When your employees are at work, you are paying them for the services they are providing to your company. If they are spending their time browsing questionable websites that are unrelated to the task at hand, they are wasting your money and resources. Not only that, but they also could be putting your company at risk. Many lawsuits are filed based on employees being exposed to offensive subject matter as a result of their co-workers’ online browsing habits.
While a loss of productivity and legal issues are certainly nothing to take lightly, you also need to worry about company secrets or proprietary information falling into the wrong hands because of a slip-up by one of your employees. Tools such as Pen Link and others make surveillance of computers, networks, mobiles and text and email a lot easier.
To top it all off, anytime someone at your company visits a less-than-reputable website, they are putting your computer system at risk. These sites are often filled with viruses or malicious software.
1. Define your policies in writing.
As a business owner, one of your responsibilities is to clearly define what type of behaviour is and isn’t acceptable in terms of using the Internet or other connected devices.
This policy needs to take into account both the security requirements of your company, as well as your employees’ needs for access. Rules should be put in place for everything from email and instant messaging to online surfing and spending time on social networks. Your policy should also address which types of software or programs are acceptable to download and install. Ideally, this information should be compiled into a document that employees sign upon being hired to ensure that they fully understand the policy.
Your policy should also clearly identify what type of monitoring is in place and how electronic records will be handled. Make sure that the person you put in charge of monitoring does not have unlimited power to prevent abuse.
2. Keep your employees up to date.
Help employees understand why you have a digital policy in place. Explaining that it is there to protect your company can help keep them from feeling like they are being targeted.
It is important to be upfront with them about the monitoring so that they know that their activities are being tracked. Oftentimes, just knowing that someone is checking on their activity is enough to keep people from misbehaving online.
Currently, Delaware and Connecticut are the only two states where employers are required by law to notify their employees that their online activities are being monitored. However, all businesses can benefit from keeping employees in the loop regardless of where they are located. It is important to stress the fact that you aren’t trying to be nosy or to find out information about their personal lives. Instead, let them know the business reasons why monitoring is in place. For instance, perhaps you are following a larger corporate policy or are afraid of important trade secrets slipping out. Try to convince your employees to limit their personal emails and interactions to their phone or other privately-owned devices during their off hours rather than using company computers while they should be working.
3. Take advantage of technology.
There are countless different programs out there that can track employee behaviour on everything from computers to mobile phones. Ideally, you should look for a program that flags suspicious activity rather than one that requires you to sort through all of the data on your own. Otherwise, you will have to spend far too long on the task.
It may also be a good idea for you to invest in a filter that limits access to websites that contain pornography or other potentially offensive content.