To censor or not to censor?
Trust is an important value within an organization. Employees should be able to trust colleagues and the company itself, but it is even more important that companies trust their personnel. Censorship bans and other restrictions are aspects regulated by internal rules in most corporations, but even so, these actions indicate a lack of reliance towards employees.
The most frequent censorship nowadays is related to the internet, mainly regarding websites and social media. Banning online access sends a message to employees that they are not trusted to be responsible towards accomplishing their work.
Such formalities, as censoring certain web pages, could negatively impact employee engagement, satisfaction, retention and fluctuation KPIs within an organization. This occurs due to the fact that employees might give an unexpected meaning to the banning, considering that they are being limited and their liberty is diminished within the company. Therefore, employees will become more attracted for opportunities where they can encounter less restraints.
The issue is not that employees cannot actually access certain sites, because most of them are using personal smartphones or other gadgets that would allow them to visit the banned websites. The matter, from their perspective, is the fact that the company does not confide in them. Furthermore, based on the principle that not seeing information, means not knowing and lagging behind, censoring is also associated with an imposed form of ignorance. Topicality is a relevant aspect no matter the industry or the area one activates in and often key information or key work related materials are available on online knowledge repositories which require internet access.
An even bigger issue can result in cases in which internet access is allowed differently among colleagues or peers within the same organization. In order to avoid or to combat such situations, it is recommended to apply the same rules and regulations within related departments or among colleagues with similar functions.
Restrictions not related to the virtual space are generally imposed for health and environment safety or through a state’s legislation. Companies are advised to implement additional limitations with caution and awareness of the fact that the more constrained employees are in the work place, the more likely they are to construct conspiratorial ideas regarding the organizational activities. These ideas are based on the belief that the company is hiding something from its employees and that may lead to discussions on why this secretive policy is implemented. Therefore, a high degree of transparency in all areas is the way to nurture a relationship of mutual trust between an organization and its employees.
Extreme restrictions can become pitfalls that organizations set for themselves due to interpretations and limits they come with. Instead of engaging and investing efforts in censoring, employers also have the possibility to enhance access. Furthermore, business owners can take into consideration how significantly full internet access can boost their processes, in areas such as recruitment, e-commerce, direct marketing and branding, customers, contacts and suppliers.
- Kalathil, S. (2010), Internet freedom: A background paper
- Leberknight, C. S., Poor, H. V., Chiang, M. and Wong, F. (2010), A Taxonomy of internet censorship and anti-censorship
- Sturges, P. (2007), From fighting censorship to promoting transparency
- Alexandra Blaga, 2014