Internet is a common and valuable resource for business organizations. This is a study of internet abuse in the work place. The paper reviews related literature on internet abuse.
The study uses questionnaires to investigate the prominent forms of internet abuse and determine if they are serious or minor internet abuse activities. The study relates the internet abuse behavior with regard to gender, education and status. The hypothesis of the study is that employees will engage in minor internet abuse irrespective of their gender, age, education and status.
The findings reveal that employees engage in minor internet abuse activities. Gender, education and status reflect on the type of internet abuse employees engage in. Employees’ productivity and employer’s liability are affected. Employees will avoid internet abuse that is directly incriminating. Internet abuse can be minimized by introduction of policies in the company. The policies will vary from organization to organization depending on the mission.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Internet technology has been incorporated in many organizations across the globe. Internet has increased efficiency, enhanced communication and made a lot of information accessible. The traditional working behavior has been affected. Employees have found themselves with new opportunities and some have misused the privileges.
Besides transforming the efficiency and productivity of work, negative results can be realized if employees engage in unacceptable internet activities. The term internet abuse has been used to refer to non- work internet activities in the workplace. According to Ozkalp (2010, p. 2) employees’ productivity as well as employers liability are affected by internet abuse.
There is need to investigate the internet activities employees are engaged in. This will be an effective way of finding adequate policies to prevent the unacceptable behavior. This paper will analyze internet abuse in the work place. It will study internet abuse in relation to gender, education, age and status.
The aim of this study is to identify most prominent forms of internet abuse and determine if they are serious or minor internet abuse.
Purpose of the study
The purpose of the study is to establish the extent of internet abuse during working hours. The study will investigate the relationship between internet abuse in the workplace and gender. Another reason is to investigate whether there is a relationship between the education level and internet abuse in the workplace.
The hypothesis for this study is that employees will engage in minor internet abuse irrespective of their gender, age, education and status.
Chapter 2: Review of literature
Organizations have adopted internet, which is an important resource. The availability of internet in the work place enables the employees to access a wide variety of libraries, participate in the social media as well as have access to pornographic sites. Access to internet minimizes the employer’s obligation and reduces productivity in the work place.
In an attempt to minimize employer’s liability, employers have observed employees internet use. Employees at different levels of the organization and with diverse education background can be involved in internet abuse, as Lehr and Lichtenberg (2000, p. 335) point out.
Defining internet abuse can be challenging. Every organization defines internet abuse according to acceptable behavior in the company. Definitions of internet abuse will vary. What is abuse in one company may not be in another company. The definition of internet abuse in an organization is in line with the mission of the organization.
Internet has become part of the organizational communication. The use of internet has increased efficiency and led to increased revenues. Internet has reduced the number of employees to be employed, enabled employees to access information fast and to perform effectively within a limited time.
Some researchers argue that internet is an important source of diversion for employees at work. It can lead to creativity, flexibility and facilitate a good learning environment. Some employees who use the internet for personal academic purposes may end up being resourceful to the organization. However, some employees have abused the privilege of internet in the workplace.
Employees who abuse internet range from senior employees to junior employees. Most of the employees have a private office or are in a cubicle. Thomas (2012, p. 2) says that employees in a private office will be tempted to watch pornography than employees in an open workplace.
In the working cubicles, employees will use the internet for personal social media, online banking, non- work emails and general browsing for news. A lot of time will be spent chatting with friends in Facebook or twitter. Others will use the internet for online shopping, to pay bills and make travel arrangements at the workplace. Others visit chat rooms, sports pages and game sites during office hours using the organizations internet. It is common for some employees to download movies, films and songs.
Employees who utilize internet for personal benefits are less productive than employees who do not abuse internet at the workplace. Internet abuse has been associated with a hostile working environment, discrimination and sexual harassment. Bondigas (2012, p. 1) adds that employees may pose a risk to the organizations network.
The safety of an organization may be compromised by downloading spyware or virus when downloading personal files. Downloading large files may cause other employees to slow down in their transactions. Furthermore, confidential and restricted data may end up being shared with the public.
