Employers find online timewasting more of a problem than employees accessing porn websites

Three out of four employers have had to deal with employees who waste time online rather than doing the job they are paid for, according to a study by Personnel Today’s sister publication, Employment Review.

The survey found that most organisations also had to take action when employees sent inappropriate e-mails (76%) or accessed inappropriate e-mails (68%).

Blogging appears not to be a major cause of difficulty, with just one in five employers (21%) having experience of employees posting damaging comments online. And only one in 17 (6%) had dealt with employees misusing memory cards.

All employers in the survey tried to ban access to pornographic websites, but there was less consensus about gambling (banned by 88%), game sites (76% ban), social networking sites (59%), and online shopping (51% ban).

Most organisations (72%) also tried to ban all non-work related e-mails, and using e‑mail at the expense of other forms of communication (32%).

The survey involved HR practitioners at 83 organisations (employing 513,845 staff) with formal e-mail and internet policies in place.

But HR has key role in policing e-mail…

HR practitioners take a lead role in developing employer policies on e‑communication issues at nearly four out of 10 organisations (39%), the Employment Review study revealed.

The findings suggest that HR departments are more heavily involved in developing than in implementing policies. Although, at nearly one in 10 organisations (9%), HR plays no role at all in implementing e-communications policies.

More detailed figures also show that HR has a more pivotal role in companies operating in the services sector compared with manufacturing. Almost all instances where HR played no part in policy implementation were in manufacturing firms.

The survey found that four out of 10 (42%) of employers had implemented or updated their e-communications policy in the past year, with a further 44% having done so between one and three years ago.

The most common reason for introducing or updating policies was the need to keep up with advances in technology (72%). Other reasons were a need to comply with regulations (60%), as part of an organisational initiative (45%) and in response to a workplace incident (26%).

… and most have confidence in their own abilities

Most HR practitioners feel confident that they have the knowledge and understanding to deal with the issues raised by e-mail and internet use.

But many respondents to the Employment Review survey admitted that it is hard to keep employment policies up to date as internet technologies develop.

More than nine out of 10 practitioners (93%) felt confident in dealing with these issues, and less than one in five (17%) believed it was primarily an IT issue rather than something to be dealt with by HR.

While a substantial proportion (46%) felt there was no problem keeping policies up to date, more than half (54%) saw it as a chore.

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