W-2 Theft and Troublesome Social Media Posts Among 2017’s Most-Read Tech Articles

Aliah D. Wright By Aliah D. Wright December 19, 2017

The theft of employee W-2 forms, the debut of sensors placed under office desks to monitor workspaces, and how social media posts are still landing employees in hot water were the topics that led SHRM Online's technology coverage in 2017.

When Hackers Attack
Warnings about not falling prey to W-2 scams have been a theme for the past two years—and will likely continue in 2018. This issue was the subject of the most-read HR tech article of 2017.

HR professionals fell for the scam in 2016 and 2017 after hackers posing as company executives sent them spoofed or faked e-mails requesting employee tax forms. Between January and March of 2016, more than 55 organizations were tricked into e-mailing criminals sensitive payroll information. Some HR professionals were fired after they revealed the private information.

The video below shows how to handle W-2 phishing scams.


Big Brother's Not Watching—Your Boss Is

Another article that resonated with readers in 2017 reported on companies that were watching their employees, and the technology they were using to do so. Companies across the globe are attaching special sensors beneath their employees' desks to monitor office space usage and reduce real estate costs.

But many employees have balked at OccupEye, the small black monitoring device placed under employees' workstations. Some have claimed the devices are an invasion of

privacy; others have wondered why their employers have them under surveillance.

Another article readers liked centered on employees' expectation of privacy when it comes to their smartphone. Workplace law experts told SHRM Online that under most circumstances it isn't illegal for an employer to monitor its employees' activity on e-mail and the Internet. However, as more employees use their own devices for work purposes, employers need bring-your-own-device guidelines. A company policy should note that personal devices used for work can be searched by employers either during employment or at termination.


[SHRM members-only toolkit: Managing Workplace Monitoring and Surveillance]


Social Media Missteps  
Articles about the funny, puzzling and downright horrific things people do on social media that have cost them their jobs drew a lot of readers this year. That's because HR professionals are often responsible for handling the fallout after an employee has posted something provocative online.

Rewire.org reported that that 17 percent of employers have fired an employee because of his or her social media posts. Experts say that HR professionals should, by the existence of a company policy or through training, make it clear to employees that their activities on social media may not only damage their reputations but can cost them their jobs.

In one article, an HR professional pondered what to do after discovering an employee also worked in the porn industry. The question was posted on SHRM Connect, an online discussion portal for SHRM members. Most people commenting on the post suggested taking no action. Experts' advice varied.

Despite the risk that employers may see egregious things on their employees' social accounts, more people are following their colleagues on social media. However, fewer senior managers are comfortable with connecting with colleagues on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

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