Email Monitoring Thesis

Pages: 13 (5744 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business

E-Mail Monitoring Affects Employee Stress, Privacy, And Morale

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The impact of electronic mail monitoring on the productivity of workers globally, in addition to its impact on their relative levels of stress, sense of and ability to have personal privacy, all interrelate to their morale and sense of ownership workers have regarding their jobs. The intent of this analysis is to evaluate through empirical research how e-mail monitoring is perceived by employees, how it affects their approach to getting work done, and how their perceptions of privacy, equitable treatment, while also testing their level of awareness of specific e-mail monitoring policies in their companies. A random sample of 30 respondents were chosen and given a questionnaire with 13 questions on it, capturing gender and attitudes with regard to time spent in e-mail each day, knowledge of any employee being discharged or fired due to unauthorized use of e-mail, perceptions of their right to privacy and attitudes pertaining to the organizations' right to monitor e-mail as well. E-0mail monitoring is perceived by many employees as negative, intrusive and illustrating how far the lack of trust between employers and employees have progressed (Adams, Scheuing, Feeley, 2000). As a result, excessive e-mail monitoring is seen as intrusive, illegal and lacking in the necessary level of trust that is critical for any organization to get the highest level of performance for their employees (Baker, 2006). The paradox of e-mail monitoring however is the fact that companies do have the legal obligation to monitor e-mail to ensure that legal liabilities are minimized by quickly stopping unauthorized use of e-mail systems being used for distributing inappropriate content (Grupe, Kuechler, Sweeney, 2002). As much as many employees dislike the thought of their e-mails being monitored, it is essential for many companies to engage in this practice as it can drastically reduce their legal liability (Wakefield, 2004). Policies are becoming commonplace as a result (Welebir & Kleiner. 2005)

Executive Summary

Problem Statement and Significance of Study

Literature Review

Method

Thesis on Email Monitoring Assignment

Analysis

Discussion

References

Appendix a Study Questionnaire

Appendix B Microsoft Excel Survey Data with selected analyses from Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) V.17

Problem Statement and Significance of Study

The paradox of e-mail and Internet monitoring within corporations is on the one hand anchored by the many legal precedents of corporations being held liable for their employee's illegal activity (Wakefield, 2004) yet too much constraints on this and other forms of communication directly impact their performance and morale (Adams, Scheuing, Feeley, 2000). Intermediating these two extremes is the role of education to provide the necessary insights into why specific safeguards are critical for ensuring the corporation does not inadvertently expose itself to legal risks by being too loose with polices (Casarez, 1992) yet concentrating enough on privacy and ethicacy issues of employees so as not to hinder their productivity and ownership of their jobs (Friedman, Reed, 2007). Balancing the rights of any corporation to monitor e-mail traffic needs to be balanced against the rights of individuals to privacy. In previous empirical research it has been shown to more of an educational issue, as many, if not the majority of employees in many studies, have not known the policies and their resulting ramifications on their careers. The differences between levels of management has also shown that there are significant differences in how much is known about e-mail proper use policies and the use of e-mail for personal purposes specifically (Casarez, 1992). As a large percentage (AMA, 2005) of companies in the U.S. are monitoring e-mail use to minimize their legal liability, the lack of training on policies and use by employees is causing significant disruption to work processes and the ability to work with external trading partners, suppliers and customers. Empirical studies of the implications of stringent e-mail policies and the correlational effect on productivity specifically dealing with external constituencies is significant (Grupe, Kuechler, Sweeney. (2002).

Literature Review

There continues to be significant legal and legislative activity on the issue of employee rights when it comes to monitoring their Internet and e-mail activity while at work. This encompasses their use of a company PCs, use of both company-based e-mail accounts and public domain ones including Yahoo, MSN, and others, and the use of the Internet for both work-related and non-work related web surfing. The creation of e-policies by organizations to govern the use of these different forms of electronic communication and research is typically referred to as creating an Acceptable Use Policy. These are policies that are specifically written by companies to protect themselves legally from unauthorized use of their computers, and also to set guidelines for the use of computers, e-mail and the Internet by employees. The steps required for setting up Acceptable Use Guidelines for an organization are next discussed.

Creating Acceptable Use Guidelines

The primary impetus for companies implementing policies to govern the use of computers, e-mail and the Internet begins with their liability to protect both company assets and the employees from offensive and inappropriate materials including spam, pornographic or racially sensitive materials sent through the company e-mail system, or employees visiting pornographic sites. Despite the wide perception that Acceptable Use Policies are meant to control the use of the Internet and its many forms of communication by a company's management, many researchers in this area contend that these policies are actually meant as a guideline, according to Kallman & Grillo (1996). Acceptable Use Policies must be structured enough to provide guidance and direction to employees on what is acceptable use of e-mail and the Internet without stifling them and their ability to do their jobs. This is a balancing act many organizations have a trial-and-error history of trying to define. What further complicates the development of an Acceptable Use Policy is that many companies find they don't have a clear sense of their own values to begin with. What typically happens in these situations is that the company will first introduce their Values Statement in the context of a Vision and Mission Statement announcement, and then follow that with the distribution of an Acceptable Use Policy. Table 1 shows the most common forms of abuse that companies experience in the context of their networking systems including their Internet connections. The term Non-ISPs refers to the fact that these abuses are within a company; an ISP (Internet Service Provider) would have many more external threats including hacking and theft of access time. This table is from the work of Siau, Nah & Teng (2002).

Table 1: Most Common Abuses Acceptable Use Policies Target

In creating an Acceptable Use Policy the following steps need to be considered in the creation of and continual maintenance of a plan:

Researchers and experts agree that the best first step is to clearly state the company's values, including the Mission Statement. For many companies this includes being the leader in terms of time-to-market with new products, the highest performing company in its industry, and other high objectives. These values are meant as the foundation for setting an Acceptable Use Policy.

Second, companies are defining their own codes of Ethical Computer Use, and publishing these to a select set of senior managers who give their feedback on the codes and then approve them for distribution to the entire company.

Stress in the launching of the Acceptable Use Policy that for the company to remain free from unneeded liability, competitive threats to business, and the best use of employee time, the Acceptable Use Policy is going to go into effect at a specific future date. This is a considerate move to employees as it doesn't impose immediate restrictions on them, and further sets a new standard for Internet use. Again the point of the policy is not to restrict the use of the Internet, e-mail, instant messaging or blogs, but to align their use with the broader strategic needs of the company. In this policy statement mention that any inappropriate content including pornography, racially-motivated humor or any other offensive content in any form will not be tolerated and will be grounds for disciplinary action leading to dismissal. Many companies also requiring new employees to sign an agreement when hired that the company has full rights to the employee's hard drive and other media that may contain personal or company information. In many cases companies include this statement in their Acceptable Use Policy as well according to Welebir & Kleiner (2005).

Begin implementing monitoring and filtering software and network routers capable of tracking Internet use both in e-mail, website visits, instant messaging and blogs. Inform the company's users that these activities are now being monitored and any activity that consistently violates the policies will result in disciplinary action.

Establish a council of users from each department to discuss how the Acceptable Use Policy is working out, and what can be provided in terms of more flexibility, or greater control. Often companies find that the use of routers that can filter websites often filter out the ones they need for doing their jobs.

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