Love it or hate it, creating an email and internet usage policy for employees in a workplace is crucial to the success of a business. As an employer, you should be concerned about what your employees do online, what and how your image as a company is being portrayed. It goes beyond the message in an email or surfing the net but it plays a great role in your brand proposition.

What’s more, what employees do can land you in a lawsuit you did not bargain for, so, to avoid being caught in a net, you should take the pain to create an understandable policy. It should be one with barriers but not exactly restrictive in every sense of it. Although putting policies together can be complex, its efficiency will be worth it. Yes, it may cost you some bucks because you will require the help of an attorney (due to employment laws and regulations) but more than that, it gives you peace of mind when your employees stay within the safe boundary for your organization when online.

Best Practices to Adopt When Creating Employees Email Policy

Going forward, therefore,  here are some guidelines for best practices to adopt when creating the policy and a sample for you to adapt.

Email Policy Guidelines

The Do’s of Creating Employees Email Policy

  1. Ensure your employees understand why they have internet access, that is, it should help in speeding up their duties and not serve as a distraction.
  2. Train your employees on email communication and internet research so that they can be well-equipped.
  3. Further train your employees on the danger of sharing financial information of the company, except on certified sites.
  4. Protect confidential email content by installing encryption software or managing employees’ inbox and outbox from source.
  5. Oust the use of the internet for personal purposes and sending non-office related communication via email.
  6. Enlist the expertise of an IT consultant to create procedures for retaining important documents whilst destroying old and unwanted ones (if applicable).
  7. Employ an IT consultant or designate an IT savvy department to manage any issue that may arise with email and internet usage.
  8. Get legal help where you find yourself at a crossroad.

The Don’ts Creating Employees Email Policy

  1. Don’t take up the work of a spy. Rather, give your employees their respective passwords.
  2. Don’t rely on email communication to the extent that written notes are outdated. The internet isn’t up 100% of the time so this should be taken into consideration.
  3. Put proper virus-monitoring software in place so that none of your data will be lost in the event that an employee violates the policy and invites virus to feast on your data. You can also backup every data belonging to your company to different places.
  4. Restrict outrightly, access to pornography and any other offensive website(s).

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Sample: Employees Email Policy

Now, here is a sample

Preamble

The company understands that the provision of email and internet access on each employee’s computer is solely for the carrying out our corporate duties but, where it so requires, only the designated IT staff is allowed to download additional resources and software on any computer in the organization.

Software Access

Additional software downloads are not acceptable under any circumstance. However, should an employee require a download, same must be authorized by a manager and the download monitored by a staff from the IT Department. Any request considered a risk shall be rejected. The goal of this is to ensure that the organization’s network and expenses are minimized.

Internet Usage

Every employee shall use the internet solely for the company’s purpose. Because internet use creates loopholes for unauthorized access, every employee must stay out of restricted websites which are presumably any website not usable for research purposes or such websites used for personal reasons.

Furthermore, no device owned by the company and/or the employee should be used to view or open pornography related sites. This includes every unethical, immoral and personal site that may be accessed on the company’s network through any device whatsoever. Any employee caught violating this policy will face disciplinary procedures as outlined in the employees’ code of conduct, and this may include termination of employment.

Company’s Equipment

Every device provided for employees’ use MUST only be solely used for the company’s assignment. Such devises include but not limited to Desktops, Laptops, Desk Telephones, Smartphones, Basic phones, Ipads, Iphones, smartwatches, and tablets.

When an employee indicates his or her desire to leave the company, all company’s equipment must be returned to the IT department.

An employee is allowed to access his or her personal devise, not connected to the company’s network for any purpose when on break, during lunch hours or after the close of work.

Social Media

As much as the company embraces the rise in technology and the use of social media, no employee must use the company’s device and/or network for social engagements during office hours. This is excluding break and lunch period when the employee is allowed to use his or her devise and connection for personal purposes.

In addition, every employee is prohibited from sharing confidential information about the company on the company’s device or a personal device. Any employee caught flouting this policy will face disciplinary actions.

Please note that none of an employee’s human right, precisely right to freedom of speech, has been infringed due to this provisions.

Email Usage

Every employee must use the company’s email provided to him or her for company communication. At no point must an employee open his or her personal email on the company’s network, except when the need is imminent. Any confidential information about the company must be authorized before same is sent out. No personal issue(s) must be sent via company’s email but can be sent using the employee’s personal email on the employee’s personal device. Any employee found sending prohibited images, links and stories via email will be disciplined thoroughly.

Summary and Conclusion 

Ensure to use clear, concise and non-technical language in your policy composition to avoid being misunderstood and sounding overly ambiguous. Keep it short and straightforward so that each employee can read through every word to the end. You must remember to always update your policy with new technology and legal trends.

Finally, every employee must sign the policy with a statement indicating that the policy has been read and understood. Then, you must keep in mind that every well-behaved employee will abide strictly by the policy and you can also keep yourself busy with more important aspects of the company rather than responding to lawsuits that arose out of a misuse of the company’s email and internet connection service.

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