Employees who access social networks for personal use could potentially cost the Irish economy more than €700m in lost work time per year, an IrishJobs.ie survey has revealed.
The survey, which included more than 1,000 workers, found that more than half of Irish workers admitted to accessing social networking sites at work.
The majority of these spent time inbox messaging, commenting on friend’s walls, tweeting, adding photos and videos and updating their profiles.
The figures state that 65,000 of the 1.8 million strong Irish workforce spend more than an hour a day on social networking sites while at work.
With Ireland’s GDP at more than €159bn, according CSO figures for 2009, social networking sites could be costing the country more than €700m, with SMEs likely to be the hardest hit by the productivity drop.
"Our results clearly show that Irish workers are spending increased time whilst at work on social networking sites, which, if left unchecked, could have negative repercussions on the productivity of many companies across the country,” said Valerie Sorohan, marketing manager of IrishJobs.ie.
“Whilst we’re certainly not kill-joys, and feel that certain periods of time on social sites can be beneficial, people spending more than an hour each day of work time on social networking sites could hamper companies’ efforts to boost productivity.
“Companies would do well to monitor use of social networking sites and have clear social networking policies in place,” said Sorohan.
Of those who regularly accessed social networking sites, one in five admitted they spent up to 30 minutes a day on these sites.
Findings from IrishJobs.ie’s social networking at work survey
Ninety per cent of all respondents said they used Facebook in general, while 39pc visit YouTube and 15pc use Twitter.
The survey found that workers were against the idea of banning these sites at work. Some 77pc were in favour of some sort of access to them during working hours.
More than half of the respondents felt they are just as productive as ever and 7pc feel that social networking sites make them more productive.
The 7pc claim that short breaks to check these sites help them concentrate better when they returned to work.
Five per cent of respondents claimed they were less productive, as they were constantly distracted.
It was also revealed that large companies were more inclined to have a social networking usage policy during work hours, with 58pc of those within these companies confirming it.
Usage among employees in these companies was lower, with 43pc logging onto social networking during work hours.
Some 27pc of SME employees said their workplace has a social networking policy and as a result, 55pc of employees admitted to using these services at work.
Social networking on the job in the UK
Compared to a UK survey conducted by Saongroup.com, while 3.5pc of Irish employees access social networking for more than an hour a day, the UK’s statistic was 5.8pc. This could cost the UK economy up to £14bn per year.
"Usage of social media amongst Irish workers may well increase in line with the UK figures as broadband speeds here are set to increase and the popularity of these sites continues to grow,” said Sorohan.
“Therefore, it is advisable that companies proactively put in place measures to curb usage in order to protect productivity levels.”