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UK employees don’t want bosses as friends on Facebook

A new study into the blurring lines of personal and professional social media use has found that 35% of employees in the UK wouldn’t accept their managers as ‘friends’ on Facebook.

The research, conducted by online reputation management firm Igniyte and HR Active, also found that 39% of employees have read and follow their company’s social media policy – but a further 18% didn’t even know if their company had a social media policy, potentially opening that company up to risk.

Encouragingly, 25% said they would think carefully before posting content or pictures on social media about how it could affect theirs or someone else’s professional reputation.

The study – which breaks down by sector – found that marketing and advertising employees, unsurprisingly, are the most social media savvy, with 36% checking their social media accounts before applying for a job to make sure they’re portraying a professional image and 23% happy to promote their company through their personal social media accounts.

Property companies are most open to reputational risk from their employees posting something on social media, as 31% said their company didn’t have a policy in place.

Employees working in the travel, transport and leisure sector are most averse to allowing their personal and professional online lives to cross over – with 45% saying they wouldn’t accept managers on Facebook, 16% admitting they’ve read their company’s social media policy but don’t follow it and only 6% saying they’d be happy to promote their company through their personal social media accounts.

The research follows a number of high-profile cases where employees have posted offensive, defamatory, or ill-judged content from their personal social media account – thrusting their employer into the spotlight in the process.

Cases like these emphasise the importance of a company social media policy which reduces the risk posed to a company’s reputation by their employees.

This guide to Protecting Your Company From Employee Risk outlines the practical steps companies can take to improve internal security and communications to avoid a potentially devastating reputation risk from employees.