In Facing up to Facebook (PDF), the UK Trades Union Congress offers some advice to HR staff regarding employee use of social networks at work:

“Employees have a right to a personal life, and provided they do not breach reasonable conduct guidelines, employers should respect this…A responsible way to handle this is for employers to negotiate a reasonable conduct policy with employee representatives, and make it clear to them what is expected of them in their private lives, both offline and online.”

Shiv Singh offers an excellent response that ends with, “Don’t control unless there’s an absolute need to control.” He’s right. If employers venture into the gray territory of telling employees “what is expected of them in their private lives” the approach will backfire and employees will think twice about contributing anything to any tool the employer uses, wiki included.
A later paragraph takes a much more reasoned approach: “The current media hype is sometimes unhelpful and may encourage employers to waste time on imaginary problems, when an honest and open conduct policy, coupled with a hands-off approach to employees’ personal lives could avoid unnecessarily damaging relations with the workforce.” The problem with this document is it’s waffling on both sides of this issue.
Here’s the bottom line for organizations:

  • Trust your employees
  • Keep tools open
  • Only restrict or control when necessary
  • Don’t make decisions that affect your organization based on hype about things that happen on the open Web.

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