HR Professional - July/August 2012 - (Page 20)

FOCUS BY JOEL KRANC SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE LIMITS OF TRACKING MALFEASANCE Employe r s h ave t o wa l k a fi ne l i ne w hen m oni tori ng t heir e mp l oye e s s u s p e ct e d of m al feas anc e o matter how many times employees are told that their digital footprints remain long after they’ve deleted their emails, employers find themselves having to deal with employee malfeasance. That topic was discussed among panelists at a recent Law Society of Upper Canada lecture series in Toronto who have experienced the issues of how to legally and appropriately deal with such actions. At the onset, a fictitious malfeasance problem was discussed by the panel highlighting an employee who looked at a questionable website at work. That led to a chain N events wherein an employee in the IT department began threatening and harassing the first employee. Chris Mathers, a former police officer and current crime and risk consultant, says there are no new ideas when it comes to bad or criminal behaviour. It’s all been done before. “What technology does is it provides a method for these people to facilitate their bad behaviour and sometimes doing it through the place where they work.” Steve Kahansky, vicepresident, deputy general counsel and chief risk and privacy officer with Tim Horton’s, notes that the two issues of social media and the need for privacy, appear to be competing with one another. “You have those two forces crashing at each other and at the same time, by the virtue of the technological advances and arguably because the technological advances are growing at a more rapid pace than the law is developing—you have risk.” According to Kahansky the risks that have been created run the spectrum from harassment, to employee productivity to security of information and the list goes on. And the ways to deal with these risks, besides the technological elements that can prevent them, are the types of policies and legal constraints needed to protect the business and its employees. Meghan Ferguson, director of legal services and associate relations with the Hudson’s Bay Company, discussed the complications in monitoring employee email traffic and the problem of creating employer risk if you give other employees too much access to personal emails. “[This] can have a negative effect on employees because they will start to act disgruntled if they feel they are being violated,” said Ferguson. Therefore, she added, it is important to set expectations and policies and make sure they are absolutely crystal clear. Nobody disputes that employers should have the right, in general, to monitor or have access to employee emails, adds Kahansky. “What happens though is the test of reasonableness.” He adds it also becomes a question of “how.” How does an IT employee, for example, look at what other employees are doing in real time. Is this something that is absolutely necessary? There is, of course, the distinction between monitoring and straight prevention, notes Mathers. It’s easy to make a list of sites that employees should not visit. And the easiest way to ensure prevention is to buy software and block certain websites from being visited by employees. He encourages employers to be open with HR P R OF E S S I ON A L 20 J u l y / A u g u s t 2 0 1 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of HR Professional - July/August 2012

Editor's Letter
Leadership Matters
The End of Reviews as We Know Them
Coaching: Blazing Your Own Trail
Mentoring the Future
HR 101
Interview with an HR Hero: Sheila Rider
Off The Shelf
Technology & Privacy
The Last Word

HR Professional - July/August 2012