Social networking and work, a problem unresolved

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marketing_small.jpgADOTAS — Employers and employees appear to be at odds over social networking, but most executives are unwilling to deal with it.

A clash between employers and employees was inevitable. According to a Deloitte LLP Ethics & Workplace survey, 60 percent of business executives believe they have a right to know how employees portray themselves and their organizations in online social networks. But more than half of employees said that say that their social networking pages are not an employer’s concern. Among younger workers, 18-34 years old, 63 percent say that employers have no business monitoring their online activity.

“With the explosive growth of online social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, rapidly blurring the lines between professional and private lives, these virtual communities have increased the potential of reputational risk for many organizations and their brands,” Sharon Allen, chairman of the board, Deloitte LLP, said in a statement. “While the decision to post videos, pictures, thoughts, experiences and observations is personal, a single act can create far reaching ethical consequences for individuals as well as employers. Therefore, it is important for executives to be mindful of the implications of this connected world and to elevate the discussion about the risks associated with it to the highest levels of leadership”

According to the study, employees understand of the risks, with 74 percent saying they know it makes it easier to damage a company’s reputation. But, maybe unsurprisingly, only 17 percent of executives surveyed say they have programs in place to monitor and mitigate the possible reputational risks related to the use of social networks. Additionally, while less than a quarter have formal policies on the medium’s use among their people, nearly half (49 percent) of employees indicate defined guidelines will not change their behavior online.

The complete results of the 2009 Ethics & Workplace survey reflect opinions of employees and business executives on questions on ethics, work-life balance, reputational risk and the prevalence of boardroom participation as it relates to increased employee social networking.

Opinion Research conducted a telephone survey on behalf of Deloitte LLP among a national probability sample of 2,008 employed adults comprising 1,000 men and 1,008 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States. Opinion Research also conducted an online survey of 500 business executives. The sample for the study came from a panel of executives across the United States, including company owners, directors, CEOs, controllers, EVPs, CIOs, VPs and board members.

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