Nearly 70 percent of companies have no policies or guidelines in place for employee bloggers—a clear liability for companies and a source of risk for the bloggers themselves, according to a new white paper published by Edelman in partnership with Intelliseek, provider of one of the Internet’s leading blog portals.

“We have clear evidence that consumers and other important stakeholders make decisions about products and brands based largely on what a company’s employees say about them,” says Christopher Hannegan senior vice president and director of Edelman’s employee engagement practice. “Now blogs provide these same employees with access to a mass audience as never before.

“So companies need to understand that two powerful forces are beginning to converge in way that will have a direct and growing impact on their business.”

A recent Intelliseek study also reveals that up to 9 percent of people have posted to blogs (others or their own) to comment on or defend their employer. And over a recent six-month period, blog postings with the phrase or derivative of “love my job” outnumbered those with “hate work” by about 2-to-1 and outnumbered those with “hate my boss” by about 4-to-1.

Employee blogs have helped enhance the reputation of employers in many instances (the white paper cites Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Stonyfield Farms as expamples) but have also hurt reputations in the case of several high-profile firings (Google, Delta Air Lines, Waterstone’s and Friendster).

“Employees can be critical builders of brand equity or chronic destroyers of it, and blogs speed up that process rapidly,” says Pete Blackshaw, Intelliseek’s CMO and co-founder of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. “Corporate communications professionals and senior executives need to come to grips with this new reality and learn to operate in this fast-changing blog environment.”