WhatsApp is becoming increasingly popular everywhere. It is being extensively used in the workplace as a means for employees to connect and communicate with each other. With the help of WhatsApp, colleagues can stay in touch with one another to share ideas and exchange files, especially when they are working remotely in the times of COVID-19.
While WhatsApp proves to be quite helpful for employees to connect and communicate with each other in the workplace and even remotely, let us not forget that the informality of WhatsApp group chats and the exchange of private messages can also raise problems in the workplace and consequently, expose the companies to the potential risks of legal claims.
Employee monitoring apps help employers learn how to spy on someone in the workplace and make them monitor employee WhatsApp conversations but still they should not make forget the risks caused by using WhatsApp as the mode of communication in the workplace.
Risks with WhatsApp Use in the Workplace
Employers can face certain risks with the use of WhatsApp as a mode of communication in the workplace. One of the most common problems on WhatsApp that can arise is when an employee shares something on a work-related WhatsApp group that other employees added in the same group find offensive or inappropriate.
If an employee shares inappropriate content in the WhatsApp group that is of a discriminatory nature is more likely to lead to discrimination and/or unlawful harassment claims unless the employer acts promptly and decisively as soon as he is made aware of the situation.
Another problem with the use of WhatsApp in the workplace is when bullying takes place. This happens when an employee sends abusive messages to the other employee on WhatsApp or when an employee deliberately removes the other employee from a work-related WhatsApp group because of some personal grudge against that person. If such sort of behavior by the employees remains unnoticed by the employer, it can lead to claims of harassment.
Another risk associated with the casual use of WhatsApp communication includes inadvertently sharing private or confidential information on the instant messaging app. This mostly happens in a large WhatsApp group where employees share something in the group chat assuming that it is common knowledge in the workplace. However, that particular information may only have been intended to be disclosed among a small group of people at work.
What Can an Employer Do to Prevent WhatsApp Risks?
The first thing an employer can do to prevent risks associated with the informal use of WhatsApp in the workplace is to monitor employee WhatsApp chats. They can use WhatsApp spy apps for Android or iPhone, depending on the type of device companies have handed to employees for communication in the workplace.
It is normally perceived that WhatsApp chats cannot be monitored as the app offers end-to-end encryption; all chats exchanged on the app are encrypted and cannot be read by another person apart from the sender and the receiver.
All WhatsApp accounts are private as they are created on individual smartphones, using different phone numbers, and the messages can only be viewed by people who have created an account on WhatsApp and who are a part of a particular WhatsApp group.
Employees can create countless WhatsApp groups in the workplace that the employer would have no idea about until some problem arises. As an employer, you should be aware of all the WhatsApp groups your employees are a part of. If you think WhatsApp group chats can lead to severe problems in the workplace, you can consider imposing a ban on those groups.
However, you need to make sure this decision won’t affect your relationship with your employees and that they do not feel suffocated in the work environment by not being able to communicate with their colleagues in a light mode.
Create A Policy for WhatsApp Use
If imposing an outright ban on the use of WhatsApp groups in the workplace sounds too outrageous, perhaps you should create and implement a workplace policy much similar to the internet, email, and social media usage policy. You can create guidelines for what is acceptable and appropriate and what is not when communicating with other staff workers through WhatsApp.
By devising and implementing a comprehensive workplace policy for WhatsApp use, you can clearly demonstrate to your employees what type of behavior is unacceptable and what sort of content is inappropriate. This policy will also explain the potential risks of inappropriate use of WhatsApp for an employee. For instance, the policy will also include the issuance of a warning to an employee that any breach of policy can lead to disciplinary action as well as dismissal from the job.
Communicate with Your Employees
Last but not least, as an employer, you should be able to communicate with your employees as much as possible. Creating and issuing a policy is not enough. Your staff should be aware of it too. As soon as the policy for WhatsApp use is created, be sure to send it out to your employees via email or any other mode of communication that you use in the workplace and then ask them to respond to let you know that they have gone through it.
It is noteworthy to understand that having a policy for WhatsApp use in the workplace may not prevent the occurrence of issues in the future but it is going to be helpful if an employer is contemplating while taking disciplinary action against an employee who has been involved in discriminatory or offensive behavior through WhatsApp while at work.
Surely, the use of an employee monitoring solution in the workplace can help you keep a close check on your employee’s WhatsApp chats. Mobistealth offers an employee monitoring feature as it helps you view all the sent and received WhatsApp messages on the employee’s device.
Besides using the monitoring solution, you should also communicate expressively with your staff workers about what behavior is acceptable, what content is appropriate, and what is not in the workplace while they are using WhatsApp.