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Facebook misuse costing employers millions

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Workers who waste time on Facebook during office hours are costing UK companies £132 million a day, according to new research.

The survey of 3,469 UK organisations also showed that 233 million hours a month are lost due to employees spending their time on social networking sites instead of getting on with their work.

The survey authors, employment law firm Peninsula, estimate the problem will cost employers £30.8 billion per year and is likely to escalate.

“Why should employers allow their workers to waste two hours a day on Facebook when they are being paid to do a job?” said Mike Huss, employment law director at Peninsula.

“The figures that we have calculated are minimums and it’s a problem that I foresee will escalate. Some companies are happy to let their workers use the internet for personal use, assuming that goals and targets are achieved. However, loss of productivity through social networks such as Facebook is proving to be a major headache and my advice would be for companies to block access.”

Huss added that employers should have clear policies in place that spell out to workers what they can and cannot use the internet for. “They need to define what is and what’s not acceptable during working hours. Bosses should continually remind staff that abusing company facilities, such as accessing Facebook in company time, is simply not tolerated. Repeated abuse may result in the employer taking action whenever anyone oversteps the mark.”

Some companies may view Facebook as a tool that they can use for business, however Huss warns of further potential problems, such as an employer’s liability for comments posted by workers directed at other colleagues. “This may even spell out discriminative tribunal claims if comments are taken to heart,” he said.

HR Zone wants to find out what you think! Please take part in our online poll below about whether bosses should block access to Facebook at work.


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2 Responses

  1. Where’s the research?
    It’s appalling that media site upon media site has put out the “Facebook costs millions” headline out there and no one has cited the article or really identified sufficiently where someone can even a summary of the research.

    As far as I can tell, Peninsula is a business-law consulting company with a direct interest in receiving publicity surrounding misuse of the internet. Without a proper citation, I cannot find the actual article. Searches in Google Scholar turn up nothing. I suspect that I have to purchase said information from Peninsula to access the information.

    My advice to HR departments is to get the message from your business units about Facebook abuse. Not your IT department! IT departments are not skilled in the use of Facebook — they are skilled in turning IT services on and off. For instance, I know people who work with teens who have no real access to teen trends because their employer turned off all website teens like.

  2. Get real
    For goodness sake. Banning facebook!

    I know lets ban Ipods too. It is a daft enough suggestion when HR are clearly looking new-hires up on facebook and their equivalent social search engines to research their backgrounds.

    If HR want to be called luddittes go ahead and ban each new technology as it comes along; how about
    – ebay
    – Ipod
    – mobile phones?

    £132m a day. How much does no lunch hour or tea break each day amount to? I guarantee it is more than this fictional figure.

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