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December 18, 2009

HR Fact Friday: Social Media Challenging for Employers

A recent survey is the latest reminder that companies are struggling to balance the benefits and risks of letting workers roam online realms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Half of companies have not set out a specific policy for workers’ online social networking activities, according to the report from two professional groups, the Health Care Compliance Association and the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics.

Although many organizations lack social networking policies, one-quarter of the nearly 800 compliance and ethics professionals surveyed said their organization has had to discipline an employee for activities on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Social networking sites pose risks such as employee disclosures of confidential information, exposure to computer viruses and postings that can damage a firm’s reputation. On the other hand, some experts say social networking can help firms in ways including viral marketing.

The social networking field has exploded. Facebook, for example, now claims more than 350 million active users, up from some 150 million in January.

Half of Facebook’s active users log on to the site in any given day, and more than 35 million users update their status daily. Quite often this access occurs from the workplace.

Companies, though, are in the dark about much of this activity, according to the September report from the professional groups. Mirroring the lack of a usage policy, roughly half the respondents reported that their companies do not have an active monitoring system for checking employee activity on social networking sites.

Source: Workforce.com, Ed Frauenheim

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