Dubai 20 September 2010. Professionals from the UAE are among the most active users of social and professional networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, according to the results of a recent global survey from worldwide staffing leader Robert Half. Despite this high usage rate among professionals in the UAE, however, respondents indicated that companies in the UAE are more liable to put restrictions on the use of social media sites or forbid their use altogether.
The survey was developed by Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment firm, and conducted by an independent research firm. It included more than 3,000 Human Resources and Finance/Accounting managers from 13 countries in Europe, South America and the Middle East.
In the UAE, 66 percent of respondents indicated they use social or professional networking sites at least “somewhat actively” (a minimum of two to three times per week), compared to the global average of 49 percent of respondents who describe themselves as somewhat-active users. Only respondents from Brazil (75%), Spain (72%) and Ireland (70%) were more likely to identify themselves as more active users than those from the UAE.
Respondents from the UAE indicated they find such sites most useful for gaining knowledge and experience from peers (56% of respondents), versus using networking sites for career opportunities (8%) or for recruitment (7%). More than half of those surveyed in the UAE (58%) said they would check the online profile of a candidate when they are looking to fill an open position.
James Sayer, senior manager at Robert Half UAE, says:
“Typically when companies consider the use of sites like Facebook or Twitter at work, they think about lost time spent on the Internet. And to be sure, there is the potential for such sites to be abused. But as this survey demonstrates, the bulk of professionals in the UAE turn to social and professional networking sites to keep in touch with colleagues, learn about developments in the profession and for recruitment. This would indicate most think of online networking as an extension of traditional, face-to-face networking, rather than only a place where they can post photos of themselves from parties.”
“I think the level of activity of users here in the UAE counters a stereotype of the region as lagging behind technologically and being less connected than professionals in other parts of the world. It demonstrates that finance and accounting professionals, like their colleagues around the world, will turn to available technology at hand to get the job done and keep in touch with the profession.”
Usage High Despite Restrictions
Interestingly, active use of social and professional networking sites is high in the UAE despite limits that employers have placed on their use. Fifty-four percent of respondents in the UAE are forbidden from accessing social media sites at work, making the UAE the most restrictive of all 13 countries surveyed, and 17 percent more restrictive than the global average of 37 percent. Netherlands was the least-restrictive country, as only 14 percent of respondents there indicated their company forbids the use of such networking sites. Furthermore, in the UAE, just 24 percent of respondents are allowed to access such sites without any restrictions, versus the global average of 38 percent.
“It isn’t surprising that employers in the region are more restrictive about the use of sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, compared to elsewhere. Generally speaking, companies in the region are relatively new to this discussion and are refining their approach to the level of access they should allow their employees, particularly compared to Europe and America, where employers have more experience with this issue. We see companies in the region that are considering revisiting their restrictions or seeking employee input about how they use networking sites, all with an eye toward loosening some guidelines. They may find that their rules need some adjustments to fit today’s Internet-influenced workplace, and that employees value such sites in their career development.”
“For example, an employer may consider allowing employees to use social/professional networking sites at work but only during their lunch hour, or by signing an agreement that they promise to use such sites responsibly without infringing excessively on the company’s time or negatively affecting the company’s reputation. Such policies show that the employer acknowledges that employees actively make use of networking sites, and encourages them to do so responsibly and openly with management’s approval. It also shows that employers recognise there can be positive benefits of employees maintaining an active online profile, such as promoting the company as an employer of choice and in recruitment.”
For further information please contact:
Robert Half International
Tel : 0031 10 280 15 78
Robert Half International
Tel : 00971 4 382 6700