With high unemployment rates and the potential of them rising even more, you would think that employees are doing whatever they can to be productive and keep their jobs. Instead, according to a study by Nielson Online in October 2008, visits to porn sites at work is up 23 percent from the previous year. This means that almost one quarter of employees are visiting porn sites during the workday. “Hits to porn sites are highest during office hours than at any other time of day,” according to M.J. McMahon, publisher of AVN Online magazine, which tracks the adult video industry.
Some analysts believe that it has to do with the declining economy and people looking for an escape, while others speculate that it has to do with a younger generation in the workforce that has grown up accepting porn as a part of life.
Regardless, porn surfing at work poses a major legal liability risk for businesses. This type of activity puts the employer at serious risk of being sued by other workers who are offended or upset by being exposed to pornographic images. Such suits usually take the form of ‘sexual harassment’ or ‘hostile workplace’ litigation and can be very costly in terms of damage to reputation as well as legal costs. In addition to the legal costs, businesses also have to be concerned about costs due to loss of productivity.
In fact, the Senate Finance Committee is investigating the misuse of NSF computers by government officials to view online pornographic material. In one instance, the report cites an NSF “senior official” who allegedly spent 20 percent of his work hours “viewing sexually explicit” Web sites. This amounts to a potential loss of $58,000 in employee compensation.
According to Salary.com, the average employee wastes 2.09 hours a day on the Internet. An average administrative employee costs a company $37.84 per hour according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. For a company with 1,000 employees, this amounts to over $18 million in productivity losses in a year.
A simple and cost-effective way employers can help ensure that employees use the Internet for productive purposes and not visit sites that pose a legal liability threat to the company is to filter and/or monitor Web access. Wavecrest Computing offers Internet filtering and monitoring products CyBlock and Cyfin, to fit any organization’s needs. The average cost for a Wavecrest product with a 1000-employee license is $3,500 per year. This is less than two tenths of one percent of the cost of lost productivity, making an Internet filtering or monitoring solution well worth the investment.