Young, K. S., & Case, C. J. (2004). Internet abuse in the workplace: new trends in risk management. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 7(1), 105-111.
The journal assesses the effectiveness of the measures put in place to control internet addiction among employees. Contemporary organizations acknowledge the position of the internet as a useful tool in organizations albeit it brings some negative consequences. Uncontrolled use of the internet whether during work or off work hours leads to an addiction condition where one cannot do without the internet. The journal is founded on research conducted over a period of 6 months in many organizations. The study involved 50 surveys that were administered to employees across all levels of management. Due to diversity, the study accounted for differences in policies of internet use, management training, and all other strategies employed in each organization to deter employees from uncontrolled use of the internet. The journal aimed at enlightening employees on the position of internet addiction in the organizational culture and proposes ways that can be employed to curb the concern. It also explored areas for future research and explained perceived failure models.
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The internet has risen to become a significant need in the contemporary world. About 70% of all organizations provide internet to their employees. With the great coverage of the internet, there is a higher risk of internet abuse and subsequently addiction. Websense Inc. surveyed internet use in 224 organizations to assess their interaction and measures to combat internet addiction. Employees used the internet for online chatting, gaming, accessing pornographic content, online shopping while at work and following sports online. 64% of the surveyed organizations had disciplined some employees for internet abuse while at work. 30% had terminated the employment contracts of some employees due to issues related to internet addiction.
Vault.com researched and concluded that organizations lose more than $54 billion per annum due to productivity laxity arising from internet abuse in the workplaces. 73% of the working generation in the United States accesses the internet at least once while at work while 15% access it only while at work. Accessing the internet while at work may be useful for quick finds and updates of online databases. However, some employees abuse it and are unable to control their urge to perform personal internet activities. The problem is further heightened by the advent of social media. The New York Times made the headlines for firing 22 employees for alleged misuse of the internet. The employees shared some electronic mails that were deemed as offensive and against their responsibility to the company. Xerox fired 40 employees for shopping online while at work and watching pornography. Many other organizations including Dow Chemical Company and Merck have in the recent past terminate employee job contracts over misuse of the internet and addiction.
Most organizations respond to internet addiction among their employees by implementing surveillance software that monitors the activity of the employees. The software does so by taking screenshots, logging internet data into a database, monitoring keystroke to show what was typed and general monitoring of all web activities. Approximately 89% of all organizations monitor employee internet usage in a variety of ways. The American Management Association surveyed 1627 managers and found out that 45% of organizations with a workforce of more than 1000 monitor all electronic communications among their employees. Employee internet usage needs to be controlled due to the legal liabilities accrued by a company by virtue of allowing employees to use computers registered to the company. Employees may access illegal content such as child pornography, terrorist agendas, copyrighted material among others using company computers. An integrated management department is thus needed to monitor internet traffic and prevent instances of occurrence of the aforementioned problems.
The survey in the journal was administered on online platforms and had a provision for anonymity. However, 55% of those who took part in it chose to include their names. Online surveys are faster to administer and reach out to more people compared to physical surveys that are delivered by postal mail. Of the 52 surveys conducted, 27 were directed to small enterprises that had not more than 100 employees. 13 surveys were from medium-sized organizations with not more than 500 employees while 10 were from large organizations with more than 500 employees. 2 surveys were discarded since they provided flawed and incomplete data. 40% of the surveyed organizations employed online surveillance of employee internet activity while 36% used monitoring methods while 18 percent observed a zero-tolerance approach to internet abuse.
