U.K. companies at risk from inadequate social media policies: Survey

Senior managers often unaware policies out of date
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 06/28/2011

The majority of employees in the United Kingdom have notbeen provided with clear guidance on using social media networking sites,according to a study from Protiviti, a business consulting and internal auditfirm.

Of those with access in the workplace, almost 39 per centindicated there is no policy in place regarding social media networking and 24per cent are unaware of any such policies, found the survey of 1,038 adults.

“The global social media landscape has changed sodramatically and so quickly that many companies are struggling to keep up.We’re seeing a growing number of cases where firms have vague or out-of-datesocial media policies that are unenforceable if inappropriate activity takesplace,” said Jonathan Wyatt, managing director at Protiviti UK.

Social media usage in the workplace has grown enormously inrecent years, according to Protivity, with more 51 per cent of workers claimingto engage with a social networking site while at work. Almost one-third (30 percent) of workers use sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn on a dailybasis, while more than five per cent do so several times an hour. 

Workers aged 18-24 years are the most regular users ofsocial networking sites, with one in five (21 per cent) claiming to engage withthem several times an hour. This generational divide in the workplace poses athreat to firms as senior managers are often unaware of whether their company’sHR and IT policies are adequate, said Protiviti.

“Many senior managers assume that their less experiencedcolleagues would not post inappropriate comments online and that they wouldthink about the risks involved, but time and time again they are proven wrong,”said Wyatt.

While 35 per cent of U.K. employees said social mediaactivity is not allowed in the workplace, staff are still able to access socialnetworks from home, posing the same potential risks to the company’s brand.

“We recommend that companies have very clear policiestargeted at issues specific to social networking,” said Wyatt. “For instance,they should consider providing guidelines regarding the sharing on Facebook ofphotographs from corporate events and measures to mitigate potentialaccusations of favouritism resulting from a senior manager linking to oneemployee but not to another. Likewise, guidance should be provided as to when ablog might be perceived to be a corporate forum.”

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