Some 59pc of Irish employees access social media sites while at work and spend on average 39 minutes per working day on these sites, according to research by law firm William Fry.
The study revealed that this is a sharp fall from last year, when 80pc of employees accessed social media sites during work hours.
Some 58pc of Irish employers have no form of social media policy, leaving them wide open to potential litigation over defamation, reputational damage, and bullying allegations.This also leaves firms open to disputes with employees over ownership of business contacts.
The report noted that 42pc of companies in Ireland have implemented a social media policy (up from 31pc in 2013).
Only 54pc of the employees in these companies, however, have actually read the company social media policy, with fewer than 51pc claiming to fully understand it.
The research also highlighted the contentious issue of ‘ownership’ in social media. This is particularly relevant in relation to professional networking platforms, such as LinkedIn.
In Ireland, 40pc of employees have work-related contacts on their personal social media accounts. What happens to these work-related contacts, which may be of significant business value, when an employee leaves the company? Some 95pc of employers have not discussed with their employees ownership of work-related contacts on their employees' personal social media accounts.
“How social media affects the workplace is an issue that employers need to consider and deal with,” said Catherine O’Flynn, partner in William Fry’s employment and benefits department.
“Having a social media policy and instilling best social media practice within their organisation is hugely important.
“Litigation in this area is increasing and employers need to be best placed to protect their assets, their brand and their reputation from potential damage,” O’Flynn said.
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