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Growing number of employers use social media - with no policies to manage it

HR Editorial , 18 Jul 2011

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Nearly half of all businesses do not have social media and networking policies in place, despite the fact that three quarters use social networking for business purposes, according to a survey by law firm Proskauer’s international labour and employment group of more than 120 multinational employers.

In addition, the survey, published on Friday found 43% of the respondents have reported employee misuse of social networks. Betsy Plevan, co-head of Proskauer's international labour and employment group, said: "In order to harness the benefits and minimize the risks of social networks, employers need to set distinct and specific policies and practices for their use. Relying on employees to exercise good judgment is simply not enough." The survey, which was initiated in June, asked 10 questions aimed at capturing current attitudes and practices concerning social media in the workplace.

Questions ranged from "Do you think it is an advantage or disadvantage to your business to allow employees access to social networking sites while at work for business use and non-business use?" to "Do you actively block access to social networking sites at work?" to "Has your business ever had to take disciplinary action against an employee in relation to misuse of social networks?".

More than three-quarters (76 percent) of businesses use social networking for business but, of the businesses that use social networking for business, 70% only started doing so in the last three years.

Twenty-nine percent of businesses actively block employees' access to social networking sites. Only 27% monitor employee use of social networking sites.

Forty-three percent of businesses have dealt with employee misuse of social networks and nearly a third of all businesses have taken disciplinary action against employees in relation to misuse of social networks.

Despite the widespread use and misuse of social networking at work, 45% of all businesses still do not have social networking policies.

Survey participants included in-house counsel, executives and HR professionals across a broad range of businesses, many of which have a global presence and are clients of Proskauer. Accompanying the survey results is a summary of developing law around the world. Different jurisdictions take different approaches to workplace use of social media. In order to provide an overview of the current position, which is developing rapidly, Proskauer provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions across the following jurisdictions: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, The Netherlands, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.

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Interesting article

Alison Scammell 18 Jul 2011

You can't stop people communicating. If you impose restrictions on communication channels, people will simply find a better way to exercise their freedom of speech, their freedom of thought, their freedom.

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