Around three in five firms encourage their employees to use social media networks such as, Facebook and LinkedIn for work purposes. However, one in five employees has landed themselves in trouble for comments made about fellow employees or the company, whilst using the social networks during office hours.
DLA Piper, who offer legal services throughout the UK, conducted a survey of how businesses use social media at work. The survey results suggested that 76 per cent of respondents used social media in the office and at work. Facebook was the most popular social network with 86 per cent, followed by LinkedIn with 78 per cent and Twitter had 62 per cent.
Alan Chalmers, Head of Sheffield’s DLA Piper’s employment practice, expressed: “The use of social media is undoubtedly an ongoing challenge for employers. Whilst it provides businesses with a number of new platforms from which to interact with customers, it also presents significant risks if not handled properly internally.”
Out of the people surveyed; 31 per cent of employers have taken some sort of disciplinary action against an employee for the content that they posted on a social media network about their organisation. Also 21 per cent of employees have taken action for the content of posted about a fellow employee.
Speaking of the results, Kate Hodgkiss, Partner in one of DLA Piper’s employment practice’s, stated: “The rise of social media in the early 2000s has more recently filtered through to the work environment and changed business attitudes to communication; with this new opportunity also comes new risk.”
“Almost a third of our respondents have been forced to take action against employees because of information posted online about their organisation, and a fifth because of information posted about another individual. There is also widespread recognition that social media is not just a tool for marketing, but something that needs to be considered by all aspects of a business; from HR, to risk, to the upper echelons of corporate management.”
So what can businesses do to protect themselves against negative social media practices? Organisations should have in effect a dedicated policy for social media. Out of the people surveyed, 75 per cent didn’t have a policy in force for social media misuse.
Miss Hodgkiss highlighted the need for organisations to enforce a policy to protect themselves in the future: “Our respondents recognised the benefits of social media to get their messages out to a wide audience, at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods and far more quickly. But businesses need to understand how to minimise the risks. The study highlights that many are failing to protect themselves against the legal ramifications, as social networking practices outpace business policies. The research highlights the growing need for a definitive social media policy which is regularly assessed and updated.”
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