5 September 2011
1 in 10 UK businesses don’t have a social media policy
Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) has unveiled the first of its guides to help British business navigate employee’s use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. One in 10 UK businesses don’t have a social media policy despite six out of 10 employees logging on at work every day.
It hopes the guide will help business establish protocols, use and behaviour both during and after work hours, and help save UK businesses billions of pounds lost each year through social media. Acas references a study by My Job Group from August 2010, which showed that misuse of the internet and social media costs the UK economy up to £14 billion per annum.
Acas has pulled its guidelines together based on research (link opens in PDF) it commissioned the Institute for Employment Studies to undertake, which featured case studies from BT and HMRC. As well as providing a guide on how to develop a social media policy, Acas has provided fact-sheets for social media on the following areas:
- Managing performance
- Discipline and grievances
- Data protection and privacy
Acas chief executive John Taylor said, “Online conduct should not differ from offline conduct. Employees should assume that everything they say on the internet could be made public, and should think whether they want their colleagues or boss to read it. They might not mean it, but what they post could end up being seen by billions of people worldwide.”
According to Acas, fewer than one in ten employers had a social media policy to guide how staff should be interacting with social media. Acas recommends that employers should spell out the dos and don’ts of using the internet and social media, and should the consequences of breaches of policy very clear. The body also suggests the policy forms part of the employee contract.
Importantly, Acas recommends that businesses do not make staff feel gagged and that their privacy is intruded upon, but such guidelines should also make staff and managers feel protected against online bullying and that the reputation of the company is protected. Acas warns they should treat carefully however, Taylor explains, “Heavy-handed monitoring can cause bad feeling and be time consuming.”
Taylor does agree that social media does have an important role to play however, “Many companies want their employees to be up to date and comfortable with internet working, as social media sites are increasingly a key part of business and marketing. Firms need to bear this in mind.”
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