Survey shows scale of work web misuse

Employers are having to deal with a stream of complaints about staff wasting
time on the internet and accessing porn and other non-work websites, research

The survey by Personnel Today and Websense reveals that half of employers
have received complaints about staff visiting porn websites, 26 per cent had
complaints about employees accessing personal e-mail sites and 23 per cent for
accessing chat rooms.

Four out 10 organisations have also received complaints about staff wasting
work time on the web, even though almost 90 per cent of employers have policies
on internet use.

The study reveals that where internet misuse has been identified, 56 per
cent of employers have responded by speaking to the individual concerned
informally, 29 per cent have given a verbal warning and 28 per cent have issued
a written warning.

The survey of 544 HR professionals finds that nearly 30 per cent of
employers have disciplined staff for web abuse and 23 per cent have dismissed
staff over the issue.

Of those companies that dismissed staff for internet misuse, 69 per cent did
so for pornography, 10 per cent were dismissed for visiting chat rooms, 9 per
cent for accessing personal e-mail sites and 5 per cent for
racist/discriminatory sites.

Stephen Levinson, a partner at K-Legal, said the survey results show how
important it is for employers to properly communicate their internet policies
to employees on a regular basis.

"Employers must lay down their own rules and be clear about the
sanctions against people who break them," he said.

The research reveals that more than 60 per cent of HR departments have some
form of responsibility for dealing with complaints internet misuse.

It finds that 29 per cent of HR departments have sole responsibility for
handling internet misuse at work, while 30 per cent have joint responsibility
with the IT department. Two per cent of HR departments share responsibility
with line and general management.

Nearly 60 per cent of HR professionals think employees who have their own
offices are more likely to misuse the internet than those who work in open plan

Survey results show that 64 per cent of HR professionals are not concerned
that staff can access non-work websites, even though they estimate employees
waste, on average, two hours a week on personal web surfing.

Coming soon: Exclusive research by Personnel Today into employee

By Ben Willmott

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