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Drawbacks of Employee Monitoring and How to Address Them

Almost every business uses some sort of employee monitoring software and it is totally acceptable – it boosts transparency in the workplace, decreases financial losses made by unproductively spent work time, advances data security and brings several other benefits but like everything in this world – it is not ideal and has its demerits. Even if the pros clearly outweigh the cons, understanding how to address them will benefit you get the most out of your employee monitoring software.

Is employee monitoring software legal?

I wish there was one easy answer to this question, but as common in life, it’s intricate. It depends principally on where your business is established.

If you work in the US, you can monitor the activity of your workers on the hardware that your business owns. Also, if you’re the owner of the email system employed by your workers, then you can monitor their email correspondence. You can also overhear to your employees’ phone calls at work unless you understand that the phone call is private. However, if workers have been told not to use business phones for private calls, they take the chance that their conversation may be monitored. You can utilize GPS for tracking the location of company-owned vehicles and other things.

The legality of monitoring workers’ actions on the equipment that belongs to the worker and is not controlled by the company is more complicated. You should assure that the employee that uses his own devices for work objects is well apprised about the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in your company.

How does employee monitoring affect privacy and trust in the workplace?

Many staff working in the company that monitors their actions feel that their office privacy is very limited and eventually, they feel more fatigued and less motivated. It is strongly connected with trust in the workplace – when privacy is inadequate people tend to feel that the employer does not trust them, and in turn, they do not trust the employer and their managers. And it has been shown, in the study published in the Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organization in 2015, that trust directly impacts job performance and productivity.

Employee monitoring may negatively impact workplace privacy unless you address particular issues that may appear if you implement employee monitoring poorly. Although it is never too late to fix problems with worker privacy and trust, it is unquestionably better to tackle the problem before it arises.

What about stress?

Stress is a kind of mental and physiological arousal and according to the first Yerkes-Dodson law, to reach the optimal level of performance, the optimal level of arousal is needed – productivity is hurt by both too low levels of stress or stimuli and too high. The second law states that the optimal arousal level is different for tasks of different difficulty. It means that for employees performing easy, repetitive tasks increased level of stress caused by employee monitoring can be helpful for achieving the optimal level of arousal, yet for those who usually perform difficult, complex tasks it will be disturbing and their productivity and focus will suffer.

The first step to take on a way to decrease work-related stress is to identify the problem. Increased idle time and frequent absence may indicate that your employee is not coping with stress well and needs your help.

How to keep your employee data safe?

Using employee monitoring software and gathering a lot of data is integrated. Keeping it safe is a must – for the good of your workers and your business. The simplest thing you can do to recover your data security is to establish strong passwords. They should be combined with capital and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols and should be from 8 to 12 characters long. Moreover, it shouldn’t contain sequences of letters or numbers or those that are close on the keyboard. 

The next step is to set up a firewall and install the antivirus program. If your workers use laptops, mobile phones or any other portable devices, make sure they’re encrypted, so without a correct password, it is impossible to read the information stored on the hard drive. In order to avoid losing your data, you should also schedule periodic backups to an external drive or to the cloud.

To sum it up…   

Employee monitoring is a standard and has been there for a long time. However, with technology these days it is becoming more and more difficult, bringing more and more legal and ethical concerns. Such sophisticated monitoring equipment may induce privacy, trust and stress issues in the workplace, and collecting so much data must be followed by establishing safety procedures. Overall, when implemented precisely all of the difficulties caused by employee monitoring are avoidable or possible to solve, once they occur.

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