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More than 75% of Businesses Use Social Media, Nearly Half Don't Have Social Networking Policies

Source: Proskauer Rose

Posted on 15 Jul 2011

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Nearly half of all businesses do not have social media and networking policies in place, despite the fact that 76 percent use social networking for business purposes, according to a survey by Proskauer’s International Labor & Employment Group of more than 120 multinational employers. In addition, 43 percent of the respondents have reported employee misuse of social networks.
“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 Betsy Plevan, co-head of Proskauer’s International Labor & Employment Group. “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,” said Daniel Ornstein, a London-based Partner in the International Labor & Employment Group. “Although this 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.”
The survey, which was initiated in June, asked 10 questions aimed at capturing current attitudes and practices concerning social media in the workplace. Questions ranged from “Do you think it is an advantage or disadvantage to your business to allow employees access to social networking sites while at work for business use and non-business use?” to “Do you actively block access to social networking sites at work?” to “Has your business ever had to take disciplinary action against an employee in relation to misuse of social networks?”.
Key takeaways:
    •    More than three-quarters (76 percent) of businesses use social networking for business.
    •    Of the businesses that use social networking for business, 70 percent only started doing so in the last three years.
    •    Twenty-nine percent of businesses actively block employees’ access to social networking sites. Only 27 percent monitor employee use of social networking sites.
    •    Forty-three 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.
    •    Despite the widespread use and misuse of social networking at work, 45 percent of all businesses still do not have social networking policies.
Survey participants included in-house counsel, executives and HR professionals across a broad range of businesses, many of which have a global presence and are clients of Proskauer.
Accompanying the survey results is a summary of developing law around the world. Different jurisdictions take different approaches to workplace use of social media. In order to provide an overview of the current position, which is developing rapidly, Proskauer provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions across the following jurisdictions: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, The Netherlands, Spain and the United Arab Emirates. 
The Proskauer International Labor & Employment Law Group, with members in the firm’s offices across the United States and in Paris and London as well as close cooperative relationships with law firms in Europe, South America, Asia and Australia, provides the best regional representation and keeps a careful watch over the trends and new developments that affect clients around the globe.