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Employee Monitoring Ethics

What are Employee Monitoring Ethics?

The demand for employee monitoring software has increased over the last few years, as the pandemic caused many employees to transition to remote work and supervisors found themselves challenged to find new methods to supervise them. It has been common knowledge that activity at work will be monitored but being monitored in a work-from-home environment has prompted many employees to question the ethics of employee monitoring practices.

Employee monitoring involves tracking employee activities using various systems such as video monitoring, electronic surveillance, and computer monitoring. Employee monitoring ethics explain how to monitor employees and their work without compromising their privacy. Through employee monitoring ethics, employers can establish transparent monitoring systems that allow for the creation of a safe and productive workplace. Without employee monitoring ethical frameworks, employee monitoring activities could cause employees to feel demotivated, disengaged, violated, and they may even quit and/or take legal action. The following are tips for effective and ethical employee monitoring:

Employee monitoring policy. Establishing a detailed employee monitoring policy provides employees with an understanding of the rationale, technologies, and parameters involved in employee monitoring activities. The policy should clearly define why employees will be monitored, exactly what will be monitored (e.g., emails, private messages, social media, work screens, internet activities)- which clarifies employee privacy expectations while working, types of monitoring (e.g., video, audio, digital), personal device monitoring (including rationale), and the hours when employees will be monitored. Transparent informed consent provides employees with clear expectations and helps to establish trust.

Privacy laws. Ensure that employee monitoring policies are developed in alignment with relevant national and state privacy laws. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA) in the United States even prohibits any intended, actual or attempted interception of electronic communication. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) act in the EU directs employers to take the consent of employees before monitoring them. The privacy laws of remote worker locales should also be considered.

Employee monitoring software. The goal of employee monitoring is to increase productivity, comply with legal obligations, and to provide security. Some employee monitoring software is specifically designed to help employees by offering wellbeing features such as reminders to take breaks and dashboards reporting on team wellbeing. Employee monitoring software should be used as an analytics tool that respects employee privacy and is mutually beneficial, rather than a punitive instrument that employees may grow to resent.