Almost every business requires their employees to use the internet in order to send emails internally and externally. There are a wide range of benefits when it comes to employee internet and email usage, but there are also serious negatives too.
Liability for employee actions, lowered productivity through time wasting online, downloading malicious software, sending inappropriate content and the accidental disclosing of confidential information via email are just a few threats your company faces. That’s why knowing the right way to protect your business against them is so important.
To help you stay ahead of any threats, we’ve laid out everything you need to know about an internet and email policy for your business. So, read on to find out why you need one and how to implement your own robust internet usage policy in order to keep your business protected. Alternatively, you can visit the Human Resources page for more of our HR inspired blogs.
Why does an email usage policy matter?
Malware is becoming far more sophisticated and remains a major threat to businesses across the globe. The ransomware variant is the latest example to show just how severely businesses and organisations can be hit. While hackers can breach your system through other means, poor email habits and the opening of infected attachments are also largely to blame.
Liability is also another area that can be reduced with an effective email policy. The actions of a single employee could be devastating for a business if they haven’t taken the time to lay out company guidelines in an internet usage policy. In addition to liability, educating your employees and having guidelines in pace have other added benefits, such as teaching proper email etiquette when writing and sending business emails.
Sadly, there are still many people who gladly share racist, sexist, and wholly inappropriate jokes through office email systems. Failing to forbid these types of offensive emails or creating a way to report them to management could land your company in court with an employee claiming for harassment.
What should you remember to include in yours?
When creating your email usage policy, you need to include guidelines that relevant to your business. Not every business is the same but there are some important factors that should always be considered.
Your email policy should clearly state what kind of content is allowed to be sent internally and externally. In this section of your policy you can outline what kind of email use is considered offensive, inappropriate or illegal as well as what kind of company information is considered sensitive.
While it may seem obvious how sensitive and confidential information should be transmitted via email, your policy should include a set of clear rules for employees to abide by. This will help keep your valuable data more secure and help to stop it falling into the wrong hands.
Changing passwords for email accounts is an effective way to keep your information and IT systems secure. Set out guidelines in your email usage policy to explain how often company email accounts should have passwords changed.
A definite theme of your email policy is security and you need to choose carefully whether you’ll allow your employees to access personal emails at work. In addition to this, you should touch whether personal devices can be used to send and receive work emails as well as whether your company email system can be accessed outside of the office. This will help to reduce the risk your company faces in regards to malware.
It’s vital to set out clear guidelines on whether employee emails will or will not be monitored and read. This should mention the use of specialised email scanning software as well as the potential for emails being read manually by management or HR staff. This section should also cover your company’s process for archiving emails and for how long this would occur.
Finally, there should be clear guidelines for what kind of disciplinary action will occur depending on how your email policy is breached. Depending on the severity of the breach, your company may choose disciplinary action over dismissal.
Key points to remember
Before implementing a new email and internet usage policy you should examine your existing one. You may only need to improve your existing email policy and this could save you time and resources. However, if you don’t already have one in place, create a team of senior employees and task them with working out what kind of an email policy your company requires.
After implementing your new policy, you must inform all of your employees about new rules and guidelines as well as start dates and updates to contracts. The policy should be enforced whenever possible and any breach of your email usage policy shouldn’t be overlooked by management.