Hopefully, 10 years from now we won’t be debating the merits of employees using social media at their workplaces. Until then, the debate over the risks and rewards continues.

A new survey of 1,400 Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) in the U.S. shows nervousness over social media by employees. Fifty-one per cent of CFOs responded that employees using social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are wasting time during business hours. Eighteen per cent expressed concern that employees behave unprofessionally while using social media.

Social media benefits for employees in workplacesIt’s not all negative, though. The survey also reveals CFOs’ positive views of how social media can be a benefit in the workplace (see chart at left). Clearly, there is a role for social media in the workplace. But it can only be achieved if guidelines and expectations are created. You need a social media policy.

Here’s an obvious fact: People use social media BIG time today. Cutting people off from social media from 9 to 5 everyday just encourages stealth social media use. Employees do so because they fear they’re doing something wrong. Instead, encourage social media for work purposes.  It is a 21st century must-have tool for doing business.

Employees already discuss telephone calls or emails from customers or clients with co-workers or managers. The natural evolution of communication includes social media. It’s time to start adding social media to this workplace openness and dialogue. It benefits everyone.

The survey of 1,400 CFOs was conducted by Accountemps, a division of Robert Half International.