… the HR Minion. Because even minions have opinions. And giggles.

Internet usage at work is not a right, so what are we doing wrong?

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot more Internet usage warnings floating around the office. Being in HR this bothers me for several reasons, but probably not the ones you are thinking of. It’s easy to blame Internet abuse at work on slacking employees. Too easy in fact. As The HR Capitalist has mentioned before, Internet abuse is a symptom, not the disease.

If employees are abusing the Internet at work, what are you doing (or not doing) that could be causing the problem? Here are some of the potential causes:

Poorly defined job expectations. Do your associates have a solid understanding of what their job actually entails and what your expectations of them are? While I prefer results-oriented management, in some jobs you really are paying them to be available 8 hours a day. If being on the Internet is stopping them from doing that, maybe you should clarify what the job requires of them.

Lack of employee engagement. If employees are spending time on the Internet, it might mean that they lack engagement for their job and the company. It pays to ask yourself what role you could have in this lack and what you could do to change that.

Poor management and feedback. If their performance is low, do they know it? I’m surprised how often associates seem to be unaware of what their performance level is. If they don’t know their performance is worsening, then how much feedback could you be giving them? Is it really Internet use that is holding them back if they don’t even know that somethings wrong?

Problem or perception?
You walk by an employees desk and see them on Facebook. You walk by later and they are on CNN. Every time you pass by they seem to be surfing the web. If you are noticing it, others probably are too and that can cause some misconceptions and hard feelings, even if the associate is one of your best performers. If an associate always seems to be surfing the Internet and still maintains stellar performance, what are you doing wrong? Are they bored, lack work to do, not getting challenged enough? Or are you just catching them taking breaks from their hectic work flow to unwind? In these situations, talking to your associate about the situation should be your first recourse, not punishment.

It is easy to become outraged when you think your employees are slacking at work. But following through with that emotion without any further self-reflection is ignoring the underlying cause of the behavior. So take a deep breath, evaluate the situation, and take responsibility if necessary.

And yes, I am aware of the irony of posting this while still at work.

2 Responses | Add your Own

  • 1 talentedapps :

    I think watching “Real men of Genius” commercials from Kris Dunn’s blog counts as valid work-related research. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

  • 2 HR Minion :

    Talentedapps – Kris Dunn’s blog is definitely work related!