There are many positive ways that workplace monitoring can influence employees. Take a delivery company’s methods for example. With monitoring technology, a business can analyze delivery routes and calculate more efficient trips, which can help save time and cut down costs. Delivery drivers don’t have to stress as much about what routes to take, since the software analysis is taking care of it, and the delivery business is satisfied. Similar technologies can also help promote employee safety out in the field and ensure their well being in case they get lost or disappear.
There are also many different ways that monitoring technology can determine how employees work best. Implementing measures to encourage those best practices improves workplace harmony and morale. Monitoring can help companies determine proper organizational structures, time management techniques, and team member compatibilities. Monitoring can also help management figure out what tools employees need to do their jobs.
Monitoring technology can be used to improve employee and management communication as well, so employees can receive the proper feedback to keep them in a productive relationship with management. Employees and managers often develop conflicts due to misunderstandings as to what is expected or what should be done when. However, workplace monitoring has long been an integral part of many businesses. From handwritten quota-counts on ledgers to the discerning glances of passing foremen, there have always been various forms of monitoring that employers use to improve the productivity of their companies. However, with the advanced state of information technology today, we are seeing the introduction of powerful monitoring software, sensors, cameras, and other digital tools, which have changed the way that employers can monitor a workplace.
These changes are dramatic enough that they are raising new questions about the ethics and usefulness of workplace monitoring. So, should businesses monitor their workforce? Let’s take a look at some benefits and downsides.
With constant feedback, problems disappear and employees and managers can stay productive together.
Workplace monitoring has the capability of documenting conflicts and disputes, so it becomes more difficult for office politics to get in the way and poison the workplace atmosphere. Monitoring allows company leadership to identify bad actors and deal with them accordingly, keeping the rotten apples from ruining the bunch.
Finally, workplace monitoring can identify any serious distractions that are keeping employees from doing their work. Distracted employees can often put a drag on the rest of the team, causing bottlenecks in the workflow and frustrating everyone involved.
Of course, there are some potential pitfalls involved in workplace monitoring. Depending on the employees and the monitoring methods, workplace surveillance can encourage fear and distrust in the workplace. Overbearing surveillance and constant negative feedback can discourage employees and turn them against each other, increasing turnover and lowering workplace productivity.
Constant monitoring processes can also keep employees from their work. What may be classified as a distraction could very well be a useful tool for the employee’s job, for example. And many people simply don’t like to be monitored when they are working. It distracts from the task at hand. Many workers find that intrusive surveillance, evaluation procedures, and quotas have the effect of decreasing the quality of their work.
Too much workplace surveillance can have the opposite effect of reducing productivity in the workplace. Any employer that is looking to make use of monitoring technologies has to be careful when using them.
Workplace monitoring can result in negative effects as they reduce worker productivity, but it can go even further and break the law if employers aren’t careful. Federal laws are pretty broad, and then state laws can differ as well, but there are some basic guidelines to keep in mind. Employers do have the right to monitor employees while they’re working and using company property (e.g. using a computer or accessing company WiFi), but things get a little risky when it comes to monitoring places like break rooms where personal matters are being discussed. Additionally, monitoring bathrooms and locker rooms is off-limits.
The effects on employees if legal limits are breached are fairly obvious. For example, if a business conducts surveillance on a bathroom, they would not only get sued, they’d experience a huge breach of trust with their employees.
Fortunately, legal boundaries are relatively easy to navigate. Businesses should not monitor non-work areas, and it is important not to target any sort of group in particular, which could bring up a discrimination suit. Consent is always a good policy, and employees should know exactly how they are being monitored. If the monitoring policies are sensible and productive, no one should have a serious objection.
Ultimately, workplace monitoring will affect employees in different ways depending on how it is implemented. Heavy surveillance and constant negative feedback is a good way to stress out employees, lower morale, and ultimately destroy productivity. On the other hand, strategic monitoring that is appropriate to company interests will improve efficiency and productivity, resulting in happier employees. Positive feedback coupled with moderated monitoring can help improve harmony in the workplace and contribute to a well-functioning working environment.
Any business looking to implement a monitoring program should get legal advice about how to implement it. It also helps to look up more information on the subject, and places like Privacy Rights Clearinghouse have useful resources to check into. It is also good to get a professional opinion from someone who has experience in the subject. Many businesses tap their in-house IT professionals or hire outside help. Companies like NIC are offering outsourced IT services in Los Angeles and other areas.
Every business engages in some form of workplace monitoring. With increasingly sophisticated monitoring technologies, there is great potential to expand the reach and effectiveness of monitoring programs. However, these powerful technologies can affect employees in many different ways depending on how they are applied. Legal advice and professional expertise can help employers implement a monitoring program that is fair to employees with positive effects across the board.
This is a guest post by Stephanie Rowan who is a freelance writer with a background in information technologies and cyber security. Stephanie is interested in exploring the complex ways that society and technology interact.
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