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Keeping Policies in Step with the Digital Age

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The holidays are a well-deserved break for employees and employers - a chance to relax and reflect on the past year's accomplishments. Now that the new year is underway, workplaces are gearing up to succeed. Various workplace issues are more relevant than ever, and it's the perfect time to make workers aware of your company's policies and procedures. There's no better time to clarify the guidelines they are expected to follow and to address up-to-the-minute issues that affect everyone in the workplace.

Digital Distracters

With technology and society in a state of constant flux, there are always issues that emerge and familiar ones that come to the forefront. A current one is cell phone/BlackBerry etiquette in the office. This novel technology now seems commonplace and while being continually connected has advantages it has its drawbacks as well. "I have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to digital devices at work," says Customer Service Supervisor Stan Barkley. "Using cells and BlackBerries send me the message that you're not committed and concentrating on what I'm paying you to do."

Managers must decide where to draw the line on usage and be sure that their policies are in line with the company's written rules. Many times co-workers will police themselves when a colleague is abusing their cell phone. If you do have to talk to one of your employees, follow these steps:

  • Set an Example: No one will respect your message you if you are misusing your own cell phone or BlackBerry.
  • Always Ask Politely: When you have to talk to someone, do it politely in private. Pull them aside and say "I've noticed your cell phone is distracting your co-workers. Would you mind putting it on vibrate and holding phone conversations away from your work area?"
  • Be Clear on Usage: Make sure your workers understand your company's written policy on personal phone calls at work and digital devices specifically.
  • Know the Law: Many states are passing laws against using a cell phone while driving unless it's hands free. Inform your employees about cell phone safety and legal issues pertaining to driving while they are in the field and on the clock.

Digital Threats

Far more sinister is the possible theft of proprietary information that digital storage devices pose. The advent of flash drives and mp3 players makes it fairly easy to transfer large amounts of information onto these small devices. Remind your employees that when they sign contracts binding them from sharing proprietary information, this includes in house data that could be transferred. Aside from this there is the concern that the device could carry a malicious virus or worm that would infect company computers. Be sure that workers understand that there will be consequences if they introduce a harmful program into your business system.

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