The debate is raging in many offices regarding the use of the internet. We are in an age where it is almost impossible to function without access to the internet for a variety of purposes such as shipping, banking, ordering, and other functions vital to a business. So what happens when employees use the internet for purposes other than these required functions? Is it helpful or harmful to a business? It depends on how it is being used. In some situations it may be very helpful to employees. For instance if an employee forgets that they needed to pay the electric bill or they were going to be disconnected they may spend their entire day stressed and make many errors because their mind is not on their duties. If they are able to simply get on the internet, pay their bill, and continue with their daily duties without fear of a reprimand it helps with employee morale. Yet, it is not so beneficial if the employee is simply getting on Facebook to update their status about how miserable they are or what they did for the weekend.
How does an employer find the balance between helpful and harmful? First expectations about the internet should be provided to employees in their employee handbook or guidelines. In today’s world it is very easy to determine where employees are going on the internet. Employers can determine whether the employee is simply trying to manage something in their life or simply goofing off. The United States Department of Labor did a survey in 2003 on internet usage at work and found that approximately 77 million individuals used the internet at work. By this point in time it is most certain that number has increased. The internet is not going to go away; therefore, it is up to employers to determine how it can be beneficial to their employees and manage misuse.