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90% Internet Surfing, 10% Work

There are 16 working days to go until the big day and the atmosphere in the office is becoming distinctly Christmassy. The advent calendar is up, our secret Santa has been drawn and the team is planning our office decorations and themed window display.

The UK seems to have adopted the American Black Friday habit, with many people trying to grab a bargain before Christmas. Last year UK shoppers spent £3.3bn over the Black Friday - Cyber Monday weekend. It was all rather frenzied and caused a number of site crashes.This year there didn’t seem to be as much of a mad rush for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Perhaps it’s because so many were online.

But there is still work to be done! Are your employees using their work computers to shop for the best deals rather than working?

A year ago one of our clients hired a candidate through an agency on a temp-to-perm basis. He started off as a good worker but the quality and quantity of his work rapidly decreased over a very short period of time. A colleague mentioned to a senior member of staff that she had noticed him spending a lot of his time accessing online shops from his work computer. The businesses internet policy stated that employees must not use the internet for personal use during working hours unless previously agreed with senior management. Our client investigated his internet history and found that he had been accessing a number of online stores and had even upgraded his phone whilst at work. He was promptly released back into the wild.

If you are concerned about an employee's internet history, here are my tips on how to nip unauthorised internet use in the bud.

  • If you don’t have one already, create an internet policy. Make sure you include any browsing or shopping limitations. Having a policy in place will allow you to set out employee responsibilities.
  • If you allow employees to use the internet in their own time specify what usage is acceptable and when.
  • The policy should give you express permission to monitor the internet traffic in your business, though it must be done in an appropriate fashion. We make it clear that we reserve the right to do so randomly from time to time and when we have reasonable grounds for belief that we have reasonable cause. Without such permission, you will not be able to challenge an employee.
  • Remind employees of your internet policy and that if any evidence of a breach of your rules is found it may be used as part of a discipline.
  • If an employee breaches your rules and it is only minor, an informal conversation resulting in some written guidance may be appropriate. If an employee continues to persistently use the internet for personal use, investigate the matter and start a formal process.

We deal with the good, the bad and the ugly of HR. If you need help resolving problems with internet surfing employees or any other HR issues, give us a call on 01908 262628.

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