Surveillance is found everywhere. In terms of monitoring in the workplace, the question of whether or not monitoring should be conducted is an important one with relevance to productivity, safety and security which could ultimately lead to a happy and trustful environment.
Employee monitoring also incorporates the debate of privacy, human rights and ethics. According to the American Management Association and the ePolicy Institute, 66% of companies monitor the internet activities of their employees. The survey also suggests that employers are looking for the kinds of websites their employees use on company time. Around 1/3rd of employers who said they monitor their employees have fired someone for using the web inappropriately.
Apart from monitoring web surfing, there are other ways in which employees can be monitored. There are a number of ways to do so however there is a fine line between disallowing them to have privacy and violating their rights. While monitoring can be done in many ways, crossing the line should be avoided. Some of these ways include access panels, email monitoring, desktop monitoring programs, attendance and time monitoring, automatic screen warnings, internet use audit, keystroke logging, physical searches, telephone and text message monitoring, search engine monitoring and so forth.
From the perspective of business leadership, monitoring software’s allow business transactions to be conducted; can help in avoiding liability and conduct investigating which can be helpful in mitigating any potential risks and liabilities. Monitoring can also provide employee feedback and discourage any type of illegal or unethical behavior.
Employees on the other hand have increasing concerns with respect to such technology being used against them to monitor anything that they do. Employees too aren’t always connected to their desktop PC and have more devices which make them feel they are connected to work 24/7. The timing of 9-5 is no longer found in many companies. Due to this monitoring has become ubiquitous. Business leaders need to also understand how problematic it can be and how excessive monitoring can be unreasonable. Some of the ways it can be problematic consists of reducing company morale, leading to employees having to sneak around to do personal work during office timings, invasion of the expectation of privacy by the employee, dissent due to unhappy employees and resistance of employees to adapt to new technologies due to fear.
There needs to be a balance between the company’s well being and protection of employee privacy, a matter which is very delicate. Three purposes around which workplace monitoring should be built are business purposes, in order to avoid any kind of liability and for the purpose of investigations.
Also, always ask yourself why is there a need to monitor employees? How will monitoring impact the business and will it cause relationships amongst staff to change? Will it help in making the company a better one? Getting good answers should cause you not to conduct monitoring however when the answers to such questions are bad, think twice before engaging in workplace monitoring. It could help save you your reputation and your employees as well.