“Business leaders and boards, at a time like this, have to really be more cognizant of how their reputations get built online and how to harness it and be transparent,” said Leslie Gaines-Ross, the chief reputation strategist at WS. “Realize that it can be an opportunity as well as a risk.”
Risky Business: Reputations Online surveyed more than 700 senior executives worldwide and found that 66% of those surveyed were either unaware or did not want to admit that employees badmouth their companies online. Social networks have increased such employee grievances, the survey suggested.
"Certainly as the economy spirals downward, and we're all experiencing layoffs, it actually increases risks to some of these companies' reputations because employees who are laid off are going online and chatting about it," Gaines-Ross said. "What are they saying about how [the layoffs were] done? It can impact the credibility and authenticity of the leaders."
Additionally, misdirected e-mails can spread internal information beyond the company's walls, also affecting reputation. Of those surveyed, 87% said they have erroneously sent or received an e-mail, text, or Twitter message.