November 10, 2017

Important New Research Shows Chasm Between How Companies Are Using Social Media and Best Practice

Leading international law firm Faegre Baker Daniels today publishes a report on Social Media in the Workplace which reveals some of the potential advantages and pitfalls attached to monitoring employees and controlling their use of social media at work.

The research is supported by a poll of almost 100 CEOs, HR directors and other senior executives disclosing how they manage social media and deal with any problems they encounter over their employees’ social media use. The poll was commissioned by Faegre Baker Daniels and undertaken by JC Social Media.

62% of respondents view social media as fairly or very important to their business. The report provides comprehensive and up to date statistics on the monitoring of employees’ social media, emphasising that such monitoring is restricted by a range of legislation and a duty of trust and confidence which underlies all employment relationships. It further highlights that before any monitoring takes place, employers need to ensure they are following best practice, including by conducting impact assessments to decide whether monitoring is justified. Such assessments provide significant protection for the employer and are highly recommended if the monitoring is going to be particularly intrusive or if it may lead to litigation.

Huw Beverley-Smith, intellectual property partner at Faegre Baker Daniels, says of the research:

“Checks and balances need to be put in place to ensure social media isn’t being misused in the workplace, but employees do have a basic right to privacy at work. It is important that employers understand the legal obligations surrounding monitoring, as monitoring of employees’ health and working patterns through wearable technology becomes more prevalent. Employers can only monitor with caution and an example of best practice is to conduct an impact assessment before monitoring. Only a third (33%) of respondents in our poll were aware of the need for an impact assessment before monitoring.”

Social media is used in two main ways for recruitment; firstly, it is an effective way of advertising a role, and secondly, it is an effective tool for learning more about applicants. Some of the key findings of the survey regarding recruitment and enforcement of social media policies include:

  • Over three quarters (78.4%) of respondents had searched online for information about a job applicant
  • Two-thirds (65.8%) of companies who search online do not tell the applicants they are doing so
  • Just over half of employers (52.8%) rigorously enforce their social media policy only when a serious issue arises
  • Only 14% of respondents had taken disciplinary action based on an employee’s social media activity

Alex Denny, employment partner and London office leader, comments on the research:

“Our major new report shows that although social media is pervasive and the majority of business leaders recognize its importance, the law and best practice for employers has not kept up with social media’s exponential growth and its use in the workplace.

There are huge benefits to social media, especially in the areas of recruitment and marketing, but the report highlights its numerous pitfalls. Monitoring employees’ accounts is becoming an increasingly contentious issue, especially as we begin to see the rise of wearable technology in the workplace. A robust social media policy and impact assessment plus restrictive covenants in contracts will help employers manage the risks associated with social media use.”




Note to Editors

For further information, please contact:

Clementine Hay, Byfield Consultancy, 020 7092 3991,

Alison Kuipers, Business Development & Marketing Regional Manager, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, 020 7450 4500,

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