Curbing Reputational Risk Poised By Employee's Social NetworkingReputational hazards on behalf of employees is happening more and more these days, with nearly all employees using some form of social networking when they’re not at work.  A new Deloitte Ethics and Workplace survey examined what companies are doing to monitor their employees’ social networking habits, and how the employees feel about it all.

According to the survey,  60 percent of business executives believe they have a right to know how employees portray themselves and their organizations in online social networks.  Employees, however, disagree- as more than half (53 percent) say their social networking pages are not an employer’s concern.  This fact is especially true among younger workers, with 63 percent of 18-34 year old respondents stating employers have no business monitoring their online activity.

What’s interesting is that while 74 percent of employee respondents know the reputational  hazards posed by social networking, just 17 percent of executives surveyed say they have programs in place to monitor and mitigate the possible risk.  Even so, the survey goes on to say that nearly half of the employee respondents indicated that defined guidelines wouldn’t change their Online behavior.

Putting policies in place is only the first step, but not buried deep inside some company handbook.  Companies need to be actively monitoring their employees social networking habits by letting them know directly that they’re being watched.  Companies should already be monitoring their reputation via social networks, and should be doing the same on behalf of their employees.  Though employees may not like it, it’s an aspect that comes with the territory when working for a company that isn’t anything without their reputation.

It’s important for companies to keep track of their employees’ Online profiles as a basic defense.  Without literally peering into everything employees do via social networks, companies can develop automated processes to keep track of what’s being said about them.  Keyword searches for a company name on Twitter and Facebook, for example, can return relevant messages automatically for review by the company.  Knowing which profiles correspond to what employees is vital, however.

Though it will likely grow into a sticky issue between employers and their employees, it’s a topic that must be addressed on both sides of the fence.  Employee privacy and company reputation aside, a middle ground can be found to institute a policy and method to keep everyone on the up-and-up.