HR Management & Compliance

Train Employees on Appropriate Use of the Internet at Work

The material in today’s Advisor is adapted from BLR’s 10-Minute HR Trainer session, “Appropriate Internet Use.”

A Reasonable and Balanced Approach

Surveys indicate that in most workplaces today, employers and employees agree that some nonbusiness use of the Internet is both inevitable and acceptable. When allowed, appropriate personal use of the Internet in the workplace should be clearly understood not as a right, but as a privilege—a privilege that can be revoked if abused.

Your policy might, for example, allow employees to access their personal e-mail during the day and use the Internet briefly for personal banking, checking sports scores, etc. Specifically limit the occasions when personal use of the Internet is permitted (for example, on scheduled work breaks only), and place a limit on the amount of time employees can spend this way (for example, a maximum of 15 minutes per workday).

This kind of approach is probably similar to the approach you take with other nonbusiness activities employees engage in, such as personal telephone calls, reading newspapers, etc. A certain amount of this type of activity is expected and can generally be tolerated as long as the privilege isn’t abused and employees’ work isn’t affected by excessive time wasting.

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Most employers prefer to focus on the serious issues involved in employee Internet use (e.g., security, downloading of offensive material, gambling) and allow a certain amount of inoffensive use as long as it doesn’t get out of hand.

Applicable Regulations: Electronic Communications Privacy Act

Training Tips

  • Review your organization’s Internet and e-mail use policies.
  • Explain what, if any, nonbusiness use of the Internet is acceptable for your employees.
  • Ask participants to discuss any problems they have had with employee use of the Internet.

Knowledge Review

Distribute copies of the handout and discuss the Internet policy pointers. Then have participants complete the Appropriate Internet Use Quiz. It provides a useful review of the subject.

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As its name implies, this product trains managers and supervisors in critical HR skills in as little as 10 minutes for each topic. 10-Minute HR Trainer offers these features:

Trains in 50 key HR topics under all major employment laws, including manager and supervisor responsibilities and how to legally carry out managerial actions from hiring to termination. (See a complete list of topics below.)

Uses the same teaching sequence master teachers use. Every training unit includes an overview, bullet points on key lessons, a quiz, and a handout to reinforce the lesson later.

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