Social Media Still Frowned Upon in the Workplace: Study

By Erin Harrison September 07, 2011

Although the use of social media has become much more accepted in the workplace – and in some cases even encouraged – mixed emotions still run rampant, as a recent study finds that some employers are cracking down on access to social media sites.

According to recent research from Proskauer’s International Labor & Employment Group, about 25 percent of companies still ban the use of social networks entirely. Meanwhile, 48.3 percent of companies allow all employees access to social networking sites and 26.7 percent of companies offer access for a select group of employees.

The research also found that 43 percent of businesses have dealt with employee misuse of social networks and nearly one-third of all businesses have taken disciplinary action against employees in relation to misuse of social networks.

However, what’s surprising is that in spite of “widespread” use and misuse of social networking at work, nearly half (45 percent) of businesses still do not have social networking policies.

Betsy Plevan, co-head of Proskauer’s International Labor & Employment Group, emphasized the importance of employers to set social media policies and said they cannot rely on employees to simply exercise good judgment.

“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” said Plevan. “Relying on employees to exercise good judgment is simply not enough.”

The business world is experiencing an ongoing and rapid proliferation in the use of social networking, according to Daniel Ornstein, a London-based Partner in the International Labor & Employment Group, pointing out that viral tweets and social network posts have the potential to cause significant damage to a company’s reputation.

“Although [social media] has many benefits, hardly a week goes by without yet another new story of a viral tweet or posting that has the potential to damage the reputation of a business, underscoring the need for companies to be proactive in this area,” Ornstein said.

Participants in the Proskauer survey include a cross-section of employees, including in-house counsel, executives, and HR professionals across a broad range of businesses, many of which have a global presence and are their clients.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.

Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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