Email and Texting Abuse on the Job

Email and text messaging have become a huge distraction in many workplaces. Yet most employers have trouble determining how to control this interruption from productivity.

Forty-one percent of companies involved in a recent Proof Point Poll pay someone to monitor employee email. Forester Research found 40 percent of companies monitoring email by employing a full-time employee. Even with this high percentage of monitoring, only 14 percent of the employers had the nerve to actually discipline a message abuser.

The privacy right issue is one of the considerations an employer faces. Although it is clear than mail delivered by the postal service belongs to the employer, even if addressed as personal or confidential, there is less clarity when it comes to email or texting.

The City of Detroit faced this problem when embarrassing text messages were made public during an investigation of wrong-doing by the Mayor. The mayor’s legal team was making a seemingly convincing argument before the court until it was revealed the mayor had issued a damaging memo. It stated that all text messages sent or received on city-owned phones or while employees were on the time clock belonged to the city as a matter of public record. The mayor’s messages were made public and solidified his conviction for not revealing an affair could have impacted a multi-million payment made to fired police officers.

The key to eliminating email is not disciplinary. Companies have found two methods that are very effective in controlling email abuse.

1. Ensure employees are connected. Well-engaged employees are more likely to tell their messaging friends to wait until they are off work. They want to get the job done because they have a clear vision of their future at a successful company.

2. They use pre-employment assessments. The effective use of modern, online pre-employment assessments can identify probable email abusers. Integrity and work ethic will provide clear indicators of an applicant’s propensity to abuse company policy.