Employee monitoring: how not to go overboard

Loyal employee monitoring.

News of companies using excessive surveillance and monitoring of their employees are frequent in the media. Going overboard with using employee monitoring software and surveillance may cause violations of human rights of your employees and dramatically reduce their efficiency because of constantly working in fear.

Not so long ago, the European Court of human rights has identified a case that some English college violated the rights of the employee and invaded his privacy by monitoring email, Internet use and phone calls in the workplace.

Excessive employee monitoring

How far can you go in monitoring of your employees? For example, it is logical to assume that phone calls and online correspondence of employees remain confidential until their management informs them of the opposite.

It is clear that managers use some of the employee productivity monitoring tools on legitimate grounds to assess the productivity of the company, to ensure the quality and monitor sales. There is a number of tools, such as hidden cameras, surveillance systems, Internet usage monitoring, etc. which are used to catch thieves, monitor employees’ compliance with the rules of safety at work, etc.

To keep a balance between the employee monitoring for business needs on the one hand, and the employees’ rights of privacy on the other, any interference in the private life must be highly justified.

If you take for example covert surveillance conducted without the consent and notification of employees, which is a dangerous situation for both parties, even when such a tool is used in case of suspicion of a serious violation.

If the employer suspects that an employee leaks information or promotes competitors, such surveillance can be justified. And the more factual evidence of stealing confidential information is revealed, the easier it is to justify surveillance. As any employer who uses meticulous control of personnel should expect claims and complaints from the employee. After all, if the employee considers that supervision and monitoring was excessive, he can sue for damages for breach of contract and wrongful dismissal.

A clear policy for employee productivity monitoring

Employers must clearly and convincingly explain the reasons for monitoring and control in the workplace to employees. Employees have to be informed about tools for monitoring their work upon hiring and reminded about it later.

If radical measures of employee monitoring (video surveillance, monitoring and recording of phone calls, email correspondence analysis, etc.) cannot be avoided then employees must be warned about such policies so that they reduce personal use of corporate communications to a minimum.

This way a manager will be able to reduce the number of complaints and claims from employees dissatisfied with excessive monitoring.

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