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UK firms lack social media policies

24 Jun 2011 3:38 BST Back
UK firms lack social media policies

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Most UK businesses are not providing employees with clear guidance on the use of social media, according to a new study.

Research company ICM surveyed more than 1,000 employees. Of those questioned, 39% said their employer had no guidance policy in place and a further 24% weren’t aware of any such policies.

This leaves organisations exposed to security risks and damage to their reputation. Social media usage in the workplace has grown enormously in recent years with more than half (51%) of workers surveyed now claiming to engage with a social networking site at work. Almost a third (30%) of workers use sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn on a daily basis, while more than 5% do so several times an hour.

Jonathan Wyatt, managing director, Protiviti UK, which commissioned the survey said, “We’re seeing a growing number of cases where firms have vague or out-of-date social media policies that are unenforceable if inappropriate activity takes place. It’s extremely worrying that only a quarter of workers have been provided with any real guidance regarding the use of social media sites.”

Unsurprisingly, workers aged 18-24 years are the most regular users of social networking sites, with one in five (21%) claiming to engage with them several times an hour. This generational divide in the workplace poses a threat to firms with senior managers often unaware of whether their company’s HR and IT policies are adequate.

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

Although more than a third (35%) of UK employees say that social media activity is not allowed in the workplace, this is an unsustainable policy as staff are still able to access social networks from home, posing the same potential risks to the company’s brand.

Posted by Neil Turner

The DMA Social Media Council has produced a white paper on staff use of social media policy.

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