For employers concerned about employee efficiency, content filters often seem like a fantastic idea. The idea behind content filters is that, by filtering the websites and content an employee is permitted to view on a work computer, the employee will be more productive and use their time more efficiently. While this may sound true, it’s important to consider the drawbacks of content filtering as well because, while filtering may change the way an employee uses the web, it can also create a whole host of unintended consequences that actually damage workplace productivity.
The Effects of Content Filtering
According to Simplewall, 40% of all web use in the workplace isn’t business related, and a whopping 64% of employees report using their employer’s Internet for personal purposes. Because of this, many employers turn to content filtering to control their employees’ web access.
In some ways, monitoring employee Internet activity offers benefits. For example, filtering employee web content offers significant Malware control for companies and lessens the chance that Malware will be able to infiltrate a computer and destroy its files. Additionally, content filtering produces increased efficiency through the blocking of gaming or social media apps. Finally, companies who use content filtering may enjoy reduced liability for things like inappropriately downloaded copyrighted material.
On the other hand, however, there are many negative effects of employee content monitoring. While businesses that use it may experience a small spike in efficiency, it’s also liable to cause the following drawbacks:
- Resentment in the workforce. Typically, companies that use content filtering do it for all employees, not just those who have violated Internet policy. This causes respectful employees to become irritated and resentful at the lack of trust and can be a major contributing factor to dissatisfaction in the workplace.
- Difficulty accessing valid sites. While content banning filters may seem like they should work flawlessly, they often don’t. Implementing content filtering on work computers can sometimes makes it difficult for employees to access websites that are not a threat for the workplace. In this case, network administrators have to waste valuable time and effort trying to figure out why the content filtering system is disallowing the site and how they can fix it. This costs a company productivity and profits over time.
- Mistakes. Many Internet filtering programs work by taking a screenshot of an employee’s Internet activity. While this is functional in theory, it doesn’t ultimately take into account the fact that an employee may be improperly punished if a URL is mistyped or a link takes an employee to a banned site.
- Inefficiency. While content filtering software can stop an employee from visiting a website on a work computer, there’s nothing to stop that same employee from accessing a website via a personal device like a phone. Because of this, content filtering often isn’t the most effective way to discourage improper Internet use in the workplace.
While content filtering software has its benefits, it also has a set of significant drawbacks and employers interested in using it must be careful to ensure that it is the right fit for their company and employee base. In addition to sparking resentment in employees, content filtering can also have unintended repercussions on valid access and may lead to employees being punished wrongly or simply finding other ways to access the sites your computers have now blocked.
Because of this, companies should consider other alternatives to content filtering and must work together with their employees to create integrated, comprehensive policies that allow for employee happiness and comfort just as much as they do workplace security and productivity.
To learn more about ensuring web security in the workplace, contact Allied Telecom today!