Staffing Management

Employers Struggle to Develop Rules, Policies Around Social Media Misuse: Survey

By Mike Tsikoudakis

Nov. 14, 2012

As social media use at the workplace has become increasingly prevalent and accepted, employers continue to struggle with ways to develop rules and policies around social media misuse, according to a survey by law firm Proskauer Rose L.L.P.

More than three-quarters of employers surveyed use social media for business purposes, a similar figure compared with last year’s results, suggesting that usage has reached a saturation point, according to the survey.

But 40 percent of the respondent employers considered social media use inside and outside of the workplace an advantage, a 10-percentage-point increase compared with 2011 results.

Employers also are increasingly monitoring social media use at the workplace, with 69 percent of the respondents indicating that they have dedicated social media policies. That compares with 55 percent in 2011.

Like last year, nearly half of the employers surveyed said they had to deal with social media misuse by employees or former employees, New York-based Proskauer said in the report, noting that one-quarter of the abuse was by former employees.

“As social media use continues to grow exponentially, it’s raising a thicket of thorny legal issues for employers,” Daniel Ornstein, London-based partner and co-head of the firm’s international labor and employment law group, said in a Nov. 14 statement accompanying the survey. “Although many companies have put in place policies governing employee social media use, there are a number of other risk management measures companies should be pursuing to safeguard their businesses while protecting their employees’ right to privacy and freedom of expression.”

Because of the level of social media misuse, Proskauer this year asked additional questions, finding that about one-third of the respondents provide social media training and 17 percent have termination provisions with express protections against social media misuse after an employee’s departure, according to the survey.

Best practices for employers navigating social media rules, policies and local and federal regulations include a dedicated and well-communicated policy on social media and a clearly stated policy on social media monitoring in the workplace, which should be limited to business purposes only, according to the survey.

The survey collected responses from 250 multinational businesses and is available here.

Mike Tsikoudakis writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.

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