Beware the Valentine e-mail.
That is the red flag message being sent to employers from Nancy
Flynn, executive director of The ePolicy Institute in Columbus,
Flynn has advice on how employers can prevent Valentine's Day
cyberlove disasters and protect employees from actions that can
savage careers. She recommends using written e-policies to prohibit
employees from sending romantic e-mail and downloading pornographic
Internet images. Flynn is the author of The ePolicy Handbook,
published in January.
"Written e-policies help employers control content, behavior, and
eliabilities," said Flynn, who speaks in the popular new elanguage.
"For responsible organizations operating in the age of electronic
communication, an e-policy is indispensable."
"With 130 million U.S. workers sending 2.8 billion e-mails daily,
the likelihood of employees sending inappropriate e-Valentines is
huge," she said.
But for those in the workplace who still cannot resist sending
cyberlove notes, she offers a few tips.
* Beware hidden readers.
A cupid's arrow sent through cyberspace may be the quickest way
to express love, but it's hardly the safest. An inaccurate keystroke
or your beloved's decision to forward your message could take a
private relationship public.
* Write as though mom were reading.
Many people treat e-mail too casually, writing messages they'd
never put on paper. Don't write anything you wouldn't say aloud to
colleagues, customers, and competitors.
* Compose yourself before composing your e-mail.
No matter how great your passion, think before you write. Once
you push send, your e-mail is on its way through cyberspace and
probably can't be retrieved.
* Keep the end in sight.
No matter how much you love and trust your partner, consider the
consequences of private notes becoming public. Don't write anything
that could one day come back to haunt you.
* Protect your reputation and career. Adhere to your
organization's policies or risk disciplinary action and termination.
Flynn says 27 percent of Fortune 500 companies have battled
sexual harassment claims stemming from employee misuse and abuse of
corporate e-mail and Internet systems.
Employers eager to limit liabilities should implement written
policies that clearly spell out what is -- and is not -- allowed to
be communicated via the organization's e-mail and Internet systems,
In addition, employers should use written policies to give
employees explicit notice that they do not have a reasonable
expectation of privacy, she said. Employers should notify employees
in writing that the organization has the right to monitor anything
that is transmitted or stored on its e-mail and Internet systems,
and that management intends to exercise that right.
Red is changing
Red is the color most associated with Valentine's Day, but red is
"This year's red is more intense than previous years and has a
very warm feel," says Jennifer Shoff, a designer for the Valentine's
Day line at American Greetings. …