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Who's Watching You?

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Someone should do a survey of how many Philippine-based companies monitor employee e-mail and Web use.

Over 10 years ago, the Society for Human Resource Management, published a survey stating 36% of companies in America monitored employee e-mail. A staggering 70% of corporate respondents said such a practice was okay.

Today, most US companies that practice e-mail monitoring tell their employees; some 90%, according to the American Management Association. More professional Philippine companies do the same. But many, based on complaints I've heard, do not extend their workers this courtesy.

Some years back, a coworker warned me when I joined a company (not Fairnews) that the boss had access to everyone's e-mail. It bothered me very little because, I figured, I didn't have any business saying something behind someone's back that I was not completely willing to say to their face.

But I recall I was a trifle annoyed when the boss would contribute her two cents in threads she wasn't even included in. I reckoned it was company policy so I just shrugged it off. Or maybe I was just too busy to care.

At Fairnews, we only open the inboxes of employees after they resign: to check if a contact is already bawling out the company for not replying, to reset the password, and to forward all future correspondence to the 'info' inbox. Often, in the case of non-performing employees, we don't even bother to open the inbox and simply reset the password and forward to 'info.'

If you have to go behind an employee's back just to watch their correspondence and Web use, maybe you're better off firing them. Of course, some employees abuse Web privileges. I figure, deal with it if it gets in the way of performance. If you feel you're being cheated of work hours, maybe the person simply isn't busy enough. The solution is simple and highly cost-efficient: Give him more work.

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