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Responding to Employee Blogs
Today, 70,000 new Web logs -- also called blogs -- are created every day, as per the blog search engine and measurement company Technorati. In addition, a research report in 2005 from the Pew internet as well as American Life Project report indicated that there are more than 32 million users of blogs. HR leaders may be stunned by what ex-employees, employees currently employed, and even potential employees write on blogs regarding various businesses. And depending upon the scale of their businesses they could be amazed at the number of customers and their competitors are blogging about their products or services. The issue is then what to do when unflattering or damaging comments are discovered for example, when: A health care worker wrote about being able surf the Web all day long after the company's server was down An employee complained to her boss, who was accused of not permitting the employee to take a leave of absence for a sick day. • A female flight attendant shared a provocative photograph of herself wearing a uniform, but without a visible company name or logo or A computer employee posted a picture of the company's loading dock , which was receiving a rival's shipment of computers. For more detail please visit>>> In all of those cases the employers made the decision to dismiss their employees. Negative feedback can negatively impact the competitive edge, reputation retention and recruitment. This is an evolving area that demands HR to act quickly and ensure their business is protected. HR leaders must analyze the risk in their businesses and devise a business strategy to respond to this complex, emerging arena in risk management. Blogs by Employees A survey of corporate marketing and communication professionals revealed at BlogOn2005 -an event organized by Guidewire Group, a San Francisco-based firm that conducts global research exclusively on emerging technology markets. The survey revealed that 55 percent of companies are using blogs, primarily for internal communications. Some companies also allow external bloggers, from line workers to CEOs as a way to get new customers to join their ranks. But what about employees who are posting anonymously , or, at the very least, not officially. HR managers should designate someone to monitor Internet conversations regarding their businesses and sourcing agencies, like eWatch as well IBM's Public Image Monitoring Solution software can assist in this effort. Another way to find these comments is to visit Google's home page Click on"More," then click on "More" button, then click on "Blog Search" to plug into your company's name. Based on the state of their employment in which they work, employees are required to show a sense of loyalty to their employer as agents of the business. This obligation extends to keeping secret information from the company and avoiding criticism or defamation of the business. In the absence of a valid claim in a whistle-blower or discrimination statute the employee who is fired usually does not have recourse against the employer. The issue becomes more complex in the event that the poster is not anonymous. The law is currently in flux over whether a company can require an Internet Service Provider, such as Yahoo to reveal information about the identity of an anonymous blogger. In general there is a law that states the First Amendment protects anonymous speech on the Web. However, the court must be able to weigh these rights against harmful or untruthful speech, when deciding whether to permit an organisation to demand the ISP to disclose the name of the person who posted the message. If the person who was exposed turns up to be an employee, the company is able to decide its course of action. In the case of employees, allowing them to blog is a choice that is mostly dependent on the company's culture and willingness to surrender some control of its public image, to generate Internet buzz. Blogs can attract loyal readers if a company insider blogs freely about the location of work, the culture of the company, and the products or services. The blog posts connect the consumer to the company in a way where traditional marketing methods do not. However there is a natural trepidation of having employees writing about the company as well as its employees. The main issue is the decision of whether to ban blogging at work and on off time, or allowing such activity with limits. This option could be risky, however companies could see increased earnings with an innovative approach to using the Web as a means to promote the company's visibility. HR's Strategic Map In the context of this strategic map, suppose that the business employs an employee who writes personal journals on her own time to record her experiences at work . The company does not have a written corporate blogging policy. HR should then be able to: Review the blog's content: Does it reveal trade secrets or include defamatory information? If so, inform the company or an outside counsel as soon as possible. If it's just a personal diary, read it attentively to determine whether there are any harmful or offensive content, as well as whether employees are also posting comments. Conduct some research: Visit to the Web and look at some blogs' policies in effect. For example, Yahoo's Personal Blog Guidelines were "developed for Yahoos who maintain personal blogs that contain postings about Yahoo! 's business, products, or fellow Yahoos and the work they do." [See SIDEBAR - CREATING A BLOGGING PRIORITY below] Discover the latest innovations: Understand your corporate culture and design the outline of a blogging policy tailored to your company's specific needs. The good thing is that blogging policies are available on the Web therefore the company will not need to re-invent the wheel. * Prepare a business strategy to juggle and redirect limited resources. You must be prepared to answer business-related questions about the allocation of money and personnel to implement and maintain this plan. Are you able to find a cost-effective way to justify this diversion of resources? Put off your HR hat and put yourself in the role of the ones who take these tough corporate decision. * Get allies on board A successful blogging policy requires input from risk managers, the IT department, and counsel. Ask yourself how you will bring together these stakeholders to think about the policy you are proposing. Promote ethical conduct The discussion around blogging can be another way to discuss ethical conduct at work including the importance of protecting trade secrets as well as other confidential information, and encouraging respect between coworkers. * Prove HR's continued value as point people: Be prepared to implement the policy of blogging, train employees, track blog activity, evaluate the morale of employees and implement the policy.  

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