Why a Policy is Needed
Answers to these questions are, obviously, well beyond the scope of this article, but the questions do serve to highlight some of the issues that may concern employees about having their online activities monitored at work, and give some insight into the kind of interests for which employees might believe that they are entitled to legal protection of their privacy.
In May of 2001 one group of employees, after discovering that their e-mail and Internet use was being monitored, even ordered staff to disable the monitoring software. (Bassett, 2002, para. 8) I think they were right, because the employer did not let them know about the monitoring software, and there wasn’t any Internet use policy in the company.
Also, the reputation of the company may suffer from thoughtless employees’ activities. Hines and Cramer consider reputation as a key component of any organization’s intellectual asset portfolio. Damage to reputation can mean huge differences in customer allegiance, shareholder confidence, sales, and the bottom line. (Hines and Cramer, 2003, p.1)
Really, employees can use the Internet to disparage their existing or former employers. Internet chat rooms, bulletin boards, live journals, and other Web sites can be used for this. They provide the opportunity to communicate anonymously, at no cost and to an unlimited audience.
Hines and Cramer note that technical and financial risk management tools are relatively ineffective for protecting reputation, and corporate defamation is frequently caused by existing or former employees, and that’s why organizations should focus more on protecting valuable reputation assets through the normative control – specifically, improved employment practices and education of employees. (Hines and Cramer, 2003, p.2).