Research released today revealed the true cost to the UK’s economy of the rise of social media as over half of British workers confessed to accessing social media profiles at work, with many spending so much time friending, Tweeting, adding photos and video, as well as updating their profiles, that companies’ productivity was suffering as a result.
MyJobGroup.co.uk, which operates the UK’s largest network of regional jobsites, polled 1,000 UK workers and found that nearly 6 per cent, or two million, of the UK’s 34 million-strong workforce spent over an hour per day on social media whilst at work, amounting to more than one eighth of their entire working day.
With UK GDP tipping the scales at £2trillion in 2009, MyJobGroup.co.uk warned that Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks could potentially be costing the UK up to £14billion in lost work time, with SMEs likely to be hardest hit by the drop in productivity. [calculation of £14bn provided below]
The survey also revealed that more than half (55 per cent) of the UK’s working population now accesses social media whilst at work, with a third of those (roughly six million) spending more than 30 minutes on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Myspace.
In spite of the negative effects on the UK’s economy in the midst of a fragile recovery, many polled were in denial about the ill-effects of social media on their efficiency. Only 14 per cent of respondents admitted to being less productive as a result of social media and 10 per cent even claimed social media had made them more productive.
What’s more, there was still widespread resistance to banning access to social networks at work, with over two thirds (68 per cent) advocating some form of access during working hours. Only one third wanted sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube barred during work time, demonstrating the growing importance of social media in Britons’ daily routine and the widespread resistance to its access being limited.
Lee Fayer, Managing Director of Myjobgroup.co.uk said: “Our results clearly show that UK workers are spending increased time whilst at work on social media networks, which, left unchecked, could have negative repercussions on the productivity of many companies across the country.
“Whilst we’re certainly not kill-joys, people spending over an hour per day in work time on the likes of Facebook and Twitter are seriously hampering companies’ efforts to boost productivity, which is more important than ever given the fragile state of our economy.
“Companies would do well to monitor use of social networking sites during work hours and ensure that their employees are not abusing their freedom of access to these sites.”