Each day this week I am blogging about one of the 5 latest workplace trends impacting harassment claims. Yesterday, I covered retaliation - next up: Web 2.0.
Trend #2: Web 2.0
With more than 500 million active Facebook users and 140 million Tweets sent per day, employers can be sure that their employees are engaging in social networking. 24% of employers have had to discipline employees for activities on social networking sites - and that number is only going to get bigger.
Technology makes it is easier than ever for people to lower their inhibitions, slip up and create a permanent electronic trail documenting everything from explicit workplace affairs to clear evidence of sexual , racial, and religious harassment. Employees are often unaware that inappropriate social networking activities (like posting a rant about a coworker on a blog) conducted off the clock, after hours or offsite can land them in hot water with their employer.
Privacy also becomes a big issue when employees don't know that privacy cannot be expected when it comes to electronic communications made at work, made during working time, or made using an employer's electronic resources (computers, smart phones, networks etc.) Even electronic communications made after hours and offsite using personal equipment can lose their privacy if they have a tangible impact on the workplace.
Managing the Risk of Technology and Social Media
Employers are playing a constant game of "catch-up," trying to update policies, establish appropriate boundaries and train their employees on a constantly evolving set of issues. And most employers, based on our experience, are woefully behind. Unfortunately, even if you revised your polices and training as recently as two years ago, chances are they're outdated and don't address emerging technologies.
Revise your policies to address social networking, blogging, and texting, and make sure your harassment training programs reinforce your polices - especially the latest trends. Online training is a particularly effective tool to train on these topics, because it allows employers to simulate, in a virtual environment, the very issues they are trying to address.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's post on my next harassment training trend: Religious Harassment.