Employees Love Porn

Employees Love Porn
Gretchen Gallen
OLD SAYBROOK, Conn. -- All those serious, involved employee faces peering into office computer monitors might not always be assessing last month's sales stats or the latest error log from the IT department.

According to a poll released by HRnext.com, visiting porn websites is still a favorite activity for employees. Infact, the amount of porn that gets viewed during office hours has skyrocketed and is posing serious liability and disciplinary problems for many employers.

The poll was drawn from 474 people online and was conducted by HRnext, a division of Business and Legal Reports (BLR), which features daily white papers for the human resources industry.

"The idea is to spell out the terms behind using computers," Kevin Flood, editor for BLR, told XBiz. "It's your property and you can tell your employees how it is to be used. If one employee has a screen saver that is risqué and offends another employee, then that employer could be held liable for sexual harassment."

The poll indicates that two out of three human resource representatives have found pornography on employee computers. Nearly 43 percent of those HR reps said they found the same material more than once, while only 34 percent said they had never seen porn on employee computers.

According to HRnext, the poll points to the dilemma facing many companies and corporations of how to balance employee privacy and recreational web browsing with the electronic monitoring of computer content.

Liability issues regarding employee porn access in the workplace loom large, as does the prospect of losing valuable work time, which some statistics estimate could be in the billions of dollars on a national basis.

One of the things that HRnext recommends is for employers to articulate a clear policy on electronic monitoring and computer use by posting policies in an employee handbook and in public areas.

MSNBC and eMarketer.com recently reported that employees earning between $75,000 to $100,000 annually are twice as likely to download pornography at work than those earning less than $35,000. Whereas one in five men and one in eight women admitted using their work computers as their primary lifeline to access sexual explicit material online.

Additionally, more than half of all requests on search engines are adult-oriented, says Wordtracker.com. The top three word searches on the Internet are sex, mp3, and hotmail.

According to software filter company Websense, 63 percent of company employers were aware that their employees were surfing the web during business hours for recreational purposes. Thirty-four percent said they had disciplined workers, and one third of them had actually fired employees for recreational browsing. All those employers polled by Websense agreed that the majority of unauthorized web surfing was porn-related.

Websense also determined that more than 70 percent of all Internet porn traffic occurs during the 9-to-5 workday.

When asked what the impetus behind the HRnext poll was, Flood told XBiz that accessing porn on company websites seemed to be a growing concern for the human resources community.

Flood attributes the use of pornography among employees to boredom.

"It seems to be the last thing you would want to do in the workplace," he told XBiz.