A significant number of employees say they have a preference for using social media when looking for employment; and, consequently, believe that firms need to engage with social media. Yet, paradoxically, at the same time, many employees also believe that use of social media in the workplace can undermine their employer.

These somewhat contradictory findings come from the Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI); a series of reports based on a major survey of 170,000 individuals worldwide, carried out by recruitment consultants, Kelly Services.

According to the latest report from this year’s KGWI, whilst the positive recruitment and company profile aspects of social media are subscribed to by around a third of those surveyed, some 44% believe that social media undermine productivity in the workplace; whilst 73% believe it inappropriate to use social media to exchange views regarding work.

This negative view of workplace social media however does not appear to be on the management radar; with just 6% of those surveyed saying their bosses had banned social media on the premises.

According to Kelly Services’ general manager for UK and Ireland, Andrew Cook, it is now time for both employers and employees to engage pro-actively with social media. Cook agrees that helping to promote a company and recruiting staff are areas where social media can help.

He also however questions the pessimism – or at best indifference – towards the use of social media in the workplace:

“Most people fear discussions about their current employer could be negative, when in fact your workforce can be your best social brand ambassadors.”

he said.