Half of firms rebuke staff for excessive use of e-mail

Staff abuse of e-mail at work poses a far bigger problem to employers than internet misuse, according to an annual survey by the...

Staff abuse of e-mail at work poses a far bigger problem to employers than internet misuse, according to an annual survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Almost half of the 356 UK employers surveyed had disciplined staff for excessive use of e-mail, and a quarter had disciplined employees for inappropriate e-mail attachments during the past two years, the survey found.

Figures for internet misuse were much lower than that found in the last survey - only 15% of organisations reported cases of downloading pornography and 13% cited instances of employees spending an excessive amount of time surfing the internet.

Verbal or written warnings were the most popular disciplinary measure for those organisations with problems. The survey also indicated that employers were taking a more relaxed approach to disciplining staff.

"The CIPD has long promoted the need for firms to put in place e-mail and internet policies and is encouraged by the year-on-year increase in the number of organisations that have one," said Duncan Brown, assistant director general at the institute.

"This, together with the increased use of sophisticated technology has helped organisations tackle the problem," he said. "It might explain why 33% of organisations reported no disciplinary problems whatsoever."

The survey also found that organisations are set to invest in software for administrative functions, monitoring staff absence and helping to improve productivity levels. Two-fifths of organisations that already have HR systems are considering changing their system in the next two years, with budgets set to increase by almost 50% on average.

However, in spite of the strong demand for new technologies, project overruns continue to blight the profession, with up to 33% of organisations reporting that their systems are not delivered on time.

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