Employers Monitor Employee Internet & E-Mail Use
by Susan P. Joyce
Fifty-one percent of employers have disciplined or terminated an employee for violating the employer's Internet or e-mail policy. According to a recent survey by the American Management Association, over 60% of employers monitor their employees' Internet and e-mail usage (sites visited, time spent, message content).
In contrast, only 40% of employers monitor telephone usage (time spent, numbers called), and fewer than 10% monitor voice mail messages. Employers say that they are concerned, primarily, with legal liability and security. Employee productivity and job performance are also important concerns. So, they aren't looking for employees doing online job searching, but clearly there is a better than 50 - 50 chance that they'll find out you are doing it, if you do it at work using the company Internet access and computers.
In the U.S., the Federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act gives employers the legal right to do this monitoring, but not every employer who monitors employee Internet usage tells the employee that they are doing it (although they should tell you!).
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
In general, it's safest to conduct your online job search using your own computer, e-mail address (NOT firstname.lastname@example.org), and Internet access. Since employees have been disciplined or terminated for violating an Internet or e-mail policy, be sure to become familiar with your employer's policy or policies.
About Susan Joyce: In 1995, Susan emerged from a corporate career to found NETability, Inc., a Web site development and consulting company, teach online job-hunting skills and grow Job-Hunt.org, the award-winning job search portal. For more than a decade, she has written and spoken extensively on the subject of online job search to groups ranging from the U.S. Department of Labor to local support groups. Susan is truly a pioneer in this field. She has been quoted in TIME Magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and countless other publications, both online and offline. Susan has an M.B.A. in Information Systems and a B.S. in Education.