Thursday 12 December 2019

Staff use of social media in work a 'growing problem'

Half of firms speak to employees over misuse, reveals report

Organisations can be held liable for employees’ defamatory comments.
Organisations can be held liable for employees’ defamatory comments.
Michael O'Leary of HRM Recruit
Louise McBride

Louise McBride

About one in four bosses in Ireland have disciplined an employee for being out of line using social media in the workplace, a report has found.

The report, by the executive recruitment firm HRM Recruit, also found that almost half of firms have had to speak informally with employees about the improper use of social media in the workplace.

Despite this, only six out of 10 firms have put a formal policy on social media in place.

"The inappropriate use of social media can include anything from the misuse of company email to the accessing of inappropriate websites to the downloading of inappropriate material," said Michael O'Leary, CEO of HRM Recruit.

Mr O'Leary said that the high proportion of bosses who had taken action against employees over the improper use of social media showed that it was "an area of considerable concern for employers".

"Social media has become a growing problem for companies because more people have access to it – and more people use it for work," said Mr O'Leary.

The report, which surveyed more than 750 organisations across Ireland, also found that it has become a major challenge for bosses to hold on to key staff.

More than two-fifths of those surveyed described the retention of key employees as "a significant issue".

Employers are now more concerned about holding on to staff than they are about cutting costs. More than one in three of those surveyed said they expected it to be hard to attract talented staff over the next year.

"Having being through the dreadful experience of having to make redundancies, firms are looking to attract the top 5 to 10 per cent of talent – whereas previously they would have looked to hire within the top quartile," said Mr O'Leary. "This is one of the reasons they are more concerned about holding on to staff today."

The impact of cost-cutting and redundancies in the workplace is also evident in the report.

More than four out of 10 companies reported an increase in the number of employees with stress-related problems – as well as the number of extra hours taken on by staff.

There has been a particular increase in stress-related problems amongst those working in banking, manufacturing and technology companies, according to the report.

"People are being asked to do a lot more than they would have been asked to do during the boom years – and often with less resources," said Mr O'Leary.

One of the consequences of this additional workload is that the number of holidays being offered by an employer in their package has become a key priority for many workers, he added.

"After basic salary, the number two thing that people are looking for is holidays," said Mr O'Leary. "People want to have more balance in their lives as a consequence of having to carry the work once performed by people who might have left the organisation".

However, the days of redundancies may be coming to an end – the report found that almost half of companies plan to hire more staff this year and only one in five expect to reduce their headcount.

Almost two-thirds of those surveyed said they had taken on more staff over the last two years.

"While banking, tourism and education organisations have reduced staff over the last two years, organisations in technology, pharmachem, medical devices, engineering, construction and insurance have, substantially in many cases, increased their headcount," said the report.

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