There is more uproar about Harvard searching employee emails today. I have tried to stay away from this issue as it seems to be a ridiculous complaint of employee indignation. Let me start by asking a few questions:
- Would you let a friend borrow the company car assigned to you?
- Many company cars today have tracking devices built into them to protect the car from theft and reduce insurance costs. Would you be ok with a company car knowing this?
- Is it acceptable to you to use company postage for mass personal mailings, like your family Christmas Card list?
- Have you ever become angry when learning that a peer has left the company for a competitor and brought clients with them… maybe even stolen YOUR accounts?
- Have you ever been upset when informed that there was no money left to give you a year-end bonus or raise?
We live and work in the Information Age. We create, generate, and re-use more information today than in all of history combined. The information we create while working, is on behalf of our employers. Put another way, any information we create while on the clock, while using a company computer, and in some cases while using a personal computer for work purposes, belongs to our employers. All of it. That includes, spreadsheets, proposals, marketing ideas, instant messages, videos, video chats, texts, and even emails.
The reality is, this point is GOOD for employees. It sets a boundary between the employer and the employee. If you do not want and employer to know what you are creating, sending, or sharing, DO NOT include them. We often recommend that employees use their own devices (phones, tablets, computers) for all personal work they need to do. If you are an employee and you don’t want employers to know personal information, don’t give them that opportunity. Use your own equipment, on your own network (there is no need to use the company network with 3G/4G wireless available in most places) or the company “guest” network, and preferably do it on your own time.
Now, why should you care? Why not be upset about employers reading your emails? There are many reasons. The main one has to do with something dear to your heart – money! Yes, it is true, you do not work for free (although I am sure like all of us, you sometimes feel that way!).
When employers scan the data created, whether in spreadsheets, documents, or emails, it gives them more opportunity to be successful, and ergo more opportunity to pay you a salary… and maybe even give you a bonus. I have never heard of anyone turning down cash bonuses, have you?
To add some complexity to this issue, certain industries have regulations that are requiring employers closely monitor data. If you work in Financial Services, Banking, Insurance, Chemical Manufacturing, Chemical Delivery, Pharmaceuticals, Healthcare, Defense, and soon Energy, the law requires monitoring. Regulators says it is for our own safety. IDK, but that is what they say.
If you are against employer monitoring of any kind, let’s take a quick look at the alternative scenarios:
Hackers get through your company firewall (NOTE: This happens all the time. Most firewalls are not up to date and the logs are hardly ever reviewed in a timely fashion – plus you are against that sort of thing, anyway.). The average amount of records stolen is approximately 30,000. The average breach costs $200 per record, for a “total” cost of $6 Million. Does your employer have an extra $6M on reserve? Additionally, the value of your company brand will drop between 17-31%, so any financing needed to clean up this mess is going to cost more.
Let’s take the “worst case” scenario out of the equation. Your company is lucky enough not to to be attacked by hackers.
Instead, one of your peers decides to leave…. and head over to a direct competitor. Since you don’t believe in monitoring data, your company doesn’t see that your peer, your longtime work friend, has decided to take with him the client list, the pricing program, marketing strategies for the next 3 quarters, and ideas in development for new products and services. Your company finds out AFTER your friend has left, when longtime clients start calling demanding you “price match” your friend at the new company. Clients leave feeling you betrayed them by charging too much and a lawsuit ensues. All the money spent could have been your bonus or raise. Instead it is spent cleaning up a mess.
That scenario is pretty bad, too. Let’s pretend that you offer something that has no competitors and no one ever wants to leave (it’s starting to sound like the mafia… lol).
Instead, everyone is happy. Did you know that 15% of employees steal from their employer? They steal products, services, equipment, and money. Heck, they steal anything they can get their hands on! That is not you. You don’t steal. You are in the 85% group of employees that are diligent and hard working. But who are those 15 percenters? Is it Joe in accounting? Susan in Sales? Or, maybe Donny in Logistics or Jenny in IT? The fact is NO ON KNOWS who the 15 percenters are. What we do know is that they are out there. Oh, and the cost of their stealing is about 7% of revenues. How does a 7% hit effect your profit margin? Why aren’t you getting a raise? Because your peers, the 15 percenters, stole it. Unfortunately, you can’t complain because you don’t believe in the value of monitoring data.
So, let me propose a question:
How many bricks would a mason have to steal before you fired him? Is it one? Is it one hundred? Is it one thousand? At some point in time, your brick wall, your brick patio, will cease to exist… because all the bricks have been stolen!
How is this any different than stealing data?
By the way, Lorenzi ROAR is an independent, continuous monitoring service. We work with companies of all sizes… and maybe even yours. Before you suggest this is a sales pitch, know that I am against CISPA, I don’t “friend” my employees on Facebook, and I deeply respect my privacy. But, when I am at work, I work. And the data I create belongs to The Lorenzi Group, NOT Rob Fitzgerald. We believe the secret to successfully implementing continuous monitoring solutions includes: independence, education, and transparency. Our research has proven that continuous monitoring can deliver more profitable companies and happier employees through transparency and education. The next time you balk at employers scanning weblogs and emails, ask yourself these two questions:
- Are they trying to save my job?
- Would I rather be unemployed?
What do you think of continuous monitoring? Is your company using it? Do you want it?