February 5 2007 – A survey by MessageGate, Inc. has found that e-mail continues to be the most popular corporate workflow tool but that employees exercise poor judgment in its use, increasing costs and business or legal risks.
Shaun Wolfe, CEO of MessageGate said:
“E-mail has replaced the corporate water cooler as the way to gossip and waste time while on the clock; unfortunately, it’s not nearly as visible. If an employee spent hours lingering around the water cooler, everyone would see and somebody would tell them to get back to work. Sitting at a desk and communicating via e-mail is not out of the ordinary, and there is less accountability because the boss can’t tell if your e-mails are gossip or work.”
MessageGate Activity Profiles (MAPs) provide companies with structured e-mail analysis of inbound, outbound and internal messages. The survey found that whatever the size and scope of the company, similar challenges are faced when dealing with e-mail.
- As little as 20 per cent of internal e-mail may be work-related; the remaining 80 per cent consists of alerts, newsletters, forwards, spam and carbon copies.
- Customers frequently include sensitive data (e.g. passwords) in e-mails meaning that companies must be alert to what is included in the reply.
- E-mail is often treated like instant messaging and is used for lengthy personal conversations; a particular risk for companies that prohibit instant messaging software.
- Employees frequently make accidental financial disclosures (e.g. on pending acquisitions).
- Messages including more than three carbon-copied addresses generally are for information only.
- Distribution of inappropriate images and videos from work accounts is common. The report points out that these are archived and identify the company source.
- Many companies use social security numbers as employee ID and these are widely distributed over e-mail both internally and externally.
- A typical internal e-mail is sent to two people on average, resulting in duplication and increased archive and storage costs.
The report argues that sharing these results with employees can increase awareness of relevant policies and practice. E-mail analysis can also reduce operational costs, and improve business processes as well as storage and retention.
Bradley Young, director of services for MessageGate commented:
“Quarterly MAPs are simple and provide a benchmark for companies to monitor and track improvements,” said. “As employee awareness around e-mail policy increases, companies can adjust policies as appropriate. Over time, employees become more sophisticated with regards to e-mail and corporate risk and exposure is greatly reduced.”
2003 E-mail Survey Reveals: One in Five Companies Has Fired an Employee for E-mail Abuse
June 24 2003 (Newstream) — According to a new survey from the American Management Association, Clearswift, and The ePolicy Institute, 22% of companies have terminated an employee for e-mail infractions and e-mail users spend about 25% of the workday on e-mail. Over 1,100 US employers participated in the 2003 E-Mail Survey, a follow-up to an e-mail survey conducted by the American Management Association and ePolicy Institute in 2001.
The survey in detail revealed that 14% of respondents noted that their organization has been ordered by a court or regulatory body to produce employee e-mail an increase of 5% over 2001, when 9% of respondents reported employee e-mail had been subpoenaed.
The average respondent spends about 107 minutes (1 hour 47 minutes) on e-mail every day … about 25% of the workday. While 24% report spending less than one hour, 31% spend more than two hours and 8% more than four hours.
76% of respondents say that they have lost time in the last year due to e-mail system problems. 35% estimate they lost only half a day, but 24% think they have lost more than two days.
“E-mail is a great communications tool but not without its shortcomings,” said Ivan O’Sullivan, vice president at Clearswift. “These statistics reveal and solidify the idea that companies need to be proactive in understanding how to protect their confidential information assets and train employees how to maximize productive use of e-mail.”
“Most employers drop the ball when it comes to educating employees about e-mail risks, rules, and responsibilities,” said Nancy Flynn, co-author of E-Mail Rules: A Business Guide to Managing Policies, Security, and Legal Issues for E-Mail and Digital Communication (AMACOM Books 2003) and executive director of The ePolicy Institute, www.ePolicyInstituteChange.com. “While 75% of organizations have written e-mail policies in place, only 48% offer e-policy education to employees, and merely 27% offer e-mail retention/deletion training.” said Flynn. On the upside, e-policy training has doubled since 2001, when 24% of companies offered e-policy education to employees.
