98% of employers have not discussed the issue of work connections on employees’ personal social media with their employees. Employees spend an average of 37 minutes on personal social media accounts over the course of a typical working day.

A social media and employment research report produced by Top 5 Irish law firm William Fry has revisited the topical issue of social media usage within the workplace.  The annual report, the third in the series, outlines that in Ireland, 1 in 2 employees have work-related contacts on their personal social media accounts compared to 40% in 2014. However, only 2% of employers have discussed the issue of such work connections on personal social media with their employees.

Commenting on the report, Catherine O’Flynn, Partner in William Fry’s Employment & Benefits Practice Group said, “As the Irish economy continues to improve, more and more employees are moving jobs, bringing these valuable work-related connections with them to new roles. Whereas the position surrounding ownership of work-related content, such as confidential information, is usually clearly addressed in typical employment contracts, this will not be sufficient to address the issues regarding work-related contacts on social media accounts or to keep up with the rapid developments in this area.

Our research shows a decrease in the time spent on social media sites while at work and that organisations with a written social media policy have increased slightly from 42% to 46% within the last year. However, employers cannot be complacent and need to ensure that they introduce, and regularly review, comprehensive social media guidelines. This is one area which needs to remain a key focus for organisations.”

In addition, the growth of professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn has seen a rising number of employees using social media to search or apply for new jobs and this is borne out in the research which found that men (26%) are more likely to use social media to apply for new jobs than women (21%). Using social media for this purpose is having an impact on what employees post, with 56% of employees stating that they now think twice about what they post because of the chance of a prospective employer seeing it.

The growth of workplace social media usage in recent years has led to employers having to discipline staff due to inappropriate social media behaviour.   Over the last 12 months 15% of employees said they knew of colleagues being disciplined for misuse of social media which included:

  • 8% - Inappropriate reference to the company
  • 6% - Bullying or harassment of colleagues
  • 6% - Inappropriate comments/photos
  • 5% - Inappropriate reference to clients/colleagues
  • 4% - Referencing confidential information

Catherine O’Flynn cautioned employers saying “, a rise in inappropriate behaviour by employees on social media is inevitable unless organisations have a strong social media policy in place tailored to its requirements. As litigation in this area grows, employers need to be proactive in order to protect their company and brand from reputational damage.”


For further information please contact
Ruth Burnside, FleishmanHillard, 087 996 7496 or ruth.burnside@fleishmaneurope.com
Sinead Hennebry, William Fry, 0044 20 7571 0495 / 0044 77 1100 4569


Research was completed by iReach Market Research on behalf of William Fry. The fieldwork was completed in May 2015 with a sample-size of 500 respondents comprised fully of employees who work in a company with over 50 employees.