Managers in the UK need to strike the correct balance in terms of the freedom they permit staff over internet use, an expert has advised.

According to Toby Thompson, a networked learning executive at the Cranfield School of Management, it is "crucial" for bosses to give employees enough autonomy to keep them motivated, while also avoiding unnecessary distractions that can prove damaging to businesses.

He commented: "From a staff retention point of view, it is the manager’s responsibility to weigh the workers’ talents and company contributions against their off-piste internet use habits."

It would be costly, he added, to lose a worker as a result of "draconian" measures such as banning Facebook, however, it would also be "managerially inept" to reward poor performance with a tolerance of inappropriate web browsing.

Research published earlier this year by the Gartner Group recommended that employers embrace social networking sites as a means of encouraging creativity and on-the-job collaboration.