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Over the years, the world economy has gradually been changing from an industrial age to an information age. Technological advancements, such as e-mail and the Internet have revolutionized the economy by becoming the integral parts of the daily business activities. However, most employees tend to misuse company resources for personal gain utilizing the new communication and connection medium. As a result, it significantly affects both organizational performance and employees’ commitment to realizing company goals. In this respect, a need to monitor employees’ activities during working hours has attracted considerable attention of not only business enterprises but also legal entities. In fact, some legislation mandates digital collection of information about employees’ activities, which raises the question of ethical values. As such, there are many divisive views on whether monitoring employees on networks is appropriate for business. Consequently, there is a need to find an adequate information system and technology that offers an effective solution to the revolutionized industrial workplace.
The Problems That Arise from Giving Employees Access to Email and the Internet during Working Hours
Analyzing the case study “Monitoring Employees on Networks: Unethical or Good Business”, there is a variety of problems that emerge as a result of giving employees access to email and the Internet during working hours. The findings of a study on employees’ activities showed that workers waste 25 percent of work time on private browsing. Moreover, 90 percent of the total workforce send and receive personal emails during working hours. Thus, the most significant problem is wastage of organization productive hours. The time that employees lost because of their engagement in personal browsing and sending emails could be utilized and channeled to other activities that are beneficial to the organization. For instance, instead of non-work related surfing, an employee could be selling or marketing organizational products and services, thereby enhancing corporate performance. In reality, the practice of using the Internet for personal purposes results in reduced productivity.
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Likewise, casual surfing and exchange of personal e-mails generate substantial amount of traffic on the corporate network. Most employees who engage in these practices are also likely to visit pornographic websites that contain much spam and junk files, thereby overloading the organization’s network. For instance, Xerox e-mail system faced closure as a result of junk and pornographic e-mails sent by their employees. Therefore, a business could lose some revenue, which stems from private use of emails and web surfing. Another critical problem with giving employees access to email and the Internet during working hours is damage to the organization’s reputation and image, which could significantly reduce the organization’s market shares. This issue is prevalent because the employee could use the organizational resources during web surfing and sending e-mails that are involved in illegal activities. In this context, the organization is held liable for the employees’ actions and could, thus, face hefty legal penalties, lawsuits, and even adverse publicity.
Discussion about Whether Managers Should Monitor Employees’ Email and Internet Usage
The findings of the case study have demonstrated that 78 percent of managers in the US monitor their employees’ web activities, 65 percent block access to particular sites, and only 55 percent retain data transmission via the Internet. From a legal standpoint, managers should monitor their employees’ e-mail and Internet usage since the information shared via these channels of communication is confidential and can serve as evidence during various types of lawsuits. In this regard, managers should incorporate policy limitation on the use of the Internet or find ways that allow organizations to monitor their employee’s activities. More precisely, they should collect, store, and analyze information that their workers access during working hours. However, they should inform the employees that their online activities are under scrutiny and introduce the circumstances under which the employees are allowed to use the organizational facilities.
Nevertheless, from an ethical perspective of the employees, managers should not monitor employees’ Internet and e-mail usage. The reason lies in the fact that all employees are entitled to the right to privacy, and, thus, monitoring their Internet traffic infringes on their rights. They often feel that control of their activities is invasive, and managers could gain access to personal information that does not necessarily relate to indecent workplace behavior. However, this is substantially connected with the fact that all employees are required to sign a contract of organizational policies that oblige not to misuse the organization’s facilities. As a result, engagement in activities, such as downloading pornographic videos, playing online games, and sending personal e-mails during work hours are undoubtedly socially unacceptable and unethical from a manager’s perspective. To others, monitoring is a security measure to prevent leakage of corporate documents via e-mails that their employees tend to send; thus, it is essential for managers to monitor their employees’ computers.
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An Effective E-Mail and Web Use Policy for a Company
An efficient E-mail and web use policy for a company should definitely include precise information on the rules that the employees should adhere to. In this respect, the staff should state the forbidden site and the type of job activities that they access and share via the Internet during work hours. Likewise, the policy should include the consequences of violating any of the outlined rules and regulations with the specification that any sent information using organization’s resources belongs to the company. An effective policy should also be fair and flexible so that it is not limited to the organization’s specific needs but also offers the employees some freedom during work breaks. Therefore, the most effective solution should allow managers to monitor employees with the aim of protecting both the organization and the workforce. Thus, it should take into account legal, ethical, and social concerns of all the parties involved.
Given the latest trends and advancements in Information Technology, an Information System would be the most suitable solution to the problems raised in the case. Corroborating Maier’s argument (2013), it is advisable to apply the Information System, because it entails an integration of all organizational hardware, a telecommunications network, and software used by employees to filter, collect, store, and disseminate information. Thus, their central role lies in the organizational management, including collection of information and its corporate distribution, monitoring of company’s operations, and assisting in decision making. To efficiently monitor employees on the network, it is recommended to employ such information systems as the Knowledge Management System since it can locate information, search for specific data within organizations, and have a relational database that classifies various categories of information together (Maier, 2013). Additionally, it is very flexible in terms of interface. However, it lacks the development by a cross-functional team that could ease the worries of the employees, managers, and legal counsel. In this respect, a knowledge management system would be the best alternative solution as it satisfies the needs of the employees, managers, and law regulation and ensures improved performance.
In conclusion, the essay has outlined the problems that arise from giving employees access to email and the Internet. Some of the issues discussed are wastage of official working hours while employees surf the web and send personal emails, generation of traffic on organization’s network, thereby reducing its speed, and damage to the organization’s reputation that results from accessing pornographic content. As such, on the one hand, managers are obliged to monitor their subordinates to resolve the problems. On the other hand, it leads to other issues related to the opposite views of law representatives and ethics. Nevertheless, introduction of the Knowledge Management System is considered the most suitable solution to the abovementioned problems as it attempts to balance the opposing stands while monitoring employees to improve performance.