Terrible HR Tuesday – Internet Policies

Feeling Bad

At times Human Resources is relegated to the compliance police – responsible for creating, maintaining and enforcing policies – it’s our favorite part of the job, really. This is typically in the best interests of both the company and the employee, but there are times when HR simply drops the ball.

For instance, if you are going to change your internet policy – including website usage, surfing/tracking capabilities, and time accountability, you actually have to TELL your employee population that these things are changing and update the related policy.

Terrible HR example: head of HR sends out an email to senior staff only, indicating that they are cracking down on personal internet usage while at work. IT will be working to install new firewalls which will not only disable certain sites which have never been blocked before, but they will also be tracking and accounting for each employee’s time spent on the web. The current HR policy regarding internet usage simply indicates, “Personal internet usage is not prohibited, but should only occur during employee breaks or off-time…. Employees should use discretion with the sites they visit while on company computers…”

No where in the current policy does it address:

  • Sites allowed
  • What discretion means (or how it is being interpreted widely)
  • How they will enforce this policy

With the new memo to senior leaders, the HR group was certain that they sufficiently rolled out their new policy – here’s where they failed:

  • They never UPDATED their previous internet usage policy with their new standards – so “legally” they are walking a shaky line should a termination occur from violating this new non-policy, policy
  • They did not notify their relevant employee population of the changes
  • They did not discuss with the employees to see what sites are being used for business reasons, that may now be blocked (think Marketing needing to utilize Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on)
  • In certain states, tracking internet usage/time may not be legal

*Photo by Ben Heine