[Study] When Social Media and the Workplace Collide

[Study] When Social Media and the Workplace Collide

Social media in the workplace is not easy to manage. An employee’s use of social media is certainly a tricky area that employers are dealing with today. According to a recent study by DLA Piper, one third of employers have disciplined employees for something posted on a social media site.  The research also found that 21% or employers had to give their employees a warning for posting something derogatory about a colleague or about the business itself. Despite this only a quarter of the businesses within the study have a social media policy. That, in itself, is a huge problem. Other findings in the study include:

Of employees who use social media for personal use:

  • 14% have posted a status update or tweeted about work issues
  • 22% posted a status update or tweeted about a colleague
  • 28% have posted photos of colleagues or business activities
  • 1% have posted confidential business information
  • 39% have befriended a colleague or business contact in Facebook
  • 39% have connected to a colleague or business contact on LinkedIn

The study also reveals that the use of social media is landing employees in hot water:

  • 21% of employers have taken disciplinary proceedings because of information an employee has displayed on a social media site about another employee
  • 25% of employers have taken disciplinary proceedings because of information an employee has displayed on a social media site about their activities at work
  • 31% of employers have taken disciplinary proceedings because of information an employee has displayed on a social media site about the organization
  • 30% of employers have taken disciplinary proceedings because of the level of usage of social media sites while at work

The key takeaway of this study is clear. Having a social media policy that manages social media in the workplace is a business imperative.


About Michael Brito

Michael Brito has been making things happen online since 1996 with a legit hustle. He gets mad when the 49ers lose, really mad. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.

  • http://www.levispires.com Levi Spires

    The best policy is not to have a policy. Set standards for work performance and let people be social. Even the US Air Force allows employees unlimited access to Facebook.

  • http://blogbiertjuh58.blogspot.com/ JB

    We are all careful, of course, bur everyone can have an opinion, whether that’s in real life or on line. Well, there is no separation anymore between “real life” and a “online” life anymore. I think that the overall impact being seen drunk on the internet is just as harmful as “in real life”.

    There are very few companies who have specialized personnel that would be capable of informing your and their bosses with detailed info on you or me. The law is still pretty much shady about the whole issue. I would not worry to much about mine.  

  • http://www.brandboost.co.uk Danny Blair

    A recent, well publicised, situation in the UK, where a group of teachers (all from the same school) made derogatory comments about their pupils, highlights the care individuals have to take when social networking. A quick emotional outburst can finish a career, it doesn’t matter whether it’s fuelled by alcohol, tiredness or stress.     

  • http://twitter.com/thebrandbuilder Olivier Blanchard

    A real social media policy, not just an unrealistic 3-paragraph document put together by legal that prohibits rather than explains, and gives the company the right to fire employees for the slightest infraction of their rules.

    I keep running into people whose companies prohibit them from even having blogs. Some have been threatened with termination if they use Twitter and other platforms (outside of work). I myself was pressured – years ago – by my then boss to not only stop the Brandbuilder blog, but delete it altogether, along with my Twitter account, so I know what that’s like.

    IBM is kind of the standard for how to do it right. Sadly though, it is still the exception rather than the rule. Beware the company that does not yet have a social media policy in place, but beware even more the company that has an inadequate one in place and thinks it has the matter “handled.” 😉

  • http://twitter.com/samyroumieh Samy Roumieh


  • http://www.magnet4marketing.net Fabrizio Van Marciano

    I believe that there shouldn’t really be a policy since
    these days social media is playing a large roll in marketing for businesses for
    example, but understandably posting irrelevant updates about a company issue or
    issues about another employee is I guess throwing any privacy policy or in work
    confidentiality that company may have straight out of the window.

  • http://twitter.com/michellekostya Michelle Kostya

    Thanks Bryan! 

    Absolutely agree. The ability for the business to have this kind of 360 degree view of their customer would help companies improve customer satisfaction and be far more efficient in their approach to social customer service. I think, and hope, it is only a matter of time before this is not just the *dream* but reality. 

  • http://twitter.com/michellekostya Michelle Kostya

    Thanks Peter!  I found that talking in the terminology of the business usually resulted in understanding and buy-in more rapidly as well.

  • http://twitter.com/michellekostya Michelle Kostya

    Thanks Danny, appreciate the comment! 

  • http://twitter.com/michellekostya Michelle Kostya

    Thanks for the comment! Yes, the truth is when you launch any social marketing effort the customer IS going to ask questions….and they may not be ones the marketing team is prepared to respond to.  

  • http://www.britopian.com Michael Brito

     thanks @daveohoots:twitter meant to send an email bud didn’t think you would mind!