Employers Clamp Down on Personal Web Use at Work

December 9, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Email | Privacy & Security | Social Media | Staffing

Nearly one-third (32%) of US workers say they plan to do online holiday shopping at work this season, up from 29% last year, according to a study by CareerBuilder, which also found that 5% of companies have fired employees for doing their holiday shopping at work.

The study found that rampant personal use of the internet at work has forced a significant number of companies to rethink their policies regarding employee internet and email use.

Personal Use Rampant

Nearly six in 10 (58%) workers in the survey admit to using internet for non-work related activities while at the office and 21% typically spend one hour or more on personal internet use while at work, the survey found.

Moreover, an even larger percentage (61%) of full-time workers report having a social networking profile. Of these social networkers:

  • 51% spend time on their social networking page during the workday; 11% spend one hour or more.
  • 25% include information about their employer in their communications on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace.
  • 15% include company information on Twitter.
  • 13% of respondents with personal blogs say they blog about their companies.
  • 13% of workers are “friends” with their boss on their social networking profile.
  • 22% of workers have separate social networking profiles for personal and business use.

Companies Clamp Down

While? social media is fast becoming a key avenue for employers to promote their brands, products and services and job opportunities, it is also a time-waster among some employees. This double-edged sword is forcing many companies to take second look at how messages about their company are communicated and at how much time employees are spending on social networks:

  • 37% of employers have a policy on whether workers can communicate about the company on social media sites, while 17% have implemented a stricter policy on employees communicating about the company on social media sites in the last year.
  • 21% prohibit employees from communicating about the company.
  • 13% have designated certain employees to post on behalf of the company.
  • 16% monitor social networking profiles of employees and 14% monitor blogs.
  • 20% of employers have fired someone for using the Internet for non-work related activities.
  • Half of employers (50%) block employees from accessing certain Web sites while at work.

Personal Emails

Email is also of some concern to employers, who continue to step up monitoring of these employee communications. Two-thirds of workers report they typically send non-work related emails each day. At the same time, 32% of employers monitor emails, 16% monitor instant messaging, and 8% of employers have fired someone for non-work related emails.

About the survey: The online survey was conducted in the US by Harris Interactive, August 20-September 9, 2009 among 3,163 hiring managers and human resource professionals (employed full-time; not self-employed; with at least significant involvement in hiring decisions; government and non-government) and 4,721 US workers (employed full-time; not self-employed; government and non-government) ages 18+.

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