Workplace Monitoring of Staff

Employee monitoring appears be justified by the following two reasons. The first is based upon the justification of protection for the employer against legal recourse from others due to the actions of their employees, “legal compliance and liability are two of the top three reasons why managers are monitoring employees” (Wakefield, 2004), I believe this makes make sense especially in a society such as the US which is seen as a very litigious society. The second is due to the rise in flexible working conditions as cited in Büyük & Keskin 2012 “One of the major repression tools in today’s business environment is organisational surveillance, which is an outcome of flexible working conditions” I think that this is also justified because some people will always exploit a situation if given to much freedom.
There are many ways that employers can monitor employees, some but not all of these include:-

  • Recording on CCTV cameras
  • Opening mail or e-mail
  • Use of automated software to check e-mail
  • Checking phone logs or recording of phone calls
  • Checking logs of websites visited

Bullet point list from the Citizens Advice Bureau website.
There are also applications that “allows supervisors to randomly access employee computer screens or send an employee’s monitor display to the supervisor for inspection” (Wakefield, 2004). Furthermore, “Surveillance software can also record every employee keystroke” (Wakefield, 2004).
I work in two different environments, when I am in the my company’s office, I believe that I am under no monitoring, I have worked in environments before that monitors activity heavily, and I didn’t like it very much. However, when I am in a school environment, all internet access is heavily monitored and very restrictive. I use a third party company website to manage staff and student email and user accounts and network firewall settings, this site is heavily monitored, recording who logged in and when and records all the changes I make. I believe this does make good practice. However, I use my own mobile phone within schools and that is not monitored.
With regards to introducing workplace monitoring, I think there would be a certain amount of resistance from employees to the idea, “employees mentioned they would not like to be monitored” (Büyük & Keskin 2012). But I believe that if the employer can explain and justify the reasons for introducing monitoring via “setting policies with clearly stated monitoring intentions” (Wakefield, 2004) and “have a monitoring policy and follow it” (Wakefield, 2004) then resistance to the introduction of monitoring could be lessened.
Word count 418

Büyük, K, & Keskin, U 2012, ‘Panopticon’s Electronic Resurrection: Workplace Monitoring as an Ethical Problem’, Turkish Journal Of Business Ethics, 5, 10, pp. 75-88, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 8 March 2014.
Wakefield, R, 2004, ‘Employee Monitoring and Surveillance – The Growing Trend’. ISACA Information Systems Audit and Control Association. Available online at accessed 08/3/2014
Citizens Advice Bureau, no date or author available. ‘Monitoring at work’. ‘Advice guide – self-help from Citizens Advice’. Available online at accessed 8/3/2014

Written by Mark

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