bands being impacted by the online activities of their people suggests that discussions around the topic need to be elevated to the highest levels of leadership. That said, surprisingly only 15% of executives surveyed are addressing these risks in the board room though 58% agree it is important enough to do so.
Moreover, a mere 17% have programs in place to monitor and mitigate the potential reputational risks related to the use of social networks.
The survey also concludes that "clearly defined company guidelines will not change how nearly half the respondents behave in cyberspace." It concludes:
Therefore attempts to mitigate reputational risk in these online communities should include an emphasis on culture, values, and ethics within an organization. By reinforcing these fundamental elements, business leaders will have the opportunity to encourage good decision-making in virtual social networking environments.
It’s clear based on the survey results that an effort above and beyond the standard internet policy is necessary to deal with social networks and the employee. Employers will have a difficult time attracting talent if they police their employees’ online presence, but where is the balance? These policies will have to be based on the specific needs to the company and include some flexibility. This is and and will continue to be an ever evolving process. There are no hard and fast rules.