Media Release: Employers without a social media plan for staff could be open to risks, says Law Society member

SOICAL media provides many businesses with the means to instantly connect with customers; never has it been easier to share, monitor and communicate  information.

But – says a key member of the Law Society of Scotland – social media in the workplace does also come with issues and those employers who do not have a social media policy in place, could be leaving themselves open to risks.

Eilidh Wiseman, member of the Law Society of Scotland’s Employment Law Committee said: “Social media access in the workplace is an issue and can expose employers to a number of risks ranging from low level concerns like time wasting to more serious consequences such as posting a defamatory comment online.

“Employers, even those who do not embrace social media themselves, will have employees who do. Creating a social media policy, which provides guidance for employees, is essential.”

Ms Wiseman, head of Dundas & Wilson’s Employment Team recently carried out a survey amongst HR professionals on social media practice within their workplaces.

“The results showed that the vast majority of companies encourage social media engagement for business purposes but have concerns about doing so, with the most common concerns cited as excessive use of websites during working hours and posting inappropriate comments about the business.”

Ms Wiseman said: “The actual incidences of social media misuse are few, but it is important to recognise the potential issues.

“The majority of risks can be minimised by thinking about the issue in advance and drafting a social media policy which is suitable for the business concerned. For example, what works for a PR agency which actively engages in social media to share information about its clients will perhaps not be suitable for an accountancy firm.

“Social media relates to culture, behaviour and communication so it is essentially an HR issue. We would therefore recommend that a plan is created and led by the HR team with input from the IT department. Once constructed, the policy should be shared widely with staff and reviewed regularly to ensure it is still appropriate.

“Interestingly, because of its growing use across the legal sector, the International Bar Association (IBA), a representative body for lawyers across the globe, is currently undertaking research into the opportunities and challenges of social media use as well as examining whether it should work with law societies and associations on providing guidelines to the legal profession as a whole.”

ENDS 18 JULY 2011

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