"Social networks are really misnomer because they are turning into commercial entities and changing the way companies do business," Manpower Inc Chairman and CEO Jeff Joerres said.

Social networks are slowly emerging as “commercial networks” for businesses, as they provide profitable opportunities for both individuals and prospective employers, says staffing services firm Manpower.

“Social networks are really misnomer because they are turning into commercial entities and changing the way companies do business,” Manpower Inc Chairman and CEO Jeff Joerres said.

After the emergence of social networks, organisations can tap previously invisible and inaccessible pools of talent in the form of virtual workforce, Manpower said.

“These untapped but highly-skilled workers are critical in the face of an ageing global workforce and worsening talent mismatch,” Mr. Joerres said.

Through sites such as Facebook, employees can connect to their CEO, whose access to their unfiltered ideas can inform their view of the business in exciting new ways, he said.

“The focus of company efforts should be to channel use of social networking in directions that benefit organisations and employees alike, rather than trying to control employees’ social networking behaviour,” Mr. Joerres added.

The key is to equip your employees with a framework for what’s on-message and the tone of your company, and then empower them to be ambassadors of your brand, he added.

These findings have come at a time when social networking sites are blamed for reducing the productivity of businesses.

According to Manpower research, 75 per cent of employees surveyed say their respective companies do not have a formal policy for the use of social networks. Most organisations that have instituted a policy have done so in order to avoid productivity loss, mirroring the corporate reaction to the growing popularity of the World Wide Web in the 1990s, when it was feared that employees would waste too much time idly surfing the Web.