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Survey finds CFOs concerned about time wasted on social media sites, but also see business benefits in use

As social media makes its way into the workplace, executives are weighing the potential risks and benefits. Approximately half (51 percent) of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed recently for an Accountemps survey said their greatest concern is that employees are wasting time during business hours using sites such as Facebook and Twitter. CFOs also expressed worries their staff may behave unprofessionally or post inappropriate information online. However, three in 10 financial executives (28 percent) said using these sites can improve customer service.

The survey was developed by Accountemps, a staffing services firm specializing in accounting and finance. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on interviews with responses from more than 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

CFOs were asked, “What is your greatest concern for your company regarding employees using social media?” Their responses:

  • Wasting time at work (51 percent);
  • Behaving unprofessionally (18 percent);
  • Posting financial/confidential company information (11 percent);
  • Posting negative comments about company (10 percent); and
  • No concerns (10 percent).

CFOs were then asked, “What is the greatest benefit to your company of employees using social media?” Their responses:

  • Provide better customer service (28 percent);
  • Enhance company’s reputation (22 percent);
  • Expand networks of available contacts (20 percent);
  • Secure new business (18 percent); and
  • No benefits (10 percent).

“Many companies are still evaluating the risks and rewards of allowing employees to access social media websites at work,” said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps. “Firms with concerns about employees wasting time online while at the office can encourage appropriate online activity by developing and establishing a set of consistent guidelines.”

Messmer also pointed out, “More executives are seeing value in employees using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter for business purposes like promoting a product or service or connecting with target audiences. Employees in customer-facing roles, for example, can leverage these networks to communicate directly with customers and quickly address service issues as they arise.”

Source: Accountemps; www.accountemps.com.