The organizations employed three important strategies to combat internet abuse. The first strategy was the implementation of an internet use policy. The policy stated the dos and don'ts of company internet and guided the general liabilities involved with internet abuse. Only 50% of the surveyed organizations employed an internet use policy. The second strategy was management training. Under this strategy, employees would be trained on how to effectively use the internet for work duties and effectively manage time to prevent internet addiction. Only 20% of the surveyed organizations used management training.the third strategy was the rehabilitation of employees who were suspected of internet addiction. Under this strategy, employees who were observed to be regular users of the internet while at work would be identified and subjected to a rehabilitation program to help them manage their time more effectively. Only a mere 2% of the surveyed firms used rehabilitation. Most organizations used termination of employees to deter others from internet abuse. However, they did not offer formal statements on the numbers of employees who were terminated at any time due to internet abuse.
Of the three strategies evaluated in the research, management training was found to be the most effective with about 40% efficiency compared to rehabilitation and use of internet policies. Small firms mostly used management training to deal with cases of employee internet addition with an implementation percentage of about 60%. Conversely, medium-sized firms mainly employed the use of internet policies to control employee internet addiction with an implementation rate of about 36%. Similar to small firms, large firms primarily engaged management training to control internet addiction with about 30% implementation rate. However, in large firms, internet policies came in second with a rate of about 24%. Therefore, large firms use a combination of strategies due to their diverse employee base to make sure that they appeal to as many employees as possible. Integrated methods allow address across all levels of management with regard to personal differences.
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10 Specialized Terms
Internet refers to a worldwide network of computers that are interconnected using standard protocols of communication. The internet provides all sorts of information from music, pictures, research and all types of data accessible via websites run by authorities known as administrators.
Management training is the art of teaching employees the skills of planning, controlling, directing, organizing and other useful skills in a formal workplace. Human beings respond to learning in the environment and management training utilizes this very aspect. Historically, management roles were deemed as solely managerial responsibilities making it hard to run an organization effectively. Contemporary organizations acknowledge the role of self-control, and through management training, employees are taught how to be better managers of their delegated responsibilities. In the context of the journal, management training is bound to make employees better managers of their time while using the internet to rid excessive usage and prevalence of abuse.
Internet use policies are rules and guidelines set aside by an organization to guide how employees use the internet. The policies range from the allowed processes to use organization internet for the accomplishment of work responsibilities. The policies enlighten employees on the responsible use of the internet and state the terms and conditions associated with the use of the company's computers. The internet policies may also state provisions for allowed instances where employees can use the organization's internet network for personal matters.
Rehabilitation is the process of watering-down a lousy behavior and recovering a former self that is acceptable in society. Rehabilitating employees who are addicted to the internet is bound to change their internet usage and allow them to restore their primary productivity in job positions. Rehabilitation aims to cause positive change in behavior.
Cyber surveillance is the act of providing oversight over the internet-based actions of another person. It involves the use of specialized software that overrun barriers to personal communication and privacy and takes note of all activities conducted on a specific computer or computer network. In the context of the journal, cyber surveillance would allow management to know the actions of employees on the internet and point out employees who used too much time on irrelevant activities that subsequently lowered their performance.
The collective term for all programs in a computer and other technological devices. Software guide the operations of devices by providing sets of instructions as programs allowing the device to function. Examples of software include graphic design software, word processing software, database management programs among others.
The term online means under the control of a computer system. If a task is accomplished online, connectivity to software is needed and a device such as a computer or a smartphone. Employees addicted to the internet accessed online activities such as shopping, gaming, watching multimedia content among others.
Job turnover means the replacement of former employees with others. When employees leave an organization, new ones are hired, and thus turnover is realized. In the context of the journal, turnover issues arise when internet-addicted employees are fired and new ones hired.
Refers to information that cannot be denied or proven regarding a subject matter. It is usually informal in nature and cannot be utilized in the decision-making process in an organization. Internet usage policies eliminate anecdotal evidence and provide substantial evidence to support claims of internet abuse among employees especially when surveillance software is in the application.
Internet addiction is the uncontrollable urge to use the worldwide web. It is mostly manifested in people who spend much time in online processes whether at work or at home. It arises when a person is unable to live without performing internet-based leading to degrading of productivity in places of work and involvement in internet-based problems such as abuse.
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