This morning I watched our local senator, Carl Levin, read expletive laden emails written by executives at Goldman Sachs in which they complained about their own products. Several years ago I completed a business ethics training program that included what to write (and not write) in an email. Apparently the folks at Goldman Sachs never got that training.
My question to you is: “What are your employees writing?” While emails are an outstanding method of fast and efficient communications, they are also extremely easy to forward, misunderstand, and they never really go away.
But this conversation shouldn’t stop at email. How many people do you know maintain blogs, Twitter or Facebook accounts? Since people spend the majority of their day at work, that’s what they are likely to write about. I routinely Google and do blog searches of my name, my company (and occasionally my kids) to see what is being posted. Sometimes you can find interesting stuff. One notable example was an employee at a sister location of my employer who wrote a blog about her experiences working on third shift. It wasn’t bad, but it did describe her co-workers in detail by name.
What should you do to avoid being questioned by Senator Levin about the email messages your employees send?
• Make certain that you have a clear policy that covers all methods of electronic communications and what your expectations are.
• Train your employees on the risks of electronic communications.
• Make certain that they are not typing up assumptions about product liability, business ethics, or human resources issues that could come back to haunt you.
• Clearly explain that there is to be no expectation of privacy for anything written at work or while using company equipment, like computers and cell phones, including text messages.
• Include provisions for posting comments about the company on line – when is it appropriate and when is it not?
Take a few minutes this afternoon and try the Google test yourself. You may also want to read through that policy one more time…If you need help, let us know.