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Clearing the Ethical Hurdles of Employee Monitoring

Clearing the Ethical Hurdles of Employee Monitoring

Employee monitoring—the practice of keeping an eye on your employees and their computer activity during work hours—isn’t exactly a new practice. However, with remote work suddenly seeing a huge boost in popularity, many businesses have sought to confirm that their workers are spending their work time as productively as possible. If you do choose to go this route, however, it is important to be aware of the lines that you cannot cross.

Monitoring Employees Without Their Knowledge

We figured it would be most appropriate to discuss the no-go option first, which would be to start monitoring your employees without their knowledge or consent. As you would imagine, this is the shadier side of the monitoring spectrum, and is actually illegal in most cases. Unless you have reason to believe an employee is actively acting out and are investigating them, you are not allowed to use monitoring software to keep an eye on your team without telling them.

So, as much as I hate to have to say it, don’t do that. Instead, inform your team of your intention to monitor their systems, what you will be monitoring, and—most crucially—why. This is the real key. Transparency is the most important thing to have with your employees. Studies have even shown that this kind of transparency makes your team more comfortable with these kinds of arrangements.

Monitoring Employees While They Aren’t Working

Again, with so many employees working remotely, it may be tempting for many employers to just continue monitoring these devices even after work hours have ended. It’s one less thing to worry about that way, right?

Wrong. 

What if the employee ends their day or takes a break, and decides to log into their bank account to check in on their finances? You could easily capture sensitive information without meaning to, putting you on the hook in the legal sense. To avoid this, you have a few options you can exercise. Your first option is to simply ban employees from using work technology for personal matters. Your second option is to enable your team members to turn off the monitoring software when they are not actively working.

Not Making Use of Your Monitoring Data

A big part of ethically monitoring your employees comes down to your intent, your motivation for doing so. Are you looking to improve productivity by identifying inefficiencies and bottlenecks? Great. Are you ensuring that there are no data leaks that need to be mitigated? Fantastic. Are you simply using it to make sure that your employees are at their desks working? There are better ways to account for that.

Employee monitoring should always be a means, not the end. Whenever you implement it, it needs to be in service of a specific goal. When used in this way, and not just because you want to keep a closer eye on your team, it can bring some significant benefits.

Dresner Group can help bring these benefits and more to your operations. To find out how our team can help you implement and manage the technology your business needs supporting it, give us a call at 410-531-6727 today.

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