Employers facing the facts on Facebook | 13 November 09

COMPANIES who worry their staff spend too much time on social networks like Facebook and using the internet inappropriately are being given a helping hand through a series of workshops in the North East and Yorkshire.

Durham-based training and development company Protostar Leadership Development has teamed up with leading North law firm Ward Hadaway to offer a special half-day workshop in key aspects of privacy and employment law along with the practical implications of a modern IT-literate workforce.

The issue is causing increasing concern amongst employers – so far more than 120 HR managers and business leaders from across the North have already signed up to attend the workshops.

Michael Coates, managing director of Protostar, said the high demand for the events demonstrates the impact which social networking is having on the workplace.

Mr Coates said: “A number of recent surveys have shown that over 25% of employees aged 18 to 35 are spending on average three hours every week during work time on social network sites or emailing friends.

“Many employers don’t need a survey to tell them that, as they have seen productivity fall.”

Harmajinder Hayre, partner at law firm Ward Hadaway, said: “Faced with this kind of use, many organisations now want to know if they can monitor emails and web usage or even have surveillance of certain employees, as without that it is very difficult to tackle the issues.

“During the workshop, I will be taking delegates through the legal aspects of privacy and some of the practical implications of monitoring employees.”

Michael Coates will also look in greater depth at the possible implications of staff using social network sites.

He said: “A number of high profile cases have shown that employees are being fired for what they put on Facebook.

“A number of organisations have also had an amnesty for employees to take down unofficial websites about their company.”

Many companies believe that their IT security systems will stop misuse by blocking certain sites.

However, as Michael Coates will illustrate at the workshops, it is easy for anyone with a basic IT knowledge to network, messenger, and play games, online at work, despite controls.

The workshops take place in Newcastle on Monday 16 November; in Leeds on Thursday 19 November and in Doncaster on Tuesday 1 December.

The Newcastle event is already sold out and the popularity of the £49 course has meant that a further three sessions may have to be run in the New Year.

Further details on the sessions in Leeds and Doncaster can be found on the Protostar website at www.protostar-dev.com

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