Interns and internet


In this article we are discussing on a new HR problem which is a poser to the companies as to how to prevent the wrong usage of the company’s name even by interns.

On the first day of his internship last year, Johnson created a web site for himself. It never occurred to him that his bosses might not like his naming it after the firm and writing about what went on their office.

For him, the web log he created, ‘I’m a Comedy Central Intern,’ was merely a way to tell his friends of his activities and to practice his humor writing. For Comedy Central, it was a corporate no-no. Comedy Central asked him to change the name (He did to ‘I’m an Intern in New York’) and to stop revealing how its brand of comedic sausage is stuffed.

This is the time of year when thousands of interns and new employees pour into the workplace from college campuses, many bringing with them an innocence and nonchalance about workplace rules and corporate culture. Most experienced employees know: Thou Shall Not Blab about the Company’s Internal Business. But the line between what is public and what is private is increasingly fuzzy for young people comfortable with broadcasting nearly every aspect of their lives on the web, posting pictures of their grandmother at graduation next to one of them eating whipped cream off a woman’s belly. For them, shifting from a like-minded audience of peers to an intergenerational, hierarchical workplace can be jarring.

Companies are beginning to recognize the schism and, prodded by their legal and public relations departments, are starting to adopt policies that address it. While there are differences in laws among jurisdictions, from a legal perspective, he said, it is accepted that firms have the right to impose controls on their employees’ use of computers and other equipment used for communication.

As for content information generated within a company the law also allows employers to set limits, even on airing the company laundry outside the office.

Viacom, the parent company of Comedy Central, now has an explicit policy. In a section on confidentiality, it states that the employee is “ it states that the employee is “discouraged from publicly discussing work-related matters, whether constituting confidential information or not, outside of appropriate work channels, including online in chat rooms or “Blogs�

The problem for the employers is that, in a few highly publicized cases, public airing of workplace shenanigans has proved to be lucrative and young people entering the workplace know it.

The generation entering the work world has noticed. “Everybody I’ve read about that got fired for having a blog is on to such great things,� said Kelly Kreth, 36, who was fired from her job as the marketing and public relations director at a real estate firm in Manhattan for blogging about her co-workers. I’ve had my online diary for six years, and it is very important to me, Kreth said, calling the firing the best thing that happened to her. It led to me opening my own business and making triple what I was making before.

Corporations have been slower to get the message. The vast majority of organizations don’t have policies in place, said Jennifer Schramm, a work place trends and forecasting manager at the Society for Human Resource Management in Washington.

The group found in 2005 that only 8% of the 404HR professionals polled had blogging policies, while 85% did not. (The other 7% did not know).

This is a new HR problem arising in modern companies and a fool proof solution is yet to be found out, At present the companies are safe guarding policies on an ad hoc way.

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