Acas chief warns of social media challenge

Social media is likely to be one of the biggest workplace issues in 2012, the head of employment relations service Acas has warned.

Highlighting key challenges for employers in the coming year, Acas chairman Ed Sweeney said: “The rise of social media in recent years has been truly phenomenal. Facebook has more than 500 million users sharing more than 30 billion pieces of content each month.

“Social media throws up a number of issues for employees and employers in relatively uncharted territory for many.

“For instance should employers limit workforce access to social media sites at work? Can they regulate employee’s behaviour on sites outside of work if postings are work-related? And what types of behaviour should result in disciplinary action?

“Social media was the most popular new guidance we launched this year – employers know that it’s an area they need to tackle.”

He said employers needed to learn how to make the best use of social media websites as a marketing tool while effectively managing any misuse which can damage a business’s reputation.

In August 2010, a study by, a network of more than 300 jobsites across the UK, estimated that misuse of the internet and social media by employees cost the UK economy up to £14 billion a year. The same study found that more than 55 per cent of employees questioned admitted to accessing social networking sites such as Facebook at work.

Mr Sweeney said another key challenge for employers in 2012 was likely to be maintaining workforce morale and commitment when their organisation and Britain’s economy were struggling.

He also highlighted the likelihood that bosses and staff would want to resolve disagreements quickly and the impact of older workers retiring later as significant workplace issues in the coming year.

LINK: Acas social networking guidance

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