Employee Monitoring - Business Risks For Employers And How To Avoid Them

E-mail and Internet use are integral parts of the typical worker's daily routine. Because of its speed and overall convenience, e-mail has replaced the interoffice memorandum as the preferred method of communication. Employee access to the Internet also is important as a means of conducting job-related research and transactions.

For these reasons, employers often have little choice but to provide their employees with Internet access and e-mail accounts. At the same time, however, employees' use of these capabilities carries downside risks for the employer.

One issue posed by employee e-mail and Internet use is loss of efficiency. Recent studies show that businesses lost an estimated £5.3 billion to recreational workplace web surfing in 2003.

Another report indicated that employees are costing their companies nearly £1.5 million a year in lost productivity by spending an average of thirty minutes a day using e-mail for personal, non-work-related reasons.

Another challenge is the risk that employees' computer use will expose the company to legal liability.

For example, according to another survey, almost 72% of the pornographic sites on the Internet are visited during work hours. Openly viewing sexually explicit websites or sending offensive material obtained from the web may create a hostile work environment. Moreover, inappropriate messages sent over the company's e-mail system could expose the company to harassment, defamation, or other claims.

One study found that more than 50% of employees had received pornographic, sexist, or racist e-mails at work.

Still another challenge is the possibility that employees will use the Internet in a way that undermines or violates the employer's rights, interests, and practices. Some employees, for example, may use email to disclose the employer's trade secrets or proprietary information, or to engage in inappropriate contacts with competitors or customers.

So what's the solution for today's employers?

To reduce these risks, employers must monitor their employees' use of e-mail and Internet access in the workplace. Accordingly, employers should be familiar with the law in this area and should implement policies and practices that minimize the risk of lawsuits or enforcement actions.

With such policies in place employers may monitor their e-mail and Internet systems, and employees will conform their actions to the reality that their employer may view their messages.

Policies should be tailored to the workplace environment in which they will exist. For example, in many contexts such as telecommuting the line between business and personal use may be very grey while in other contexts e-mail or Internet access may be provided to an employee only for a clearly defined, limited purpose and thus the lines between acceptable and unacceptable use may be clear.

Employers need to take these various factors into consideration when drawing up their policies. Generally however, an effective policy should inform employees that the employer is the owner of the e-mail or Internet system and that this includes all communications and stored information. It should also include a statement of the purposes for which the system is to be used as well as the discipline that an employee can expect to face for abuse of the system.

There should be a statement advising employees that they should not expect privacy in communications made over the system and that those communications will be monitored to ensure that the employer's property is being used only for authorized purposes.

An employer may also want to include a non-exclusive list of examples of the kind of use that the employer considers unauthorized personal use, or inappropriate use.

Conclusion:

Electronic communication is becoming more and more vital to the modern workplace. The increase in the number of employees equipped with e-mail and/or Internet access raises risks for employers.

The most effective way to manage those risks is by monitoring the use employees make of the electronic communication tools provided to them, by using an Internet monitoring and surveillance software program. But also to deal with the inherent tension between monitoring and employee privacy is to put in place an explicit e-mail and Internet use policy, which informs employees that their communication will be monitored.

Profile: SavvyApps is a privately owned software company which specialises in leading PC/Internet Monitoring & Surveillance Software Solutions for businesses who want to monitor their employees Internet usage.

If you would like to learn more about how PC/Internet Monitoring Software can help your business or would like some more ideas please use the link below:

PC/Internet Monitoring & Surveillance Software

In The News:

Small Business of the Year: RJ Thieneman  Louisville Business First
Thankful for small business  Chicago Daily Herald
Small Business of the Year: Mayan Café  Louisville Business First

Leverage The Power of Publicity For Your Small Business

Your business is only as good as the number of... Read More

Measuring Your Way to Success

Are you a motivational speaker who consistently gets rave reviews... Read More

Top 7 Small Business Tax Tips

Here are seven ways for owners of small businesses to... Read More

11 Things Small Business Owners Can Learn From Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

1. Everyone Makes A Difference ? Despite not letting him... Read More

Why Do Franchisors have Exclusive Territories

The reason we Franchisors call it an exclusive territory is... Read More

How To Get Slightly Famous in Print

Early in my career, I wrote an article for a... Read More

Top Ten Resolves for Building Your Business in 2005

1. Resolve to build a consistent network system.Since referrals are... Read More

ADH Will Make Your Life More Productive & Your Life More Profitable

What is a Virtual Assistant?? A Virtual Assistant is that... Read More

Loose Lips Sink Ships - The Fastest Way to Put Yourself Out of Business

I agree that knowledge should be free, but the next... Read More

The Greatest Challenges the Internet Consultant Faces!

While there are few career paths that some would call... Read More

Small Business Computer Security, the Basics

Anyone in business today realizes both the natural dependency on... Read More

Old Data in Database Marketing Software

Database Problems in MarketingI have been working on a direct... Read More

Detailing Business Options

So you want to get into the auto detailing business... Read More

Find Some Sample Payroll Check Stubs on the Net for Easy Reference

Starting a business? For many people, the bravery to venture... Read More

Community Relations Strategy for Small Business

Does your company have a community relation strategy? Have you... Read More

Increase the Wealth in Your Community

Many of us have noticed how some nearby communities seem... Read More

5 Small Business Management Questions to Help Choose Marketing Programs

As small business managers, we juggle limited resources in a... Read More

Presentations and Sales Automotive Detailers

Many auto detailers fall short in their sales presentations. I... Read More

Keeping your Business Alive

As long as you eat and breathe you will stay... Read More

If You Want To Be Remembered...

Send handwritten notes. That applies whether you're a guy or... Read More

Debit and ATM Card Advice for Small Businesses

Your business account comes with an ATM, Debit card. Pick... Read More

Operating Your Small Business ? Everything Really Is a Project

Do you operate your business as a series of projects,... Read More

Choosing A Business Thats Right For You

Q: I really want to start my own business, but... Read More

Justice In Action

During the 1980 presidential campaign, candidate Ronald Reagan vowed, if... Read More

Outsourcing ? A Positive Approach For Small Businesses

Outsourcing is the strategic use of outside resources to perform... Read More