While the Internet has certainly brought about many advantages, it has also caused some concerns for business owners and managers. Because so many employees have access to the Internet, it makes it very tempting—and very easy—for them to use the Internet for personal reasons during work hours. Although an employee that’s glued to the computer monitor might well be doing something work-related and productive, he might also be surfing the Internet, checking out restaurant reviews or looking at the weather forecast for the next week.

It’s easy to understand why business owners and managers might choose some type of employee Internet monitoring software to track the computer use of employees. And these types of programs have definitely gained a great deal of popularity over the past several years. But there is a problem, and that is that these software programs are extremely invasive. This is particularly true in situations where the employees don’t even know they’re being monitored. Some people may consider this an invasion of privacy and, if provoked enough, may even look into taking legal action against the employer.

But aside from the privacy issue, there’s another facet of this approach that business owners should consider: using software as an employee monitor is completely ineffective. And the reason for this can be summed up in two words—smart phones. Since the advent of smart phone technology, employees have the ability to access the Internet without even using their workplace computers. Those same restaurant reviews and weather reports are just as easy to access (in fact, even easier) through a smart phone. And this doesn’t even take into account the various other temptations that the Internet presents. Consider the lure of social media sites like Facebook and others. The popularity of these sites grows each and every day. If your employees truly want to gain Internet access, they will—whether it’s on their office computers or their smart phones. You, as an employer, simply can’t purchase software that can effectively act as an Employee Monitor when it comes to Internet use.

So why not approach the problem from another angle altogether? Rather than using invasive “spyware,” why not measure an employee’s productivity instead? In other words, tackle the problem with a positive solution rather than a negative one. So instead of focusing on how much time the employee is spending being nonproductive, focus on how much time the employee is spending actually doing productive work. Once you make that determination, you can develop a plan for how to motivate the employee to increase productivity.

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