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Internet Abuse is Theft

Avoid Employee Internet Abuse to Increase Productivity

Written By: Greg Forrer

When employees abuse PC and Internet privileges – and the evidence suggests a vast majority of them do -- they are stealing from their employer.  

Even though several recent studies have suggested the number is trending higher, conservative estimates suggest employees with a high-speed connection waste at least one hour a day on the Internet, costing an employer an average of $5,000 a year in productivity alone. That’s a $250,000 drain for a 50-person company. 

In addition to the monetary impact estimated when one simply “does the math,” frivolous and inappropriate activity at the PC and on the Internet also place an employer’s business at risk for network disruptions from malware as well as legal action based on activities such as downloading copyrighted music or harassing coworkers via email or chat. 

Because it’s unlikely an employer can look over the shoulders of their employees all day, employee monitoring software is the answer … it’s a ‘must have’ for businesses of all types and sizes interested in maximizing productivity, minimizing liability, and attaining compliance with worldwide financial and governmental regulations.  

You Have the Right To Know 

To protect the bottom line and perhaps the very livelihood of a company, employers have the right to know if their employees are on task and compliant with company policy. An employer’s right to monitor employees using company equipment has been affirmed in most jurisdictions worldwide, and Canada is no exception.  

Easily See Who’s Doing What 

Recent advances in employee monitoring software permit an employer to easily see -- via management-friendly charts and graphs -- answers to many important questions about employee PC and Internet activity like:

  • Which employees are spending the most time surfing web sites?
  • Which employees are attempting to visit blocked web sites?
  • What are my employees searching for on the Internet?
  • Who is sending the most emails with attachments?
  • Who is arriving to work late and leaving early? 

In addition to providing such high-level insight, leading employee monitoring software lets an employer “drill down” to see everything employees do at the PC and on the Internet, including: 

  • Emails sent and received
  • Chats/instant messages
  • Keystrokes typed
  • Web sites visited
  • Applications launched
  • Network connections
  • Files copied

Leading employee monitoring software should also include a Screen Snapshots feature. Screen snapshots can be taken as often as every second, creating the equivalent of a digital surveillance tape showing the exact sequence of everything employees do at the PC, step by step. Employers can play back the screen snapshots just like watching a movie. 

Make Monitoring Perfectly Clear 

Open communication is a key to maximizing employee monitoring software’s impact on productivity. Update or create an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) specifically addressing PC and Internet activity, stating that employees have no expectation of privacy when using company equipment. Require that the AUP be signed as a condition of employment. Further, you can use a software option to implement a PC Logon Notice, alerting the PC user to the existence of monitoring. Employees must accept the terms of this notice each time they access a PC at work. 

A staff presentation can be highly effective. 

Real Success from Real People 

Because of concerns about low productivity based on Internet misuse, MIS Manager Fredrick Smith of the Florida Commission on Human Relations in Tallahassee, FL recently implemented a leading employee monitoring software program. As part of the agency’s disclosure, Smith conducted a full staff demonstration of the monitoring software using a laptop and projector connected to the agency’s network. 

“I pulled up the program and I showed them the system … and told them you can’t beat the system,” said Smith. “After the presentation, numbers got better, productivity increased. Employees became more conscious of their activity on the computer, and spent more time working than playing.” (To learn more from the complete employee monitoring Success Story, see Helpful Links below.) 

Employee Monitoring Rewarding, Affordable 

The productivity rewards and additional safeguards of company-wide monitoring are significant, yet the cost is surprisingly low. A 25-user license of a popular employee monitoring software program for Windows networks – including easy-to-create, management-friendly graphic reports -- can be purchased for approximately $2,000. And, with the right solution, a full return on investment is typically achieved in less than three months, sometimes within 30 days. 

Installation and setup of employee monitoring software is handled easily by an in-house IT professional or consultant. 

Helpful Links: 

Implementing an Internet Acceptable Use Policy:  

Employee Monitoring Success Story: 

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