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February 13, 2006Press Release

Blogging and the American Workplace

As Work-Related Web Blogs Proliferate, New National Survey Finds Few Employers Prepared for Blogging Impact

5% of workers polled by the Employment Law Alliance say they maintain a blog

Milwaukee, WI – Web blogs are booming, but the latest survey conducted by the Employment Law Alliance (ELA) is reporting that while millions of workers – perhaps as many as 5 percent of the American workforce -- are maintaining the online personal diaries, only about 15 percent of employers have specific policies addressing work-related blogging.

Scott Beightol, a partner and member of the Management Committee at the law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich and ELA CFO and Board Member, says, “While work-related blogging has not been of major concern, that’s changing.  An increasing number of often disgruntled employees are blogging in an attempt to get back at an employer. If a company wants to try to control blogging, it had better implement a proactive policy.  In the absence of a policy, disciplining an employee is more problematic.”

Beightol says blog-related issues cover a broad spectrum well beyond concerns by employers over the web-posting of company secrets.  “For example, can the employer regulate off-duty blogging because they believe the content injures the company’s reputation, is embarrassing to the company, or disparages the company’s products, management or customers?  There is intense debate over blogs, but no debate over the need to have clear blogging policies,” he adds. The practice of firing a worker for what is deemed inappropriate blogging, notes Beightol, even has its own name, doocing (named for a fired worker who maintains the www.dooce.com website).

The Employment Law Alliance said the telephone poll of 1,000 adults, with a confidence interval of +/- 4 percent, was conducted earlier this year.  Besides finding that 5 percent of American workers maintain personal blogs and that only 15 percent of their employers have a policy directly addressing blogging activities, it also revealed that:

 MICHAEL BEST / ADD ONE

  • 59% of employees believe employers should be allowed to discipline or terminate workers who post confidential or proprietary information concerning the employer
  • 55% think employers should be allowed to discipline or terminate employees who post damaging, embarrassing, negative information about the employer
  • 23% support fellow workers  being free to post criticism or satire about employers, co-workers, supervisors, customers, or clients without fear of discipline


Of the employees polled who work for a company with a blogging policy:

  • 62% say the policy prohibits posting any employer-related information
  • 60% say the policy discourages employees from criticizing or making negative commentsagainst the employer
  • 58% say the regulations deal with all blogging regardless of content.


Dr. Ted Reed, President of the Reed Group, LLC, a Philadelphia-based research firm and Survey Director for ELA, says the poll is indicative of a steady growth in adult blogging. 

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