More than half of Irish office workers admit they use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter at work. Meanwhile red-faced bosses believe these sites are a costly distraction.
A study from Peninsula Ireland, the employment law consultancy, has revealed the extent to the social networking problem in business.
It reveals that 69pc of Irish businesses believe social networking sites are a nuisance.
“If social networking websites are no use to you; ban them,” Alan Price, Peninsula’s managing director. “We are trying to fight our way through a recession and so businesses need a focused workforce.
“Employers need to take a tough stance on the subject of social networking and tell their employees that they will not tolerate the use of these sites during working hours. The problem has been around for a while and employers acknowledge the fact that they are having a negative impact on their business but do nothing about it.”
“Employers need to be pro-active in dealing with the issue and look at their IT policies and ensure that they clearly state that employees are not to use the websites during working hours.
“Employers then need to make their staff fully aware of the disciplinary implications, should they choose to ignore these policies. If businesses are finding that the sites are a problem, they need to put a complete ban on their use and have the access to the sites blocked.”
Price says many businesses have become wise to the problem and have blocked access.
However, employees are using smart phones as a way to get round the ban and so, he says, employers need to be on guard.
“With many businesses streamlining their operations to stay competitive during the recession, employers are working with tight resources and so productivity is key.
“Employers should make their staff aware of the situation they are in and make clear to them what effect their time wasting will have on the company. This should discourage people from using the sites during work hours.”
Price concluded: “Employers need to re-assess their IT policies and make sure they explicitly ban the use of social networking sites. There is an argument for the use of social networking sites within some industries however where there is no advantage to your business, you need to ban them.
“Be firm with staff if they insist on accessing the sites during the working day and show them that these misuse of resources will not be tolerated,” Price said.
By John Kennedy