“It’s important for organizations to establish, educate and enforce e-mail policies and rules to control and understand their employee’s use of e-mail. The legal issues inherent with use of e-mail are ever present as are the risks of lost productivity both from employee abuse and misuse,” said Flynn.
Eighty-six percent of respondents agree that e-mail has made them more efficient, in spite of the fact that 92% receive spam mail at work. Fully 47% say spam constitutes more than 10% of all their e-mail; 7% report spam represents over 50% of all e-mail received.
According to the compiled data, in 2003, more than half (52%) of U.S. companies engage in some form of e-mail monitoring of employees and enforce e-mail policies with discipline or other methods. In fact, 22% of companies have terminated an employee for e-mail infractions.
The use of technology to monitor e-mail and control message content has increased since 2001, when 24% of respondents reported using software to conduct key word or key phrase searches of e-mail and/or computer files. In 2003, over 40% of employers report using software to control written e-mail content. Fully 88% couple software with education.
While 90% of employers have installed software to monitor incoming and outgoing e-mail, only 19% are using technology to monitor internal e-mail among employees.
“Management’s failure to check internal e-mail is a potentially costly oversight,” says Ivan O’Sullivan, Vice President of survey co-sponsor Clearswift. “Off-the-cuff, casual e-mail 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% of respondents send and receive personal e-mail at work and 66% of companies lack a policy for deleting nonessential messages, compounds the problem,” says O’Sullivan.
Clearswift, provides software that helps companies enforce email policies to stem the tide of email that can pose threats to organizations and slow down networks. Clearswift’s products, EnterpriseSuite and MIMEsweeper help companies enforce policies to stop:
- Inappropriate email that can lead to legal liability for harassment and discrimination
- Loss of confidential information such as customer data, proprietary plans or intellectual property
- Loss of network productivity resulting in network downtime from large email attachment, malicious viruses and executables
- Lost employee productivity from spam, inappropriate web-surfing and online shopping
The survey was conducted to educate the marketplace on the importance of establishing epolicies, educating employees on the policy and enforcing the policies with software.
Clearswift is the world’s leading provider of software for managing and securing electronic communications, with a 23% share of the global content filtering market. Clearswift delivers the capabilities for organizations to protect themselves against e-mail and web-based threats, meet legal and regulatory requirements, implement productivity-saving policies and manage intellectual property passing through their network.
The company’s expertise lies in establishing and enforcing e-policies. Content security threats include the circulation of inappropriate images and text, Spam and oversize files, loss and corruption of data, breaches of confidentiality, as well as viruses and malicious code. Clearswift’s software portfolio includes Clearswift MIMEsweeper, a product family for e-mail and web e-policies and Clearswift ENTERPRISEsuite, a software infrastructure for managing e-policies in complex environments. More information about Clearswift, its products and services is available at www.clearswift.com
About American Management Association
American Management Association is the world’s leading membership-based management development organization. For 80 years, it has provided valuable and practical action-oriented learning programs to people at all levels, in all industries, from companies and agencies of all sizes. More than 500,000 AMA customers and members a year learn new skills and behaviors, gain more confidence, advance their careers and contribute to the success of their organizations through a wide range of AMA seminars, conferences and executive forums, as well as through AMA books and publications, research and print and online self-study courses.
About The ePolicy Institute
The ePolicy InstituteTM is a leading source of ePolicy and eMail-related products and services. The Columbus, Ohio-based ePolicy Institute is dedicated to helping employers limit electronic liabilities while enhancing employees’ eCommunications skills. Through the ePolicy Institute Speakers’ Bureau, the organization provides speaking, training and consulting services to clients throughout North America and around the globe. Executive Director and Author Nancy Flynn, a noted authority on ePolicy and eMail, is the author of five books published in four languages. Her titles include E-Mail Rules and bestsellers The ePolicy Handbook, and Writing Effective E-Mail. The go-to source for workplace ePolicy and eMail information and tips, Nancy Flynn/The ePolicy Institute has been featured by Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report, National Public Radio and thousands of media outlets worldwide. To book a consultation, speaker or media interview, contact email@example.com or visit www.epolicyinstitute.com.