Facebook lands staff in trouble

Alan Chalmers, head of employment at DLA Piper in Sheffield.
Alan Chalmers, head of employment at DLA Piper in Sheffield.
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A THIRD of firms have disciplined staff for misusing company information, according to a survey which shows employers are failing to keep pace with social media at work.

Almost three out of five firms encouraged the use of sites like Facebook and LinkeIn for work, but comments about fellow employees landed staff in trouble at one in five of them.

And only one firm in four in the survey had a stand-alone social media policy, according research for law firm DLA Piper.

Alan Chalmers, head of DLA Piper’s employment practice in Sheffield, said: “The use of social media is undoubtedly an ongoing challenge for employers.

“Whilst it provides businesses with a number of new platforms from which to interact with customers, it also presents significant risks if not handled properly internally.

“Given it is increasingly becoming embedded in commercial operations, what is more surprising is that relatively few businesses are protecting themselves from the legal ramifications that can arise as a result of social networking sites.”

More than three quarters of firms in the survey have a social media presence, primarily to raise brand awareness and for marketing purposes, but also for recruitment and to communicate and engage with employees.

Facebook was most popular, followed by LinkedIn and Twitter.

“Whilst they are incredibly useful tools for marketing purposes and for communicating a company’s message quickly and cost-effectively, it is essential that businesses recognise the potential adverse impact that sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook can have on an organisation and its brand,” Mr Chalmers added.

“Our research highlights a clear need for employers to implement comprehensive social media policies which are then regularly reviewed and enforced.”

The DLA Piper report, called Knowing your tweet from your trend: keeping pace with social media in the workplace, is available at www.dlapipershiftinglandscapes.com.