Employers should encourage use of Facebook and Twitter

‘Old-fashioned’ employers are failing to support staff to use new technologies like Twitter or Facebook to communicate with peers, a survey has warned.

A report by broadband provider BT Business found that one in six of employees aged between 18 and 24, and 10% of those aged 25 or over, relied on social networking sites to create and develop work-related relationships.

But 42% of the 3,600 employees surveyed said their organisation provided no guidelines or training to help them effectively use these tools, and many companies continue to restrict access to social networking sites to prevent personal use.

Nearly one third of those surveyed feared they would lose clients if they did not get better at using Web 2.0 technologies to communicate with them.

Bill Murphy, managing director at BT Business, said many employers were “missing out” on the opportunity to help employees communicate in an easy and cost-effective manner.

“Unified communications can empower employees to intelligently tune their communications to the preferences and behaviour patterns of different personalities by creating a sense of presence in a virtual world,” he said.

Nicola Monson, a research associate at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, told Personnel Today social networking sites were becoming important in helping employees to engage with clients.

“A lot of companies are now using [sites] to help them learn about each other and share knowledge, ideas and promote discussion,” she said.

Monson called on HR to help employees understand the technology and the benefits of using sites like Twitter.

However, she warned: “It’s a question of striking the right balance. It’s important that HR professionals develop and communicate well-informed policies on what behaviour is acceptable and what is not. One size doesn’t fit all.”

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