According to a recent Ethics & Workplace Survey by Deloitte LLP, most of the executive-level bosses surveyed think that employee social networking behavior is, in fact, their business.
60 percent of the executives surveyed believe that they have a right to know how employees portray themselves and their employers in online social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn and YouTube.
On the flip side, 53 percent of employees surveyed disagreed with the bosses, indicating that what they post in social networks is none of their employers’ business.
Workers of age 18–34, an age group more likely to often participate in social networking, disagreed the most, as 63 percent indicated that their bosses have no business snooping their online activities.
However, 74 percent of all employees surveyed admitted that social networks make it easier to damage an employer’s reputation. 22 percent said that they visit social networking sites at least five times a week, while 23 percent said one to four times and 10 percent said once.
In the related press release, Sharon Allen, Chairman of the Board at Deloitte LLP, had this to say about that:
“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.”
Even so, only 17 percent of executives surveyed indicated that they have procedures in place to monitor and reduce the potential reputational risks associated with social networking. However, 30 percent confessed that they informally snoop social networking sites.
Only 22 percent of employers surveyed said they have formal policies regarding employee use of social networks. Regardless, 49 percent of employees surveyed indicated that such policies would not change their social networking behavior anyway.
27 percent of employees surveyed indicated that they don’t consider the ethical consequences of posting comments, photos and such to social networks. More than one-third indicated that they rarely or never consider what their boss (37%), colleagues (37%) or clients (34%) would think about what they post either.
Update: Deloitte has released a more recent version of its Ethics & Workplace Survey.
For more about employee privacy—or rather, the lack of it—see Employee Workplace Privacy Rights here at Employeeissues.com.