Almost half of Kiwis in the workforce are checking their social media pages on their mobile phones at work, while a third think it is OK to use their phones while driving.

And some seem to be openly flouting their employers' policies around when they can access the internet and how much time they spend updating social media posts.

The Canstar Blue survey shows 43 per cent of almost 2000 New Zealanders surveyed checked their social media sites at work through their mobile phones.

Of that percentage, 51 per cent were from Auckland.


People aged 18 to 29 were more likely to check sites like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at work - with 77 per cent doing so - while those more likely to focus on work duties were aged 70 plus.

Only 4 per cent of people in that age bracket checked their social media sites at work on their cellphones.

Human resources expert Murray Cowan, a director for HR firm Grow Human Resources, said it was an issue they were increasingly having to deal with.

Of the 600 clients they helped, most companies did not block social media sites and relied on workers to be honest about their internet versus work habits.

Mr Cowan said they strongly recommended companies implement specific rules on social media use at work into their policies, so employees were aware of the rules - and repercussions.

"You pay people to come to work to work for you and apply themselves to the best of their ability, so you can succeed as a business. It's almost tantamount to theft of time."

Mr Cowan said successful policies had included allowing employees to check social media - both on their mobiles and computers - only on breaks or lunch times.

In factory job environments, employers were encouraged to have their workers turn their mobiles off completely during work hours.

A partner at employment law firm Dundas Street, Blair Scotland, said he was not surprised at the high number of people accessing social media at work.

He said the key thing was to ensure that workers were indeed carrying out their duties, rather than checking their social media pages throughout the day.

"If people confine the use at break times or before and after work or lunch times, then there's no issue.

"If they're spending all their working day online checking Facebook etc, that's a problem for an employer and they're potentially entitled to discipline them for that."

Other figures in the survey showed 47 per cent of Kiwis felt their phone was a portable personal assistant and could not function without it.

A total of 32 per cent did not think using a mobile while driving was dangerous, while 17 per cent said social media apps such as SnapChat and Instagram consumed the most of their data.