US survey: 1 in 5 have fired for email abuse

US survey: 1 in 5 have fired for email abuse

Feel like you spend a quarter of your work day wading through a flood of emails? You aren't alone. A new American survey has found that workers spend an average of a quarter of their workday emailing. But nearly half of their workplaces weren’t monitoring or enforcing policies to control email use.

The survey conducted by the American Management Association, email management software vendor Clearswift, and the ePolicy Institute, found employers are taking steps to control email abuse - one in five companies surveyed had fired an employee over inappropriate use.

While three out of four firms had email policies in place, only half engaged in email monitoring or enforcement of their policies. Clearswift’s Asia Pacific MD, Chy Chuawiwat, said these statistics were mirrored in Australia.

The use of email monitoring technology had grown 16 per cent since the 2001 survey, with more 40 per cent of companies using software to control written email content. Ninety per cent had installed software to monitor incoming and outgoing mail, but only 19 per cent were monitoring internal mail.

“Management’s failure to check internal mail is a potentially costly oversight,” Chuawiwat said. “Off the cuff, casual email conversations among employees are exactly the type of messages that tend to trigger lawsuits, arm prosecutors with damaging evidence and provide the media with embarrassing real-life disaster stories.”

“The fact that 90 per cent of respondents spend and receive personal email at work compounds the problem.”

Spam remains another drain on businesses’ time and bandwidth: 92 per cent of respondents said they had received spam at work; 47 per cent said spam made up more than 10 per cent of all their email.

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