Most of us are aware that rules are there for a reason – but it does seem we’re rather selective in how we apply them. For people who are relatively confident about using a computer, the temptation to occasionally flout company policy can be rather appealing, particularly if there’s an eBay bid to check up on or you fancy doing some snooping of your ex’s Facebook profile. In a recent piece of research, provider of employee monitoring and data protection software Safetica revealed that as many as a quarter of employees may engage in undesirable activities, even though they were fully aware that it was against company policy.
The survey of 663 British employees identified that, of the 46% – 57% that used a computer at work, a third of employees spent time using social media – such as Facebook and Twitter – despite knowing the activity was unrelated to their work, and an additional third used a company printer to print personal files. Nearly a quarter used their work computer to browse for another job, whilst 12% admit they have taken company files home with them. In contrast, nearly a quarter of people checked social networks and a little over a fifth printed personal documents using a company printer – even though it was strictly forbidden by company policy.
Interestingly, despite the fact they are often stereotypically perceived as being less risk-averse, when the data is examined along gender lines it is revealed that disregarding these sorts of policies is actually less common amongst male employees. Scarcely more than 20% of male employees broke policies regarding printing out personal material compared to 28% of female employees and just 14% of men disregarded policy about looking for new employment at work rather than the 19% of their female counterparts. The only area where men displayed more disregard for policy was in regard to social networking, with 23% of men willing to flaunt policy to compared to 21% of women.
Taking all of this into account, it’s hard to truly gauge how valuable these policies are, especially when they only show a relatively minor improvement in the percentage of employees engaging in undesired behaviour.
“It only reduces the frequency of the unwanted activities, it does not completely prevent them,” comments Urban Schrott, an IT security and cybercrime analyst for the firm. “For protection against the unauthorised copying, emailing, editing, or opening of company files, as well as for monitoring, reporting and preventing employees from partaking in unauthorised activities, a comprehensive software solution should be considered.”