According to Griffiths (2010, p. 463), there are various types of crime that occur from internet abuse in the work place. The crimes range from sexual abuse, relationship abuse, online information abuse and criminal internet activities. The challenges can be overcome if research on internet abuse is given attention.
Organizations block sites with pornography and hate content. Depending on the mission of the organizations, more sites can be blocked. The organization will block sites that are considered inappropriate. Internet reports are analyzed and actions are taken depending on the report. Some organizations restrict internet to organizations websites. Policies introduced will include the email policy and internet use policy.
Mirchandani and Motwani (2003, p. 1) discuss four measures that have been used by companies to overcome internet abuse issue in the workplace. The measures include deterrence, prevention, detection and remedies.
Deterrence largely depends on the employee’s willingness to avoid internet abuse. Prevention includes passwords and locking computer rooms. Detection involves the use of internet reports, scanning for virus reports, system audits and identification of documents after a security breech. Remedies contain internal actions and legal actions.
Internal actions will give a warning letter, reprimanding the employee or even terminating the employee’s contract. Legal actions will result in civil or criminal cases. An organization begins by introducing deterrence and moves on prevention, detection and remedies respectively, depending on the need to introduce internet control.
According to Chen et al (2008, p. 87), personality factors contribute to employees internet usage. Employee’s self-esteem affects their internet behavior in the workplace. Other personality factors include control, gratification and containment.
If an employee has been previously addicted to the internet, they are likely to abuse internet privileges in the office. Employers should get acquainted with information on internet abuse in order to overcome internet abuse challenges. They can learn the employee’s personality and implement appropriate policies.
Internet monitoring has challenges. Organizations use software which is constantly advancing. The employer obtains the advanced software from the vendors. The software or hardware for blocking specific sites may end up blocking unintended sites. What is more is that it can be challenging to block all intended sites. Moreover, the organization will constantly need the assistance of the vendor; since the information system department is not always perfect.
Edward (1999, p. 290) mentions that monitoring the internet may not be welcome by the employees. Some may argue that it is unfair. Employee’s behavior can be extremely challenging to monitor. It is important that the internet reports be accurate. An employee can use another person’s computer when they step out without logging out.
To avoid misidentification, employees must sign out when leaving their computers. Employees should evade sharing their password with other employees. This will prevent cases of other employees using the other person’s computer. Identification problems may arise from the monitoring software. Inaccurate set up may cause wrong internet reports. The organization should be able to contact the software vendor to rule out any technical problems.
The internet report may be generated by faulty software; hence it is necessary to visit the computer history for more information. A credible employer will not accuse the employees before establishing the internet abuse and getting the support from the computer and internet history.
The information system department is actively involved in the monitoring and implementation of internet abuse policies within the workplace. Galletta and Polak (2003, p. 47) argue that employees behavior on the internet vary from organization to organization. The level of indulgence in internet abuse depends on a person’s exposure to internet use.
In line with Ozkalp (2010, p. 3), employees abuse internet because they have access and an opportunity to do so. Employees get cheaper online services during working hours hence they choose the affordable time. In some cases, employees use internet when they cannot be caught since they are anonymous. Moreover, the internet is convenient and employees find it easy to purchase at the comfort of their office. Employers may use the office internet if they spend a longer time in the office.
Chapter 3: Methodology
Using literature review, this paper will discuss internet abuse in the workplace. Related and significant information on the forms and impacts of internet abuse have been discussed. This research used the literature to develop a questionnaire and distributed the questionnaires to employees at random in two organizations. The questionnaire survey results will be used to test the proposed hypothesis. The first organization was the State University in the Faculty of Arts. The faculty is congested and has the largest admonition.
The second organization was a private organization in tourism industry. 212 respondents from the two organizations gave a feedback. 90 people were from the private organization and 122 were from the Public University. The 122 respondent represented a 70 percent return rate. 90 respondents were women and 122 respondents were men. Respondents below 30 years were 60 percent while the rest were above 30 years. 55 percent of the respondents were graduates.
The questionnaire addressed work and non- work emails, browsing for academic purpose, using internet for general work, visiting new websites, applying for new jobs, online games, online gambling, updating status on face book, chatting, online shopping, travel bookings, online banking, downloading music and downloading movies.
