Productivity | Staff trawl social media for 13 hours per week

Staff trawl social media for 13 hours per week

UK employees spend an average of 13 hours on social media at work per week, according to new research from Croner.

Whether that time is spent glued to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, the study of 1,300 UK employees found that 57% favoured social media surfing between 3pm and 5pm in the afternoon.

Instagram appeared to be the platform of choice (36%) with 32% preferring to trawl through Facebook (32%) and 22% spending the majority of their time on Twitter.

“The number of business owners calling our employment advice line about social media use in the workplace has risen considerably over the past five years."

"Traditionally employers have had a knee-jerk reaction to social media, some wanting to dismiss employees for gross misconduct. However, this could result in claims for unfair dismissal,” said Paul Holcroft, Associate Director at Croner.

"Additionally, when faced with such situations, employers may also want to introduce a complete ban on accessing social media sites during work time. While this is an understandable approach, employers need to consider the potential benefits for their business if employees make positive use of social media.”

The news comes as Wikipedia’s Co-Founder has called for people to stop using social media for up to 48 hours between July 4 and 5 in an effort to pressure networks into restoring control of personal data to users. While the social media strike isn’t sought to boost productivity, there is a window of opportunity for employees to take part in some social media downtime. As a result, employees are likely to feel less distracted at work from looking at their phones during the two-day strike.

Chris Young, P&G HR Director, Northern Europe, told HR Grapevine: “I think that social media has a strong role to play in how we engage with our employees internally and how we engage with consumers externally. There are definitely opportunities with regards to when it’s used and how people use it.

“I don’t think it’s an issue for us [at P&G] currently but it’s definitely something that employers need to continue to be sensitive to. We need to be relevant to the employers that we employ but mindful of the balance that we need to strike,” he explained.

The research found that not all employees take to social media in the afternoon slowdown. 33% were more active on social media between 10am and 12pm.

Holcroft added: “It is completely acceptable for employers to limit internet use during times when employees are expected to be working as it obviously has an impact on productivity. However, access could be offered before or after work, or during official breaks."

From our magazine

"Whatever an employer chooses it is important that they have the right policies in place which clearly set out what employees can and can't do.

"High-profile legal cases involving Twitter and Facebook users at work should serve as a warning to employers of the dangers of not having clear policies in place. Even though social media still presents itself as a challenge to many businesses it doesn't have to.

“And if companies want to be seen as innovative, exciting and dynamic then they may wish to hop on the social media bandwagon and start to future-proof their business with a social media policy. A social media policy should set out clear rules on the use of social media and if appropriate, provide some positive guidelines on responsible use.”

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