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Herman Trend Alert: Employers Cracking Down on Personal Use of Social Media

Social media has a tremendous power to create business, and it has the potential for creating public relations havoc. Employers across the globe face the challenging issue of controlling the use of social media in the workplace.

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Herman Trend Alerts are written by Joyce Gioia, a strategic business futurist, Certified Management Consultant, author, and professional speaker. Archived editions are posted at http://www.hermangroup.com/archive.html

Social media has a tremendous power to create business, and it has the potential for creating public relations havoc. Employers across the globe face the challenging issue of controlling the use of social media in the workplace. Almost everyone these days is either on Facebook or Twitter, or both. It is easy to imagine how this social media activity could interfere with the time people need to be productive at work. Moreover, it is not hard to imagine how this involvement could expand from peoples’ private lives into their work environments.

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Thus, employers face the problem that an increasing number of people are engaging in social media activities in the workplace. Employers have mixed feelings about this phenomenon. New research from Proskauer’s International Labor & Employment Group explores this challenging issue.

Remarkably, 48.3 percent of companies allow all employees access to social networking sites, 26.7 percent of companies offer access for a select group of employees, and a quarter ban personal use of social networks entirely.

At the same time, more than three-quarters (76 percent) of businesses use social networking for business. Of those, 70 percent only started doing so in the past three years.

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While 29 percent of businesses actively block employees’ access to social networking sites, only 27 percent monitor employee use of these sites.

Not surprisingly, 43 percent of businesses have dealt with employee misuse of social networks and nearly a third of all businesses have taken disciplinary action against employees in relation to misuse of social networks. However, here’s the surprising part: in spite of widespread use and misuse of social networking at work, 45 percent of all businesses still do not have social networking policies.

Proskauer surveyed a variety of participants, including in-house counsel, executives and HR professionals across a broad range of businesses, including their clients, many of which have a global presence.

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Expect more employers to embrace the positive power of social networking and to create increasingly stronger policies to protect their companies. The downside is too great for them not to take action.

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