A rethink on social networking in the workplace

Employers looking to boost worker productivity by restricting access to social networking sites may need to rethink their strategy.

A study by law firm Deacons shows that three in four workers (76%) believe that the use of social networking sites such as Facebook can drive businesses benefits and many would choose not to work for a company blocking access.

The telephone survey of 693 full and part time workers around Australia, aged 16 years and over, found 32% of 16 to 24 year olds used office internet access to visit social networking sites, as did 23% of 25 to 34 year olds. 

The survey also found that one in four 16 to 24 year olds would factor workplace social networking policies into a decision over two similar job offers.

Why should bosses allow access to social networking? Workers say:

  • It showed trust in employees.
  • Gives people a break from day-to-day work, keeping them fresh.
  • Allows them to better network with other employees, customers and suppliers.

Nick Abrahams, head of technology, media and telecommunications at Deacons, believes employers need to balance potential benefits against the obvious risks to productivity – and of harassment.

“Our research suggests organisations need to weigh these risks and learn to manage them – as they have for other new technologies like email, instant messaging and the internet itself.

“Short of blocking or restricting access to Web 2.0 applications in the workplace, organisations should at the very least implement employee policies and procedures for use of these applications at work,” says Abrahams.

“Getting the balance right is particularly important in an economy with low levels of unemployment and intense competition for young talent,” he says.

What do you think about giving employees access to Facebook and MySpace? Do you think employers should be able to monitor employees internet and email use? Take the SmartPoll. It’s quick and anonymous.

 

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