Requirements of an effective employee Web-use management program

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

Because managing employee Web use deals with humans and their actions, it is a continuous process for all sizes and types of businesses, where the goal is to ensure employees use Web access safely for productive, work-related purposes. To attain a high level of success, I believe that this process requires a Web-use management program be put in place that involves many key players in the organization, communication of the company’s Web-use policy, implementation of a reliable tool to monitor and control Web use, and other important activities. In this article, I will discuss the requirements of an effective employee Web-use management program and the activities involved that will bring about safe and productive Internet use by the workforce.

The key ingredient in an effective program is collaboration and communication among the various groups in the company, i.e., senior management, Legal department, IT personnel, HR personnel, department managers and supervisors, and employees. Communication would include IT keeping company stakeholders informed about current hacker threats, as well as HR apprising senior management of pertinent employee Web-use behavior. Collaboration would occur among HR, IT, and department managers in training the workforce. Collaboration would also take place between IT and department heads to select the appropriate Web monitoring and filtering tool.

If you don’t have one already, another necessity of a Web-use management program is to develop a sound Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) consistent with corporate culture. The AUP should describe acceptable and unacceptable Web-use behavior, i.e., company rules for what constitutes desirable, acceptable, unacceptable, and abusive use of the Internet and other network resources. The policy should also clearly state how compliance will be monitored and what the consequences will be to employees abusing the use of network resources. Does your company have an AUP in place that spells out the rules to your employees?

To ensure adherence to the Web-use policy, it should be clearly communicated to the entire workforce, including management, informing them of what is and what is not acceptable in easily understood language. You may also want to have employees acknowledge that they read and understood the policy through a signed acknowledgement. HR and management personnel should hold meetings with workgroups to answer questions and provide any additional information. This fosters open communication in the workplace and allows employees to be more engaged in proper Internet usage.

In addition to communicating the policy to all concerned, another requirement of an effective Web-use management program is training employees on how to use Web access productively and safely. Whether training is conducted or coordinated by HR or in collaboration with managers and other department personnel, training sessions should cover Internet usage and related subjects. Specifically, employees need to be made aware of what sites they are visiting and what they are clicking on the Web. The purpose of training should be to encourage proper, productive, and safe use of network resources while reinforcing the information in the AUP.

An important requirement of a Web-use management program is to use a reliable software tool that is designed specifically to monitor compliance with Web-use policies and proactively control Web access. The tool should also include a smart reporting engine that distinguishes between user clicks (visits) and unsolicited traffic (hits) and easily presents accurate and up-to-date Web-use data, identifying desirable Web usage as well as unacceptable use and trends. Does your tool include a Smart Engine that analyzes Web traffic to better interpret human behavior? Does it generate easy-to-read, manager-ready reports? Does it give details on employee Web use with drill-down reporting capability? These are key features of a Web monitoring and filtering tool that will benefit IT, HR, and department managers.

Another activity that is necessary is following up with corrective actions when inappropriate Web access is detected. With a policy in place, personnel oriented, the workforce trained, and your Web monitoring and filtering solution actively monitoring and controlling Web use, there are still more activities to do. The tool will inevitably reveal patterns of inappropriate use or disclose signs of outright abuse. These incidents will require attention by HR and management personnel. After identifying the problems, management can take appropriate follow-up actions, such as counseling employees, training or retraining workers, changing work processes, and revising or clarifying the AUP. Managers may also need to institute follow-up audits on individual users and, in worst case, take disciplinary action including termination.

The final element of an effective employee Web-use management program that I will cover involves the establishment of a continuous improvement process by the collaboration team, i.e., HR, IT, department managers, etc. In this process, there would be frequent reviews of employee Web use, new Web services introduced into the network, and new security threats, modifications of work processes, and appropriate revisions of the AUP. All company stakeholders would be involved. What other activities have been effective in your company in managing employee Web use?

