Porn Addiction: A Secret “Boss” in the Workplace

bigstock Internet Online Cyber Porn 32971067 300x199 Porn Addiction: A Secret “Boss” in the Workplace

When John, a senior account executive in a large corporation, first came to me, he was on the verge of losing both his job and his wife to his new “boss” — internet porn. This “boss” had taken over his life or, more accurately, John had allowed it to take his time, his money, his work relationships, his friendships, and his marriage. Although watching internet porn, either at work or at home, is an isolating activity primarily done alone, John was not alone in getting caught up in his sexual compulsion. According to a recent study on Biz 3.0 about Wasted Time In The Workplace, 70% of all internet porn traffic occurs during the nine-to-five work day. It’s no secret that productivity is decreasing and that offices without monitored internet activity are at risk of their employees viewing pornographic material.

 

The Myth of “But I’m Not Hurting Anyone”

“But I’m not hurting anyone,” John protested when he first came to see me at my counseling practice for sexual addicts. As a former sex addict myself, I know the emptiness of those words. John was not only hurting himself and his marriage, but also his company and his co-workers. His porn addiction “boss” was leeching his time and attention, and paying him nothing in return. The time he wasted when he could be working occurred not only when John was watching porn, but also when he was planning to look at porn and not be interrupted.

 

Porn Addiction at Work Decreases Accomplishments and Income

During my over 25 years as a sex addiction counselor, I have seen or talked on the phone with hundreds of men similar to John. They were betraying their real boss by becoming addicted to their alternate “boss” — porn addiction. They were also betraying their organizations, their relationships, their spouses, and their children. But, primarily, they were deceiving themselves. In fact, when these men did the required psychological and emotional work to make changes in their addictive behavioral patterns, they not only led more fulfilling lives, but in most cases they also made more money for themselves and/or for their companies. Once they compassionately confronted their addictive behaviors and the reasons for it, they no longer were torn up inside from living in fear and shame. Specific examples, explanations, and approaches to changing sexually compulsive behaviors are detailed in my book Breaking the Cycle: Free Yourself from Sex Addiction, Porn Obsession, and Shame.

 

A Hidden Cost of Internet Porn Addict in the Workplace

In March of this year, it was reported that over thirty employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission in seven different offices around the country were investigated for downloading porn on their SEC computers. Seventeen of these public employees were earning between $99,356 and $222,000 a year. In a survey by Qumu, a business video platform provider, company employees admitted to watching videos on company computers or mobile devices, and even to viewing porn when they could. Although we’ve all watched at least a few YouTube videos at work, internet porn addiction frequently leads to extensive online video streaming which just as frequently puts an added strain — and increased cost — on a company’s network connection by the use of added bandwith. According to Qumu, even a 90-second video clip is 700 times larger than a typical email.

 

Porn Addiction – The “New Alcoholism”

There was a time when individuals at a company knew a co-worker was an alcoholic and said nothing. Although some still say nothing, it has become more acceptable in corporate cultures for a co-worker to express concern about another co-workers alcoholism. Just as with porn addicts today, alcoholics then might have said, “But I’m not hurting anyone.” The truth was that the alcoholic’s tardiness, excuses for missed deadlines, unexplained absences, and careless work were behaviors that negatively impacted the workplace. Even one alcoholic could damage an entire organization. Now, fortunately, it is gradually becoming more acceptable to pay attention to the signs of porn addiction and, tactfully if possible, point out that such behavior in the workplace is hurting a lot of people as well as, in many situations, the company’s bottom line.

 

Signs of an Internet Porn Addict in the Workplace

If a co-worker becomes increasingly isolated, spends more and more time alone in an office or cubicle, says he’ll stay in rather than go with others to lunch, seems preoccupied, and generally participate less in activities with other co-workers, these could be signs of internet porn addiction. Many of the porn addicts I have seen in my counseling practice were accomplished men in various fields who had gradually let their work ethic slide into a ditch of self-destructive behaviors. If they were in sales, for example, their numbers typically declined and they often set up their days not to increase sales, but to have more and more time alone to watch internet porn.

 

Steps for Decreasing Internet Porn in the Workplace

In addition to tactfully and, if possible, nonjudgmentally intervening to encourage a co-worker to seek appropriate help for internet porn addiction, there are steps a company can take to make it more difficult to access internet porn in the workplace. Here are just a few possibilities:

 

Establish workplace internet usage rules.
Realistically, a company cannot ban all non-work related internet use, such as checking personal email. However, it can be part of company policy to have rules against viewing any non-work related videos and most non-work related websites, including pornography.

Monitor internet access.
An IT department can set up web filters that monitor internet usage. If an employee knows he’s being monitored, he may be less likely to access internet porn.

Create a Workplace Environment of Awareness
Many workplaces have an unwritten code of ignoring inappropriate behavior. Such behavior may include alcoholism, sexual harassment, and internet porn addiction. We all know that the costs to businesses of ignoring such behaviors is huge, not only in monetary terms, but also in legal liabilities, workplace morale, and employee turnover. If not looking away from such behaviors, but becoming aware and acting on that awareness is encouraged in the workplace, such behaviors such as internet porn addiction can be limited. This can benefit not only the company, the employee who is the internet porn addict, but also the other employees who may feel uncomfortable when they know such behavior is staking place and nothing is being done about it.

 

The cost of time wasted watching internet porn during working hours does not just impact the workplace, it frequently impacts the co-workers of the porn addict. How would you feel if the guy in the next office or cubicle was being paid as much or more than you, but was sneaking company hours every day to watch internet porn in his office? However, now that you know that a porn addict may be wasting time in your workplace, also know that it is an issue than can be resolved to the benefit of the company, the porn addict employee, and the co-workers.

 

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