The majority of companies are putting their businesses at risk because rely on employees to exercise good judgement when it comes to using social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Nearly half of all businesses do not have social media and networking policies in place, despite the fact that 76% use social networking for business purposes, according to a survey by Proskauer’s International Labor & Employment Group of more than 120 multinational employers. In addition, 43% of the respondents have reported employee misuse of social networks

The survey, which was initiated in June, asked 10 questions aimed at capturing current attitudes and practices concerning social media in the workplace. Questions ranged from “Do you think it is an advantage or disadvantage to your business to allow employees access to social networking sites while at work for business use and non-business use?” to “Do you actively block access to social networking sites at work?” to “Has your business ever had to take disciplinary action against an employee in relation to misuse of social networks?”

Key findings:

  • More than three-quarters (76%) of businesses use social networking for business.
  • Of the businesses that use social networking for business, 70% only started doing so in the last three years.
  • 29% of businesses actively block employees’ access to social networking sites. Only 27% monitor employee use of social networking sites.
  • 43% of businesses have dealt with employee misuse of social networks and nearly a third of all businesses have taken disciplinary action against employees in relation to misuse of social networks.
  • Despite the widespread use and misuse of social networking at work, 45% of all businesses still do not have social networking policies.

My take? Companies of all descriptions should ensure they have a social media policy and should append it to employees’ contracts of employement. Setting the ground rules of acceptible behaviour from the outset will allow companies to harness the benefits of social networks while minimizing the risks.