Unauthorized Web use can degrade workforce productivity, impact network performance, threaten network security, and create legal liabilities. Any of these outcomes can seriously impact your bottom line. An effective employee Web-use management program is essential to prevent this from happening. If the responsibilities of an effective program are carried out well, misuse and abuse of network resources will be minimized without damaging workforce engagement and morale. Getting accurate, actionable information to all collaborators is a must, and the tool that you are using should be able to provide this information. Next time I will discuss how to get this information with reliable metrics generated by a reporting tool.

Read more of my articles on Web-use management on LinkedIn and the Wavecrest blog: WaveNews.

HR is best suited to bring all company stakeholders together to ensure safe and productive Internet access

Monday, April 9th, 2018

employee Web-use management

My discussion here is about the suitability of HR being the hub for employee Web-use management where all company stakeholders are brought together to ensure safe and productive Internet use by all employees. For one, HR’s expertise typically includes personnel policy, codes of conduct, labor relations, workforce training, legal compliance issues, and workforce morale, all of which relate to the employee Web-use management issue. Because of their expertise in policy, training, and processes, HR is in the best position to coordinate the tasks of proposing and developing solutions to ensure that employee Web use is properly managed. After all, Web-use management is not just an IT issue. It is all about employee behavior, productivity, and morale. What Internet-use people issues are you seeing in your company? How are you solving them?

Communication is key in HR’s collaboration with managers, IT, and employees in the company. Starting at the top of the company, HR can educate senior managers on the importance of employee Web-use management, get their input, and keep them involved. By collaborating with IT whose access to highly accurate Web-use reporting and filtering tools can produce easy-to-consume Web activity data, HR can keep upper management apprised of pertinent employee Web behavior. This allows HR to contribute to the organization’s profitability and help keep the company out of severe legal difficulty–important business objectives for senior managers.

As the focal point in the employee Web-use management effort, HR can also schedule Web-use training programs for managers and employees, coordinating with Legal, IT, or department managers who observe a need or have the specific knowledge to train the workforce. Training could include instruction on the proper use of network resources, how to recognize a phishing e-mail message, how to detect malware symptoms, how to recognize and report other online threats, and other Web-use topics. Essentially, training would teach employees how to use Web access productively and safely. In this way, all areas of the company play an important role in proper network resources and policy training that would have a significant impact on corporate Web security. Are these types of training programs taking place in your company?

 

Another HR task would be to communicate the company’s Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) to the workforce by providing it in writing or electronically, requiring a signature to indicate acceptance of the policy. If you do not have a policy, HR, in collaboration with IT, Legal, and senior managers, would be well-suited to establish a sound AUP consistent with your company’s culture. Once the policy is created, HR can work with functional managers and IT to ensure optimum implementation of the policy. As Web activity is analyzed over time, HR can revise the policy as necessary. Managers and HR would work together to ensure employees are complying with the Web-use policy. Along with managers, HR would be involved in specific cases of policy noncompliance.

In communicating the policy to the workforce, HR would focus on promoting the interest of the company as a whole, while helping to maintain or improve employee morale. Managing employees’ use of Web-access resources is a sensitive and complex task, one that involves communicating with all groups–senior managers, managers, IT, and employees–and deals with policy, training, and continuous improvement processes. With HR as the hub, the continuous improvement process would involve the frequent review of employee Web use, new Web services introduced into the network, and new security threats, as well as modification of work processes and appropriate revision of the AUP.

All areas of the company can help manage employee Web use effectively. In the next articles, we will examine more closely IT’s role in employee Web-use management, the requirements of an effective Web-use management program, developing a sound AUP consistent with corporate culture, and other topics related to the human factor of data security.

Please let me know your thoughts on and reactions to this article and my questions by adding a comment. If HR is leading the Web-use management efforts in your business, in what other ways are they collaborating with others in the company?

Follow me on LinkedIn or read more articles on Web-use management on the Wavecrest blog: WaveNews.