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Internet Abuse in the Workplace

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Modern society is the internet age. The internet has been adopted in different industries including business and it has its drawbacks in business. It can cause internet abuse in the workplace. Internet abuse in the workplace is an unacceptable behavior which means surfing the internet for personal affairs in the workplace and breaking principles of corporations. Employees can get access to the internet in the workplace and do non-work related network activities. Non-work related network activities can distract employees’ attention and they can not accomplish their job tasks efficiently. Internet abuse may cause loss in terms of productivity, revenue and corporate image. Corporations need to pay attention to this problem. The purpose of this essay is to evaluate solutions which are used to solve internet abuse in the workplace. This essay will be divided into two main parts. The first part focuses on finding causes of internet abuse in the workplace and describing these causes. The analysis and evaluation of solutions are in the second part.

The causes of internet abuse in the workplace are the key aspect to solve this issue. Young (2001) shows that the proportion of staff who send maximum 5 private emails per day in the workplace is 47%, the proportion of staff who send maximum 10 private emails per day in the workplace is 32% and the proportion of staff who receive 20 private emails per day in the workplace is 28%. In the workplace, Young (2001) also found that 20% of employees log on to cybersex websites (Young, 2001). In modern society, people are accustomed to using social network software such as checking their E-mail, Facebook and Twitter. Data shows that the number of registered users on Facebook is approximately 600 million until April 2011 (Effing et al, 2011).

People rely on social network software, even people are in the workplace. It is the main cause of internet abuse in the workplace. The other cause is a lack of job satisfaction. A job satisfaction survey containing salary, chance of promotion, colleagues, working process, conditional bonus, the essence of the work itself and administration is used heavily. The result shows that employees who have low job satisfaction, abuse the internet in workplace more than those who are satisfied with their jobs (Galletta, 2003; Polak, 2003). When staff can not get self-satisfaction and pleasure from their jobs, it can lead to internet abuse at work instead of accomplishing their own job tasks.

Data showed by Young (2001) and a survey about job satisfaction by Galletta (2003) and Polak (2003) have indicated that social network software and job satisfaction are two of main causes of internet abuse in the workplace. Social networking is an unavoidable activity in the internet age. People can start to contact social network software when they are children and, therefore, they are used to regarding social network software as a means for their social activities since they are at an early age (Griffiths, 2003). People use social network software to maintain friendship and are accustomed to checking emails Facebook and Twitter for news shared by their friends 24 hours a day. People can lack self-discipline in terms of using social network sites at appropriate occasions.

Even though they are working in offices now, they may want to check their social network software as well. Job satisfaction is generally used to evaluate employees’ feeling about their jobs. When employees are not satisfied with their jobs, they may consider that they receive unfair treatment. This thought helps them to excuse causes for internet abuse in the workplace (Woon, 2004; Pee. 2004). Levels of job satisfaction have a connection to internet abuse in the workplace. High level of job satisfaction means little internet abuse in the workplace and low level of job satisfaction means more internet abuse in the workplace.

The aim of analyzing causes is to find appropriate solutions and solutions based on causes can be effective. The first solution is firewall, which can set a barrier between secure network and unsecure network. Employers can use firewall to control the content of websites based on some rules. Employees can only find information which is permitted by their employers on the internet in the workplace. Chinese government has already adopted this solution which is called Great Firewall to control the internet. The government of China needs citizens to obey national policy. The Chinese government requires that people within Chinese territory must obey the laws and regulations of the country.

To do this, it resorts to censoring content on the internet and managing providers of internet service (Deibert et al, 2011). China reaches its goal through firewall. A firewall can restrict what people can see on the internet in a country which has 1.3 billion people. To a company which usually has thousands of employees, a firewall can be effective. Setting firewall on the internet in the workplace has its drawbacks. It is expensive to purchase, set up, and run. Running a firewall can often require a team of employees to monitor it in working hours.

The second solution is electronic monitoring system. Electronic monitoring system can record internet traces made by employees and save content of visited websites. A survey by the center for online addiction shows that 58% of employers choose electronic monitoring system to control internet abuse in the workplace for entertainment. The data from the survey also shows that 47% of employers use electronic monitoring software to reduce personal internet use for guaranteeing productivity of corporations (Chen et al, 2008). Employers can assess employees’ performance through electronic monitoring system. If employees never surf the internet for personal reasons in the workplace, employers can give them bonus such as reward.

On the contrary, if employees abuse the internet for non-work related activities, employers can discipline them. This way is supported in a research by Young (2003) and Case (2003). The AMA (American Management Association) researched 2100 companies in the U.S. The survey shows that 38% of them use electronic monitoring system to check staff’s email and 54% of them monitor visited internet websites. With the help of electronic monitoring system, 17% of these surveyed companies have terminated staff, 26% and 20% have given formal and informal warnings respectively (Young,2003; Case,2003). Considering reward and punishment, employees can be motivated by electronic monitoring system and reduce internet abuse in the workplace.

However, electronic monitoring system may cause privacy issues. Data issued by The Center for Business Ethics reports that 92% of employers adopt electronic monitoring system to supervise and record emails, phone calls, computer files, internet trace and video scrutiny. The AMA (American Management Association) also shows that 20% of employers don not have written official monitoring rules before using electronic monitoring system in the workplace (Tabak, 2005; Smith, 2005). It is the disadvantage of electronic monitoring system.

This essay finds social network software and a lack of job satisfaction are two of main causes which lead to internet abuse in the workplace. Setting firewall which restricts what people can see on the internet and electronic monitoring system which supervises employees’ behaviors on the internet can be used to solve internet abuse in the workplace. Both of two solutions in this essay are compulsive approaches. Measures which can motivate employees’ subjective initiative to change their inappropriate behaviors may be more effective. This essay shows that performance assessment such as giving bonus and discipline to employees can be used relating to electronic monitoring system. Further research can examine whether performance assessment can influence employees’ behaviors efficiently or not.

Chen, J. V., Chen, C. C., & Yang, H. H. (2008). An empirical evaluation of key factors contributing to internet abuse in the workplace. Industrial Management & Data Systems, 108(1), 87-106.

Deibert, R., Zittrain, J. L., Palfrey, J., & Rohozinski, R. (2012). Access contested: security, identity, and resistance in Asian cyberspace. MIT Press, PP. 177-194.

Effing, R., van Hillegersberg, J., & Huibers, T. (2011). Social media and political participation: are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube democratizing our political systems?. In Electronic participation (pp. 25-35). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Galletta, D. F., & Polak, P. (2003). An empirical investigation of antecedents of Internet abuse in the workplace. SIGHCI 2003 Proceedings, 14.

Griffiths, M. (2003). Internet abuse in the workplace: Issues and concerns for employers and employment counselors. Journal of Employment Counseling,40(2), 87-96.

Tabak, F., & Smith, W. P. (2005). Privacy and electronic monitoring in the workplace: A model of managerial cognition and relational trust development.Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 17(3), 173-189.

Woon, I. M., & Pee, L. G. (2004). Behavioral factors affecting Internet abuse in the workplace-an empirical investigation. SIGHCI 2004 Proceedings, 5.

Young, K. S. (2001). Managing employee internet abuse: a comprehensive plan to increase your productivity and reduce liability. Employee Internet Management, 1-37.

Young, K. S., & Case, C. J. (2003). Employee internet abuse: Risk management strategies and their effectiveness. Proceedings of the American Society of Business and Behavioral Sciences, 10, 21-24.

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