These days a company’s personnel have two or more identities: There is the usual professional “company” profile (along with associated expectations and behavior), and the personal “off-duty” persona. An employee’s personal behavior is generally understood to be private – so long as the employee isn’t doing something to put their organization in a bad light.
But now many, if not the overwhelming majority of, employees have online identities. A Facebook account may be the most obvious online identity, but there are also LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Google searches on names, revealing blogs and even accumulated comments that may point to particular information, opinions and peril.
Thus, sometimes online “personal time” identities can pose peril to an organization – and have. Suppose a client stumbles on a client manager’s personal page and finds pictures of drinking, lewd photos, and perhaps even rambling ruminations on the manager’s workplace? Would the trusted relationship between client, manager, and organization survive? How would you feel if a service provider was suddenly thrown into a suspicious light, via something you discovered on the web? It happens… and relationships break and revoke.
More and more companies are running online checks on people as they apply. Applicants and employees, on the other hand, are “hiding” their identities by using nicknames and filters.
There is good reason for doing this, from their perspective: A survey commissioned by Microsoft shows that 70 percent of hiring managers and recruiters in the U.S. have passed on an applicant based on online information. Further, roughly 79 percent of U.S. hiring managers use the ‘net to gauge job applicants. Damaging information has ranged from criticism of past employers, co-workers and clients. Other reasons are inappropriate comments and photos – the inappropriateness of course is in the judgment of the potential employer.
But… what of an organization’s present employees? Surely many, if not most, have an online presence. Do any of them make comment on the organization, its practices, and its personnel? And if they do, what is the modern organization’s prudent activity in protecting its number one asset – its reputation? For that matter, as an employee yourself, what are you doing online? And if nothing inappropriate – would it bother you that HR may check your online presence from time-to-time?
Consider that many an employee has blasted something straight from the corporate e-mail account, tying a domain “tail” on correspondence that may be wholly inappropriate. But even from personal accounts or on personal space pages, any reference to your workplace is a matter of something that is being done in the name of your domain – here, the domain is dominion over your brand, your products, your services… your reputation. And what of an employee’s generalized poor behavior or judgment: if an employee shows poor personal judgment, as documented on the web, might business partners, customers, clients, etc. start to wonder about their own professional associations?
What is being done in the name of your domain?