Employee monitoring is a hot topic among employers with a workforce that includes remote workers and freelancers. ABC News reported in 2017 that 78% of major U.S. companies monitored employees’ use of e-mail, Internet or telephone. Given the right context, employee monitoring technology yields improved worker productivity. On the other hand, there can be serious repercussions if the workers reject it due to privacy concerns. This post explains the pros and cons of employee monitoring, and gives you some insights on how to decide whether the technology is right for your business.
Employee monitoring software has become commonplace. Many apps take monitor screenshots, capture keystrokes and mouse movements, monitor active applications and visited sites and, in extreme cases, can even take pictures using webcam (see How to detect Employee Monitoring). It seems to be fair to track what your employees do when they are being paid for their time. After all, if they exchange their time for money, it seems fair for the employer to know what they are paying for. So, why does it still feel morally inappropriate in some cases? The question is far from being just theoretical. If a wrong decision is made, a company may suffer from lawsuits, experience a backlash and overall productivity drop (opposite from what was intended) from their employees or suffer damage to the company’s image. Let’s review in more detail what employee monitoring practices can be considered valid and what should be avoided.