Research has revealed that more than one third of bloggers are posting information about their employer, workplace or colleague – and some of those details are potentially sensitive or damaging.
The survey, carried out for Croner by YouGov, revealed that 39 per cent of bloggers admitted to posting details about their working lives.
A blog is a web-based diary – and because details are posted on the internet they have the potential to be read worldwide. Entries are also archived so can be accessible for some time.
As a result, Croner is warning businesses to consider the potential impact of blogging. Gillian Dowling, technical consultant at Croner, explains the problem is similar to that of the early days of email.
“In the 1990s when emails were introduced as a new means of communication employees were lulled into a false sense of security by the informality that this type of communication brings,” she says.
“Many recipients received rude, angry or otherwise inflammatory emails which had been written and sent in the heat of the moment.
“Back then it was common to train staff on the use of emails which included advising employees not to send inappropriately worded emails in haste. Employees were advised that the use of emails was the equivalent of sending or dictating a letter, and just as binding. These concepts remain in email or internet policies today.”
With blogging, the employee, sitting in front of his computer screen, experiences the same lack of embarrassment as there is no face-to-face contact. Gillian adds: “An employee can be lulled into a false sense of security and sound offs about his bad day at work on a blog without fully considering the impact such a posting may have.
“If there is a negative impact on the organisation’s corporate image which is so serious that it breaches the implied term of mutual trust and confidence, the employee could be dismissed for gross misconduct.
“The blog could also be evidence of other conduct issues or reveal workplace discrimination or bullying. Confidential secrets could be disclosed including financial information or new product development, or whistleblowing all of which could have a negative impact on the business.
“Employers need to ensure that they carefully consider the impact of blogging on their organisation and take appropriate steps to minimise any potential risk.”
Croner’s top tips for organisations worried about the impact of blogging are:
- Make sure employment contracts or handbooks are well drafted and contain definitions of gross misconduct and clauses maintaining confidentiality, these will cover the risks blogs pose
- Check whether it is appropriate to extend your organisation’s internet policy to cover blogging
- If employees in sensitive roles are asked to sign media and communications policies, expand these to include blogging
- Consider tapping into bloggers’ creative energy and enthusiasm by creating a corporate blog.