21st Century Employee Theft: Using the Internet at Work. Is your company clear on its policies?

April 08th, 2008


There is a new type of employee theft that is causing “lawsuits and losses” for employers: excessive use of the internet at work for things other than work. And, with more Millennials entering the workforce, employers believe that it will become an even bigger issue than it has been. Yes, Boomer and Gen Xers are using the internet at work for things other than “business”, but the issue will get bigger if companies don’t get strict about their internet use policies.

1. Have you outlined a policy for employee participation on blogs?

Guess what? This issue is so widespread there’s now a term for it! If you are fired because of a blog it’s called being “dooced”. Heather Armstrong founded, and lost her job a year after starting a blog for writing entries that involved colleagues. She now tells her site visitors: “Never write about work on the Internet unless your boss knows and sanctions the fact that you are writing about work on the Internet.”

Another person who lost his job due to blogging was as a producer at CNN’s “American Morning”. He was a blogger and he was fired when the company discovered his name attached to blog posts written without CNN’s approval. He never identified himself as a CNN employee on the blogs, but CNN company policy is that employees must first get permission to write for a non-CNN outlet.

Sound hardcore? Maybe, maybe not. But you need to determine how YOUR company feels about this and get policies in place. Did you know that a new blog is created every second? Millennials love blogging, as do other generations, but Millennials will more likely be participating in blogging on a regular basis (more that older generations) and your company policies must be UP-DATED to accomodate the changing times.

2. Outline a policy for viewing “those types” of pics AND playing online games.

Millions of people look at porn on their computers at work. I cannot even believe how dumb that it, but whatever. Nonetheless, it’s a HUGE problem. A recent study by the AMA showed that 1/3 of bosses have fired employees for viewing dirty pics/videos at work. That’s a HUGE number!

And make sure your workforce is clear about your policies on playing online games. Is it okay on their lunch break? Or NOT AT ALL at work? Online game play at work is rampant, so make sure you have your policies in order.

3. What about talking dirty?

A very large percentage of employees are talking dirty from their computers, pdas, cell phones and laptops at work. In the same AMA study I mentioned before, more than 25% of bosses have fired employees for sending offensive emails. And because many companies now store/archive employee email correspondence electronically, “talking dirty” can become a liability to employers. Again, get your policy in place because people are sending “sexy” emails and text messages using YOUR property, and/or on your time, and that’s a problem.

Times they are-a-changing! It’s time for your company to dust off its old employee policies and up-date them based on REAL 21st Century issues.

Okay…time to stop blogging and get back to work. Luckily no one can fire me!


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