Due Diligence: an Employer’s Responsibility to Monitor Employee Computer Use

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Due Diligence:
An Employer’s Responsibility to Monitor Employee Computer Use

Are some employers in denial? Like the frog in the pot story, the gradual introduction of complicated electronics into the workplace has left some employers behind in their knowledge of how computer use potentially affects the workplace. While not completely unaware of these dangers, by the time the water heats up beyond jumping out of trouble, they potentially have put their company at risk, if not already in legal woes. This paper is for the employers who are not monitoring, for whatever reason. The three topics presented here concerning production loss, security threats, and a desire to safeguard company reputation should trigger a change from the status quo. Most employers are mindful of and concerned with the wasting of productive work hours with non-work Internet use. Employees who surf the web outside of work-related tasks, play online computer games, and a myriad of other things for personal use rob their company blind. Many staff are just naive of the monetary toll this takes on the company. Equally, employers are sometimes engrossed with other things to notice. Fortunate companies are able to hire IT professionals who can monitor usage. Now, we tend to think of the Internet as the major culprit, but actually this could be any type of personal use. It does not require the Internet. There are games often resident on a computer just waiting for a taker. It just so happens that in many cases where online access is available, the Internet is the door to company productivity loss. In the working world, it is known as goldbricking, cyberslacking, cyberloafing, to name a few. So how does cyberloafing financially affect the company?

Say an employee takes .5 hours a day to surf, shop, or whatever else during work hours. Looking at this cost systematically, we begin with adding up the per day use of .5 hours for an entire week. At the end of the week, we have 2.5 hours of productive time depleted. If we multiply the weekly hours by a loose 45 working weeks for the year, we have a yearly total of 112.5 production hours lost. With an employee making $15.00 per hour, the production loss cost to the company for one employee is $1687.50 every 12 months. Then, multiply that figure by the amount of employees who have Internet access. If we raise the dollar amount and increase surfing time, a company can begin to appreciate the lost production time and what that means to them in dollars. The example just proposed is only part of the equation as there can be another costs associated with cyberslacking. It is the silent, or not so silent, cost of security issues.

Employee computer use also needs to be monitored because of security issues. There is generally a lack of understanding with just how helpless a computer is when up against the amount of bugs and slime resident on the Internet. This is inevitably more so when it has been neglected of the latest patches and has no virus protection. Even at best, computer security specialists have been known to say that the only safe computer is the one six feet underground. For this reason, astute companies spend hundreds to thousands of dollars a year to avoid potential dire security incidents associated with employee use alone. This is not accounting for outside attacks without being invited from the inside, let alone being actually targeted by a professional hacker. By far, a more typical loss associated with personal use is the result of malicious code (How to Protect) known as viruses, brought in by an unsuspecting employee. These viruses invade his or her computer causing software malfunction and vulnerabilities with the predictable result of the computer ultimately being put out of service to be cleaned. The cost to the company is time and money. What makes the individual computer incident worse is when the malware spreads to the company network.

One of the most petrifying thoughts of...
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