More UK companies than ever are monitoring email and Internet use by their employees. Three-quarters of organisations surveyed by The Work Foundation (formerly The Industrial Society) have, or are developing, ‘netiquette’ policies that determine what their employees can and cannot do with company email and Internet systems.
According to The Work Foundation’s survey, 66% of respondents monitor website access, 65% monitor the content of email inboxes and 43% screen email messages for inappropriate words or content. Almost a quarter (23%) of these organisations would dismiss an employee for violating these policies. Despite this widespread monitoring, around one in ten organisations do not inform employees that it is taking place, in particular in smaller businesses. Nineteen per cent of companies with fewer than 100 employees, for example, do not give written notice that they are monitoring employees’ email use, while 17% do not give any warning about web monitoring.
However, monitoring is more common in larger companies. According to The Work Foundation’s research, 62% of organisations with more than 2,500 employees monitor emails and this percentage is even higher in the utilities industry and the financial services sectors. Suprisingly, IT companies are the least likely to have formal policies in place.