How Do You Discourage Personal Work on Company Time? Three Solutions

Situation: A company recently hired two employees. In their first weeks of work, they were observed using company computers, on company time, to do personal work – in one case to monitor a personal web-based business. What is the best way to communicate company policy to these individuals?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Everything starts with the orientation on the first day of employment and the atmosphere established in the first weeks of work.
    • Particularly in a small company, new employees should meet with the CEO whose job it is to describe the culture of the company, the vision for the future and broad expectations of the role and contributions expected from employees.
    • Matters concerning personal work on company time and with company equipment should be clearly addressed in the employee handbook. Key points should be reviewed by a representative of upper level management, along with a conversation to assure that these key points are clearly understood.
    • Particularly during the initial weeks of work, new employees should have frequent meetings with their immediate supervisors to assure that they have the resources they need, that any questions they have about their work are addressed, and that they are performing to company and role expectations.
  • Given what has been observed, you, as CEO, should definitely speak to them about the behavior observed, and give them the opportunity to explain what is happening.
    • Clarify expectations of all employees, and ask whether these individuals understand these expectations.
    • Document the meeting. If the behavior continues, take action.
  • What is being done by other employees, and is there a broader issue to be addressed? Are other employees behaving similarly? If so, the new employees may just be responding to what they perceive as allowable behavior within the company.
    • Start with a company meeting or a letter to all employees. Highlight relevant passages from the employee handbook, and speak in terms not only of company culture but of the destructive impact that this behavior has on company performance and viability. The future of everyone in the company is tied to company performance and success.

Key Words: Leadership, Team, Expectations, Personal Work, Company Time, Policy, Orientation, Culture, Expectations, Employee, Handbook, Evaluation Period, Supervision, Documentation

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