Wednesday, September 25, 2002

I'm sick and tired of HR getting F#%ked

That's right. A certain website that goes by that illustrious name has been feeding off of stolen HR memos, documents and emails. The stolen information is always company confidential and includes detailed information on HR issues such as upcoming RIFs, new Diversity initiatives,employee benefits information and salary freezes. Each of these HR documents are published, held up for ridicule by a group of low lifes and then viewed by hundreds of thousands of people.

Enough is enough. The website was an interesting novelty during the beginning of the dotcom crash but now it has gotten completely out of control. Stolen documents are not anything to laugh about. When are we as HR professionals going to do something to stop this? This is clearly something that HR needs to address because it's the Human Resource Department memos that tend to be the target of this abuse.

The latest fiasco involves the salary list of 450 employees from Terra/Lycos. To read about it CLICK HERE. The list is reported to provide full names in alphabetical order plus the current salary information for each employee. Can you imagine the damage this could inflict on your organization if all of the salary information was suddenly made available to each and every one of your employees?

I hate to even write about this for fear of giving this creep any more publicity but it's time to get this stopped once and for all. Surely there must be some legal case that could be made against the owner of this website. He is, after all, posting company confidential information. If there are any lawyers out there that have some ideas, send me an email at bncarvin@nobscot.com.

My own ideas are as follows:

What can be done?
1) If you are the target, get your legal counsel involved and go after him for more than just removing the offending documents. The damage is done after the first few days of publication. Removing the information will not repair the damage that has been done to your company reputation and the dampened morale of your employees. Perhaps being court ordered to pay $1.5 million might make this self-proclaimed "Pud" think twice about his business model.

2) Let all of your employees know that all memos, emails and documents are company confidential and should not be shared outside of the company. Set a 0 tolerance policy and make it clear that offenders will be disciplined up to and including termination. Remind employees that even after they leave the company they are obligated not to disclose confidential information. Let them know the severe ramifications of their actions.

3) Copyright every one of your internal documents by placing the copyright C symbol and the date with the words: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Note that I am not an attorney and this is not meant to be taken as legal advice. I might be completely off on my advice but HR folks have to do something to better protect themselves and their companies.

Beth C.

3 Comments:

Blogger Dutch said...

Beth,
Initially, the damage for knowing the salaries of employees will be severe. Yet, Lycos could also turn this fiasco into a management coup.

A few years back there was a movement for Open Books Management. It must have been a fad from the dotcom era. Still, from an OD perspective, open books makes sense. I imagine it working this way. Raises would be discussed openly from top to bottom of the organization using a 360 approach.

Wouldn't an open books management philosophy eliminate meaningless performance reviews by managers who don't really know how well an associate is performing?

In a sense would serve as an excellent way to communicate achievement and norm up poor performance or motivation creating multiple interdependencies and social networks within the corporate structure, possibly leading to a flat, flexible, lean organizational structure and culture.

I think it would seriously impact on union negotiations and I think a CEO would no longer have to justify his salary to the BoD but to the employees all the way down the hierarchy.

On the financial side, employees would also know when and why raises are not going to happen due to good or poor business environments and competitive pressures. I think they would much prefer this philosophy over the one frequently used that dictates the range of raises based upon the inflation rate.

It does give an "out of the box" approach to a system of thought that was started in the industrial age and has severe repercussions for the knowledge worker economy that is coming our way.

Great Optimism,

9:02 AM, September 12, 2004  
Blogger B. N. Carvin said...

I don't know about that, Dutch. I have seen so much damage in HR departments due to each HR employee having access to co-workers (peers and supervisors) salary and raise information. It's hard for people to overcome their feelings that things are not being doled out fairly based on competence, effort, etc. No one is ever going to be satisfied that every one is being paid appropriately. It's a huge distraction.

Beth C.

10:07 AM, September 14, 2004  
Blogger Dutch said...

Beth,
Let not fear of the short-term consequences hinder the benefits for the long-term health of the organization and its internal working relationships.

Certainly, when these periodic eruptions occur case-by-case there will also be periodic disruptions to accompany them.

Still, can we not envision a culture that is always up front and open about pay, bonuses, and merit raises to its staff? I believe this type of practice would be tremendous communication tool to the staff and executives.

For example, a housekeeper could decrease the raise to a executive because they do not acknowledege them with a "Hello" when he pulls the trash.

Open books would promote the egalitarian workplace that has been promised but not delivered to mid-level managers and line staff.

Besides, despite HR policy, people still compare salaries in the workplace and use them to judge their place in the pecking order, no?

1:17 PM, September 14, 2004  

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