Employees spend an average of 39 minutes per working day on social media accounts

95% of companies have not discussed with their employees the ownership of work-related contacts on employee’s personal social media accounts

5 May 2014: A social media and employment report, published by leading law firm William Fry today, looks at the business issues around social media usage in the Irish workplace.  The snapshot, which is a follow up to the Firm’s 2013 Social Media in the Workplace Report, states that 59% of Irish employees access social media sites while at work and spend, on average, 39 minutes per working day on these sites.

The research statistics:

  • 39 minutes is the average time spent by employees on social media sites during work hours (down from 56 minutes in 2013);
  • 59% of employees access social media sites during work hours (down from 80% in 2013);
  • 58% of employers do not have a social media policy in place;
  • 95% of employers have not discussed ownership of work related contacts on their employees’ personal social media accounts.

The report notes that 42% of companies in Ireland have implemented a social media policy (up from 31% in 2013). Worryingly though, only 54% of the employees in these companies have actually read the company social media policy, with fewer again at 51% claiming to fully understand it.

While the number of companies who have put social media policies in place has increased, 58% of Irish companies have still not done so, leaving themselves and their business open to problems such as disputes with employees concerning ownership of business contacts and potential litigation in connection with social media usage by employees. 

Commenting on the report, Catherine O’Flynn, Partner in William Fry’s Employment & Benefits Department said, “How social media affects the workplace is an issue that employers need to consider and deal with. 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.”

The research also highlighted the contentious issue of ‘ownership’ in social media. This is particularly relevant in relation to the professional networking platforms [such as LinkedIn].  In Ireland, 40% 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? A staggering 95% of employers have not discussed with their employees ownership of work related  contacts on their employees’ personal social media accounts.

Sinead Hennebry