COMPUTER BUSINESS REVIEW

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Issue Date: August 2002 (es)

Rethinking employee Internet management

1 August 2002

Companies which adopt a zero tolerance approach to nonwork related Internet and e-mail use could be suffering extraneous expenses in recruitment, production delays and turnover costs warns NetXactics, the local distributor for WebSpy.
Most organisations are aware of the need for some type of regulation on how employees access and utilise the Internet resources they are provided with at work, but not all are being proactive in monitoring the situation. Some organisations have over reacted, or acted too late with the penalties for misuse running the risk of losing quality staff or exposing the company to costly wrongful dismissal litigation.
Employee Internet use, or rather misuse, is on the rise, leading to firings and a growing climate of corporate misunderstanding and distrust. The major concerns for managers as a result of this increase are legal liability and reduced worker productivity.
According to Brett Myroff, NetXactics CEO, organisations need to take a more proactive and responsible approach to employee Internet management. "It is a given that in today's modern-day office, people do and should have e-mail and indeed Internet privileges," says Myroff. "But to protect against unscrupulous acts or dishonesty, companies not only need to have the relevant software in place, they also need detailed Acceptable Usage Policies and an approach to remedial action that is reflective of developing a productive relationship between employees and managers.
"Many remedies adopted by companies to combat Internet misuse address only part of the issue, or even compound the problem. Expensive blocking and filtering software will prevent some instances of misuse but can often provide organisations with a false sense of security that their organisation is now protected from Internet misuse. Harsh penalties too can cause problems. Whether it is reduced employee morale, wrongful dismissal claims or the loss of good staff who just suffered from a lack of guidance, these are all symptoms of a company that has inadequate Internet management policies."
A multilevel approach
Myroff recommends a multilevel approach to employee Internet management that starts with a complete and ongoing understanding of how Internet and e-mail resources are being utilised. "Once organisations have developed an understanding of how the Internet is being used, they can then identify why resources are used in this manner and work on a policy for use of the Internet." Myroff says, "It has been shown that if Internet and e-mail monitoring is done transparently, employees respond well and take a more responsible role in the management of the resource."
Brett Myroff, 011 444 4000
NetXactics, 011 444 4000, brettm@netxactics.co.za


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