Employer Perspectives on Social Networking

A new generation, steeped in the rules and habits of the digital age, is entering the workforce in large numbers, and will soon make up the majority of employees in every company. How this generation – as well as older workers – uses social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to stay in touch with others has increased exponentially in just a few years. It is a phenomenon that is rapidly transforming the world of work.
With this in mind, Manpower Inc. (NYSE: MAN) recently surveyed over 34,000 employers in 35 countries and territories. The survey is intended to gauge employer attitudes toward the use of external social media in the workplace. Conducted in October 2009, the survey asked employers four questions:

  • Does your organization have a formal policy regarding employee use of external social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn?
  • In which of these areas has your policy been effective?
  • In what two areas do you believe external social networks can provide the biggest boost to your organization in the future?
  • Has your organization’s reputation ever been negatively affected as a result of employees’ use of social networking sites?

The global results revealed that an overwhelming three out of four employers indicated that their organizations had no formal policy regarding the use of external social networking sites in the workplace. Five percent of employers surveyed indicated they were unsure if their organizations did, in fact, have policies regulating the use of social media by employees.

However, one out of five employers responded that their organizations did have policies in place to regulate social networking in the workplace. And this number is likely to grow. Of those employers with policies in place, the vast majority (63%) indicated that these policies were most often effective in helping avoid productivity loss. Approximately four out of 10 employers indicated that policies were effective in helping protect intellectual property and other proprietary information. Only two percent of the surveyed employers indicated that their organizations’ social networking policies were not effective.

Manpower acknowledges that the risks associated with social networking in the workplace are not trivial. As the use of such sites becomes even more prevalent, Manpower believes that employers need to consider how social networking is likely to impact their organizations. After all, the widespread use of these sites by employees raises inevitable questions. For example, how can companies embrace the technology, minimize risk and unleash the potential of social networking in the workplace? And how can these sites actually serve the interestsof organizations by enhancing productivity, collaboration and innovation, while also serving to attract and engage employees? Thus Manpower recommends that organizations that are currently exploring social networking policy implementation, do so by designing guidelines that help them take maximum advantage of potential benefits.

Source: Manpower Research Centre
Full report here (direct PDF download)

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