Australian Employers Taking Chances When Blocking Facebook Too, Says Deacons

[news release] 76% See Business Benefits – May Influence Job Choice for 46% of UsersAustralian employers’ approach to on-line social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace may be influencing their efforts to recruit young workers, according to new research by law firm Deacons.In the Deacons’ Social Networking Survey 2008, almost half of those who used social networking sites at work said that if given a choice between two jobs equal in all other respects, they would choose an employer which allowed access to these sites over one which did not.The research found almost a third of 16-24 year olds and a quarter of 25-34 year olds who access the Internet from work use it at some time for on-line social networking activity.The results highlight the challenges organisations face when it comes to managing the impact of so-called Web 2.0 technologies, says Nick Abrahams, head of Deacons’ Technology, Media and Telecommunications law practice (biography:”There are risks with social networking sites in the workplace, such as adverse impacts on productivity, as well as heightened chances of harassment claims. One response is to block these sites but that action carries its own risks.””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.”Getting the balance right is particularly important in an economy with low levels of unemployment and intense competition for young talent.””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,” Mr Abrahams said.Deacons’ research provides a snapshot of Internet use in Australian workplaces. The survey found 62per cent of workers have access to the Internet from work and of these:

  • 14 per cent use it at some time to access social networking sites. Usage is significantly higher among younger workers with 32 per cent of 16-24 year olds and 23 per cent of 25-34 year olds reporting frequent or occasional use.
  • 20 per cent said their employer blocked access to social networking sites while 57 per cent said their employer allowed it (23 per cent did not know).
  • 76 per cent of workers who use the Internet at work could see a benefit to their organisation in allowing access to social networking sites believing it showed:
  • -trust in employees (68per cent);
  • -gave people a break from day to day work and kept them fresh (48 per cent); and
  • -allowed them to better network with other employees, customers and suppliers (40 per cent).
  • Among those who use social networking sites, 91 per cent saw a benefit to their organisation from the activity. In general, younger workers were more likely to see these benefits than their older counterparts.
  • 16 per cent overall said an employers policy re on-line social networking would influence their decision to join one employer over another. This view was particularly strong among 16 to 24 year olds, with one in four saying it would.

The results were released to coincide with an address by Dr Jeffrey Cole of the Centre for the Digital Future at University of Southern California ( to the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce at Deacons Sydney office tonight (details: refuse jobs with no Facebook
Bosses who block access to MySpace and Facebook at work risk losing valuable staff to other companies, new research has found.Almost half of those who use MySpace and Facebook during work hours say they would refuse a job where they were not allowed access to social networking sites, according to the study by Australian law firm Deacons.,23599,23548865-1702,00.html

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