Study Shows Companies Prohibit Social Networking on the Job

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A recent survey by Robert Half Technology shows that many companies with 100 or more employees prohibit the use of networks likes Facebook or Twitter during work hours. Employees who want to use these networks have to wait until after hours or risk violating company policies. RHT interviewed more than 1,400 chief information officers (CIOs) from companies across US. More than half (54 percent) of these said their firms do not allow employees to visit social networking sites for any reason while at work.

CIOs were asked, “Which of the following most closely describes your company’s policy on visiting social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, while at work?”

Their responses:

  • Prohibited completely 54%
  • Permitted for business purposes only 19%
  • Permitted for limited personal use 16%
  • Permitted for any type of personal use 10%
  • Don’t know/no answer 1%

“Using social networking sites may divert employees’ attention away from more pressing priorities, so it’s understandable that some companies limit access,” said Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology. “For some professions, however, these sites can be leveraged as effective business tools, which may be why about one in five companies allows their use for work-related purposes.”

Robert Half Technology also offered some professional tips for those who are employed in a strict environment, but want to use social networking sites:

  • Know what’s allowed. Make sure you understand and adhere to your company’s social networking policy.
  • Use caution. Be familiar with each site’s privacy settings to ensure personal details or photos you post can be viewed only by people you choose.
  • Keep it professional. Use social networking sites while at work to make connections with others in your field or follow industry news — not to catch up with family or friends.
  • Stay positive. Avoid complaining about your manager and coworkers. Once you’ve hit submit or send, you can’t always take back your words — and there’s a chance they could be read by the very people you’re criticizing.
  • Polish your image. Tweet or blog about a topic related to your profession. You’ll build a reputation as a subject matter expert, which could help you advance in your career.
  • Monitor yourself. Even if your employer has a liberal policy about social networking, limit the time you spend checking your Facebook page or reading other people’s tweets to avoid a productivity drain.

These tips are vital, knowing that companies are already firing staff for social media misuse. Employee fired for social media misuse - Facebook example.

In August this year a Proofpoint survey revealed that 13 percent of US companies investigated an exposure event involving mobile or Web-based short message services in the past 12 months, and concerning social networks, US companies experienced more exposure incidents involving sites like Facebook and LinkedIn as compared to 2008 (17 percent versus 12 percent).

The survey reported that US companies are taking a much more forceful approach with offending employees — eight percent reported terminating an employee for such a violation.

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