29 April 2016 12:00
Staff unaware that messages could be monitored
Seven in ten UK employees send personal messages via email, apps and social media while they are at work but many are unaware that their bosses can monitor their activity.
New research from Dice, the online career site for the technology sector, reveals that Brits are unwittingly sending private messages at work, including applying or enquiring about a new job, without realising their employers could monitor the content.
More than two thirds (69%) of UK workers admit to regularly sending private emails, texts, WhatsApp, Facebook and instant messages during work hours - with some doing so up to 100 times per day. Young people (16-24 year olds) are leading this trend, with the vast majority (96%) saying they send personal messages at work.
Two-fifths (40%) have pursued a new job at work, one in ten (9%) have discussed private matters about their relationship or flirted with a colleague and almost a third (31%) have used their time at work to shop online.
But according to the results of the survey, 42% of employees weren't aware that their employers may be entitled to monitor the content of private messages sent on work hardware after a precedent was set by a recent landmark case where an employee was fired for using Yahoo Messenger to speak to his financeé at work.
When asked how they felt knowing their employees could monitor their private messages; 27% described it as an invasion of privacy, 21% said it was "big brother" and 18% said it is a breach of their human rights.
Even so, 49% of respondents said they wouldn't change their behaviour and 39% don't plan to be more mindful of what they say in these messages.
Jamie Bowler, Marketing Director of Dice Europe, said:
"It's clear that many people aren't aware of their workplace policies around private messaging and internet use, which could get them into trouble if they are monitored and get caught saying or doing something they shouldn't. Rules vary from workplace to workplace … Regardless of these, we'd always advise people to be careful about their communication in the workplace."