Is it an Ethical Dilemma Waiting to Happen?
Vlogging is an important way of expressing yourself in the workplace. The following guest blog is by Jane Sandwood.
Over 44% of internet users watch vlogs every single month. And, in light of their popularity, many have taken to vlogging wherever they happen to be, whether it be in the middle of an airport, at home, or elsewhere. However, when it comes to vlogging at work, the question of ethics brings a lot to the table in terms of privacy and other important issues, like company reputation. With that in mind, here are the pros and cons involved — and whether or not a middle ground can be found.
Challenges of Vlogging in the Workplace
While it’s often regarded as a distraction, there are a number of unique benefits that can come from allowing an employee to vlog while at work. For example, a workplace vlog can give the public an insider’s look at your company and its values, can update and educate everyone on big changes within the workplace (such as when it comes to becoming more inclusive), and can aid in relaying a business’ message to the public. This can work to build a transparent relationship between a company, its employees, and the public.
While there are a number of benefits in allowing vlogging within the workplace, it can also present a variety of potential ethical dilemmas. Privacy is just one of them — for instance, other employees may not wish to appear on camera, thus creating an uncomfortable workspace for some. The privacy of the business could be also violated should confidential information be shared, which was the case of one former Walmart employee who was fired for posting sensitive business information online, which was in violation of company policy. Another prominent ethical issue can arise from the content of an employee’s vlog. When filmed in the workplace and showing employees in company uniform, negative/offensive language, or actions (such as racist behavior) will reflect poorly on the company.
A Reflection on the Company
It’s important to take into account that the actions of any staff can have a major impact on a company’s reputation. For instance, a company is likely to get positive reactions from the public should an employee mention the company’s support for a reputable charity or worthy cause during their vlog. However, on the other hand, the ethical issues involved with using media in the workplace could just as easily lead to bad press. One example can be seen in the instance of a former Sherwin-Williams employee, Tony Piloseno, who was well known for making TikTok videos of mixing paint while at work — and who was fired for using company paint on company time (even though he bought his own paint). In addition to losing a passionate and quality employee, the company also received news coverage that portrayed the business in a bad light.
Finding a Middle Ground
In taking the pros and cons of vlogging in the workplace into consideration, it’s possible that businesses can address the matter ethically and responsibly, while preserving privacy and reputation along the way. For example, establishing clear boundaries (like by having a solid social media policy that indicates where and when an employee can vlog) can go a long way towards avoiding conflict. If an employee is thinking of starting a vlog, helping out by ensuring they choose the right niche is a good idea, as it’s important that the media content respects company boundaries and reflects well on the business. By cultivating a media-positive workplace, and encouraging vlogging when appropriate, you can ensure that your company benefits from the advantages that vlogging can bring, while avoiding any negative issues.
Vlogging is becoming increasingly popular, but a number of ethical concerns are likely to be raised when it comes to filming within the workplace. While there are several pros and cons to consider, a company can still establish clear boundaries in order to preserve privacy and brand reputation, as well as reap the benefits that vlogging has to offer when it comes to creating a transparent relationship among employees, the public, and the company itself.
You can contact Jane Sandwood at: [email protected]
Posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on February 11, 2021. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage.