HR departments may be concerned to learn 50 per cent of employees have admitted to browsing the internet at work for personal reasons.

That is according to a study conducted by Cranfield School of Management, which has revealed that young employees in particular are letting their addiction to IT affect their productivity.

The research disclosed that younger employees admitted to using technology to flirt and make friends and admitted that these activities could "dominate" their working day.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Professor Andrew Kakabadse said: "Shockingly over 70 per cent of the group that are young, autonomous, personally well connected and sensitive indicated that they spend up to 50 per cent of their working day accessing social network sites such as Facebook and MySpace to satisfy their social/personal needs."

Those employees who are most productive with their use of IT were in the middle management group as they said they used technology to help them in their job.

Melbourne University’s Brent Coker recently said that as long as accessing social networking sites took up less than 20 per cent of a worker’s time; it should be seen as a positive way to relax and re-energise employees.