One of the limitations of this paper is that it will not focus on the extreme form of internet abuse, which has been referred to as internet abuse addiction. Moreover, it will limit the conclusion to the findings based on this study.
Chapter 4: Findings
In this study, majority of employees engaged in search for academic research was highest. Results indicated that non- work emails, new website visits, use of internet for general purposes, online banking were highest. This indicates that majority of the respondents were engaged in minor internet abuse during working hours.
Visiting social media sites was also high. Very few employees used internet to search for new jobs and in gambling. In the case of gender, the findings revealed that women were more involved in sending non work emails, online shopping, chatting and surfing for general sites than men. The results also showed that there was no significant difference in the case of age.
Education level showed a significant difference in the use of internet. Those with a postgraduate degree demonstrated an increased use of internet for academic purposes and non-work emails than undergraduates. Graduate respondents also used the internet for internet banking and online shopping than respondents with high school education and below. Undergraduates had a higher level of internet use for banking than high school graduates.
The number of post graduate respondents using internet for travel booking was higher than the undergraduates, while the number of undergraduates using internet for booking was higher than those with high school education. Those with high school education visited adult sites more than the undergraduates while the undergraduates visited the adult sites more than the postgraduates.
Those working in the private sector used non- work emails less often than the public University. Status was reflected with high use of internet for online banking, online shopping, non-work email and general internet browsing were common for the high ranking employees. Junior employees were higher in chatting activities than senior employees.
Minor internet abuse activities such as non-work emails, online banking, on line shopping were higher than serious internet abuse like gambling and visiting adult sites in the workplace. The findings correspond with the literature review that the employees use the internet in the workplace. Employees are careful to use less implicating internet sites at work, hence they would engage in internet abuse that is less incriminating.
Those who engage in the criminal activities using the internet at the workplace believe they cannot be identified by the senior management. The monitoring software would be most effective for identifying such employees. An organization can define the internet abuse in the organization and design policies that will adequately curb the issue.
Chapter 5: Summary.
It is evident that the use of internet is indispensable in global business. The internet has increasingly enhanced communication and aided in creating efficiency. Employee’s productivity has been affected by internet abuse in the workplace. Proper methods of controlling internet abuse will reduce internet abuse and employer liability in the workplace (Gupta 2004, p. 11).
The internet has been abused by employees in the workplace. Majority of the internet abuse activities are minor. They include checking non- work emails, online shopping, online banking, chatting and surfing for general purpose. Employees avoid serious internet abuse activities such as accessing adult content, gambling and downloading movies or songs.
Implementing an internet policy in the organization is a task that involves the top most leaders, directors, manager together with supervisors. The leaders should demonstrate willingness to adopt the policy. The implementation process could involve an internet workshop.
The internet workshop will provide information on internet abuse and encourage employees to share their experiences openly. Outlining the unacceptable sites and giving an explanation will make foster the mission of the organization. The organization should create awareness on the sites that are inappropriate. Moreover, an example of an internet report can be given.
During the workshop, the employees can be shown an example of an internet report. Information on when the internet report is used should be availed. Employees will be aware of their expectation after the workshop. When purchasing software for blocking selected sites, the organization should carefully select a vendor who can offer after sale service.
Research on the consequences of internet abuse is scarce. Limited empirical literature exists on internet abuse. In future, research on implications of internet abuse in the workplace on the employees should be undertaken.
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Chen, J. V., Chen, C. C., and Yang, H. H. (2008). An empirical evaluation of Key factors contributing to internet abuse in the workplace. Industrial Management & Data Systems, 108, 1, 87-106.
Edward, N.W. (1999). The Productivity Paradox: Evidence from Indirect Indicators of Service Sector Productivity Growth. Canadian Journal of Economics, 32, 2, 289-308.
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Lehr, B and Lichtenberg, F. (2000). Information Technology and Its Impact on Productivity: Firm-level Evidence from Government and Private Data Sources 1977-1993. Canadian Journal of Economics, 32, 2, 335-362
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Thomas, S. (2012). Internet Abuse in the workplace. Retrieved on February 14, 2012 from http://www.staffmonitoring.com/P32/abuse2.htm