A social media and employment research report produced by Irish law firm William Fry has revisited the now topical issue of social media usage within the workplace. The annual report outlines that 1 in 2 employees have work-related contacts on their personal social media accounts compared to 40% in 2014. However only 2% of employers have discussed the issue of work connections on social media accounts with their employees.

Commenting in the report, Catherine O’Flynn, partner in William Fry’s Employment & Benefits Practice Group said that;

“As the Irish economy continues to improve, more and more employees are moving jobs, bringing these valuable work-related connections with them to new roles. Whereas the position surrounding ownership of work-related content, such as confidential information, is usually clearly addressed in typical employment contracts, this will not be sufficient to address the issues regarding work-related contacts on social media accounts or to keep up with the rapid developments in this area.”

The research indicates that employers cannot be complacent and need to ensure they introduce and regularly review comprehensive social media guidelines. We have spoke about being cautious about what you post to social media and to be mindful of current and possible future employers, however there is also a responsibility for the workplace to ensure guidelines are introduced and adhered to.

LinkedIn has seen growth with a rising number of employees using social media to search or apply for new jobs. The research found that men (26%) are more likely to use social media to apply for a job than women (21%). Using social media for this purpose is having an impact on what employees post, 56% stating that they now think twice before posting as they know there is a chance that a prospective employer may see it. Employees at the moment spend on average of 37 minutes on personal social media accounts over the course of a working day.

Social Media in the workplace has grown over the past number of years and as a result so have the cases of disciplinary as a result of what may be posted on social media. Over the last 12 months, 15% of employees said they knew of colleagues being disciplined for misuse of social media which included:

  • 8% – Inappropriate reference to the company
  • 6% – Bullying or harassment of colleagues
  • 6% – Inappropriate comments/photos
  • 5% – Inappropriate reference to clients/colleagues
  • 4% – Referencing confidential information

Catherine O’Flynn cautioned employers saying,

“A rise in inappropriate behaviour by employees on social media is inevitable unless organisations have a strong social media policy in place tailored to its requirements. As litigation in this area grows, employers need to be proactive in order to protect their company and brand from reputational damage.”

Research was completed by iReach Market Research on behalf of William Fry in May 2015 with a sample size of 500 respondents comprised fully of employees who work in a company with over 50 employees.


About The Author

Mark is the founder of 60 Second Social media where he provides social media news and digital marketing analysis. He has an Advanced Diploma in Psychology and a Diploma in Digital Marketing And Social Media. You can follow him on Twitter here. You can also follow 60 Second Social on Twitter here. Or you can drop Mark an email at, [email protected]

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