U.S Adults Search for Info On Colleagues and Employees

A new study from Harris Interactive and metasearch engine Dogpile finds American adults are searching for information online about people with whom they having a working relationship, including customers, colleagues and employees.

The study finds 23 percent of U.S adults have engaged in the practice. Searching for customers led the type of individual searched for at 13 percent, followed by employees or potential hires (10 percent); co-workers (10 percent); and supervisors or potential supervisors (7 percent).

The study was conducted among 2,266 online U.S adults and almost evenly split between men and women (1,089 men and 1,177 women). The survey did find men are twice as likely as women to conduct these types of searches.

Searches for clients and customers are primarily motivated (85 percent) by the need to find a phone number or other contact information. Seeking contact information was noted as a significant factor by those who searched online for co-workers (57 percent); employees (47 percent); and supervisors (50 percent), too.

People searching for information about co-workers largely indicate (71 percent) their primary reason for conducting a search is curiosity. Twenty-two percent of those seeking information about co-workers indicate they were “checking out a rumor.” Curiosity was also indicated by 63 percent of those searching supervisors or potential supervisors, and by 52 percent of those searching employees and potential employees.

Reasons for Searching Employee
Why did you search for
information about the
following person or people?
Curiosity 52%
Researching the background
of a job candidate
Looking for specific information
(i.e. address or phone number)
Researching to find a new job
or prepare for a job interview
Checking out a rumor 21%
Other 17%
Base: Respondents who have searched
for an employee or potential employee.
Source: Harris Interactive/ Dogile

According to Adam Whinston, senior marketing manager at Dogpile’s parent company, InfoSpace, researchers were “surprised” by the high number of respondents who search online for co-workers, colleagues and employers purely out of curiosity.

“While we expected people to be looking up new job applicants, it’s surprising to see that many also look up their existing managers, colleagues and customers out of curiosity,” Whinston told ClickZ. “This shows it is important for everyone, not just job seekers, to be aware of the information that is available about them online.”

Employers don’t just use search engines to find information about their employees; they also turn to email. The “2004 Workplace E-Mail and Instant Messaging Survey,” conducted earlier this year by the ePolicy Institute and the American Marketing Association revealed 60 percent of employers monitor incoming and outgoing email with some form of software.

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