“Attention: This Area is Under Constant CCTV Surveillance & You are Being Watched”
How many times have you come across this warning or have witnessed a CCTV hovering over your head? With CCTV cameras everywhere, how likely is it that your employer/client is keeping an eye on you? Basically, 99% of the time.
But the question is ‘What is the need for employee snooping’?
There are numerous reasons forcing employers to snoop their staff, including:
- To access and improve productivity
- To ensure quality of their customer service
- To retain and reward their best performers
- To avoid misuse of freedom, power and authority
- To safeguard their workforce – health & safety reasons
- To ensure that the company policies are not being broken
- To comply with legal and regulatory obligation throughout the firm
- To prevent issues such as women harassment and bullying at workplace
- To protect business interest – prevent crime, theft or misconduct, business secrets/property
As commonly believed, workplace surveillance is not 100% invasion of privacy. But, it is to monitor the quality of staff and ongoing work. Employers also use office surveillance to recognize their top talent and sustain them for a longer duration.
Employee Retention via Workplace Surveillance – How Is It Done?
Office surveillance helps employers understand employee behavior and ongoing workplace equations. It also helps them track individual work and monitor ongoing performance; thus enabling them to revise work policies to increase employee engagement and productivity. Monitoring internet usage, job board & social media activities and official data usage empower management to understand workforce requirements and hence, help them re-frame retention, sourcing and engagement policies.
Legalized in most part of the world, employers are allowed to snoop their employees via certain ethical methods, such as:
Fingerprint tools are used to keep a track of employee work hours. This could be done by installing a fingerprint gadget that tracks office attendance or a punching machine that requires an employee to punch a card whenever they enter or exit office premises; hence, tracking overall working hours.
CCTV cameras are installed to monitor physical activity of an employee. It tracks their behavior, physical misconduct, abuse or any other physical function that cannot be performed in a workplace.
Companies are authorized to monitor any hardware issued by the firm to their employees. Monitoring office computers and laptops provide employers a great deal of information related to work hours, data usage and data privacy. Most of the time firms use a keylogger software to monitor work hours and data usage of their staff. These tools help them keep website records and password details used by an employee.
As stated above, companies are entitled to monitor official hardware data usage. Official phones could be recorded for security purposes. These data are then monitored to improve the quality of work (customer service). These recordings also help employers understand the appropriate or inappropriate usage of the hardware by the staff.
Employers cannot monitor personal phones of their staff. However, if you are spending your work hours conversing loudly about your weekend trips, you could be disciplined for not working. Employers cannot track your personal calls, but could certainly keep a close watch at the inappropriate use of office hours.
Emails & Chats
Again, employers have the authority to track your official emails and chats. But they are not entitled to monitor any personal account. However, if you are using a personal account over office hardware for business misconduct, you could be punished.
Social Media Channels
Employer tracks social media account of their employees from day one. Social media channel helps them understand candidate behavior, interest and inclination towards their company culture. It helps them comprehend whether the candidate is a good fit or not.
Tracking job board activity enables businesses to understand their retention strategies and helps in sustaining them. It also allows them to find what their employees are looking for and hence, enable them to improve ongoing employee engagement and retention policies of the firm.
World Wide Web
If you wish to find something, Google it. Today, World Wide Web is confined to the world’s largest search engine – Google. Every individual using internet shares their information with Google and employers use this data to track personal plus professional information of their employees.
A Word of Caution
However, if not done rightly, employee snooping could lead to distrust issues within the workforce; causing high turnover rates and workplace stress. To avoid such situation, management needs to communicate such plans to their staff beforehand. The goal of workplace surveillance should be to improve business productivity rather than employee punishment.