A worrying three quarters of UK organisations have no formal appropriate usage policies in place relating to social networking sites despite acknowledging that they could help protect intellectual property and guard against the leakage of sensitive corporate information.
These are the findings of a survey undertaken among 2,100 employers by recruitment agency, Manpower.
The report entitled ‘Social Networks vs Management – Harness the Power of Social Media’ found that a mere 22% of organisations have introduced guidelines as to how staff should use social networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn.
But some 60% of respondents that had gone down this route indicated that the move had helped to boost staff productivity. A further 55% said that it had also helped to safeguard their corporate reputation.
Of the total sample, another 42% confirmed that such policies contributed to protecting intellectual property and the propriety of corporate data, while about a fifth claimed that they were useful for recruitment activity.
But despite such findings, some 95% of organisations denied that their corporate reputation had to date been hit by workers using social networking sites inappropriately. A huge 97% of staff agreed.
On the other hand, more than half (56%) also failed to see how external social networks could benefit their business in any way. Only 11% believed that such sites could help to boost their corporate brand, while 7% felt that they could be a useful tool in assessing the background of potential candidates during the recruitment process.
Mark Cahill, managing director of Manpower UK, said: "It is important that organisations actively lay out a policy that will govern their employees’ use of these internal and external mediums as they can be instrumental in driving employee engagement, productivity, collaboration and knowledge management."
To ensure that social networks were used constructively within the business, he recommended that companies communicated clearly to staff what they were trying to achieve, the benefits they hoped to gain and how such a move fitted into their company culture.
Organisations should also encourage employees to come up with different ways of employing such tools to help them undertake their roles more effectively, not least to promote engagement. They should likewise ask regular users to discuss and demonstrate the benefits that they have received so far.
Finally, staff should be allowed to contribute to the development of clear goals and usage guidelines as such a situation would make them more likely to stick to them.