In the Reign of Employee Monitoring, How Much is Too Much?

The Internet has made it possible for the unconscientious employees to binge-watch their favorite TV series, gossip with the peers, and even leak vital business information – all from the comfort of their private cubicles at the office. It is rather easier for the telecommuter employees to escape unethical behavior if their bosses do not monitor them.

How can we counter this behavior? The same technology can be used to solve the mess it inadvertently created. Employers are now able to key log every button their employees press, every website they visit and even follow their locations.

As cyber and smart device privacy becomes a hot issue, more and more tracking programs are emerging. So how can organizations safeguard their vital business interests without invoking mistrust among their workforce?

 

The Hawkeye Monitoring

It would be irresponsible and potentially threatening for a business if it forgoes monitoring for the same of trust. Nowadays, companies have on-site sensitive data about the financial or trade health of the business. And it is the obligation of the employers to shield their commerce information. According to a study on the cost of data breach sponsored by IBM, the average total cost of a data breach is $3.68 million. This figure seems minuscule as compared to the expenses incurred in the name of lawsuits or regulatory fines if the sensitive data is breached.

With the presence of internet at the workplace, there is a need for a comprehensive cyber strategy and the technology complementing this strategy. You must consider what damage the organization has to bear, in case the data is released accidentally or deliberately by an employee.

According to a study by Community Emergency Response Team, seventy-five percent of the data breaches are caused due to insider-outsider collusion. For that reason, modern employee monitoring software like Xnspy have been designed to scan in-house communications and correspondence for keywords that point to leaks, harassment, or other undesirable actions. These software also monitor any dramatic change in the digital activity of an employee to address potential issues. If further inspection of a matter is needed, the monitoring software can even log an employee’s keystrokes and take screenshots at any given time.

The “targeted” tools are actually what is needed in a monitoring software. These solutions should be able to find specific irregularities and notify instantly about them. But their use is different for companies of varying scale. Larger companies employ employee monitoring as they fear about theft. On the other hand, smaller companies are concerned about productivity. Because even if one person is unproductive in a smaller company, that’s an expense to the organization. Time wasting is another concern of the employers as it can be a sign of a disgruntled employee.

But monitoring is not limited to onsite email or routine monitoring. Companies are keeping a close watch on the locations of their employees. They are using GPS tracking, mobile tracking, and biometric examination for timekeeping and so on. But certain surveillance technologies can not only alienate employees but also violate privacy laws.

 

Do Employers Have the Right to Spy?

There is a thin line between monitoring and spying. Employers must be careful in maneuvering their legal space to monitor their workforce without violating their privacy. But typically it is employees that have over-blown the idea of their privacy.

Employees have implicitly permitted the employers to monitor them under the federal law. And while every American has the right of speech under the First Amendment, it does not lay out the laws for protecting employees if they are dismissed for something they say.

But employers have the right to monitor the electronic devices they own. Since the company is the possessor of the device, consent is the only thing it needs to monitor someone. But more employees now use their own devices at the job. They use them for business and personal means. But these devices must comply with the company’s policies as well.

A company holds the right of physical custody of a device for legitimate reasons. But these legitimate business purposes must be clearly defined such as carrying out an inquiry of employee practices or responding to a subpoena. Anything related to monitoring should be strictly confined to the business or job-related things. On the other hand, employees who do not agree to comply with this policy must not be permitted to use personal devices for work.

 

Be Transparent

There is a thin line between lawful monitoring and privacy intrusion. Sometimes, the legal standards for the violation of privacy could be highly objectionable to an employee. If an employer uses biometric scans of an employee without their consent, this would be like crossing the line.

The only way to make it legit and effective is to delineate unambiguous policies and offer regular training to your employees about the monitoring technologies at work. Employees would be more accepting and responsible if they know that their employer is tracking them to secure the organization.

When you will explain the rules to your employees and what purpose they meet, your employees will no more be irritated at being observed.

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