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Modern business dynamics has become complex such that organisation require multiple information systems to support their business processes. However, these systems may become difficult to manage if they are not integrated and create obstacles in efficient productivity. Workplace monitoring is one of the controversial issue involving around surveillance in workplace. In employee monitoring the information gathered by examine employee is used in many ways; by monitoring an employee his behaviour at workplace can be concluded. However, implementation of electronic monitoring is not without the knowledge of its employee. Proper evaluation of an electronic monitoring is required to be conducted by organisation before adopting it. Change in organisational mindset is required since workplace monitoring would require complex operations to be performed which would impact on organisation reputation and productivity. The result will look into different aspects that a typical organisation would face if an employee file a case against organisation for a false decision taken on employee. Workplace monitoring are of many types some include as CCTV monitors, E-mail checking, location tracking and blocking restricted sites (social networking). Generally in employee monitoring controversies occur mainly in three states.
Firstly, when employee monitoring goes beyond what is necessary. Secondly, when employer demands the executives how the employee spends their exact time at workplace. Third, monitoring of employee compromises the negative effects, working level, trust and level of control. Some employees can support some of the aspects of monitoring and some may oppose it as it may interfere their personal aspects. However, everyone has right for some privacy at workplace; law has set some limits in monitoring employee. As by law where employers intend to monitor their staff they should consult the staff and inform about the monitoring techniques they planning to introduce. They should also be clear that these arrangements are necessary for their development or productivity.
2.0 Employee monitoring and types of Monitoring
3.1 Employee monitoring
What is Employee monitoring? Is monitoring necessary at workplace? Employee monitoring as the name suggest it is a tool for monitoring its employee at workplace behaviour, productivity and performance. Employers argue that they have lack of awareness about the character of employee or performance of individual, it is important for organisation to know about their employee. Organisation spend huge amount of expenditure on employee salary and also they have to achieve company’s goals. Employers say that this practice helps them to focus on measuring employee performance or their characteristics. The employers want to ensure that the workers are genuine and they perform according to the expectation of the organisation. Performance monitoring and behaviours are part of production process which takes place in real time. Workplace monitoring can be developed in three directions first, as a personal data of employee is monitored and used, the employees unique physical and other trails are detected and covert surveillance. The reasons why employers monitor their employee are, the organisation or employers are keen in maintaining their productivity, organisation who wants to protect their trade secret. The result of workplace monitoring can lead to evidence in taking legal actions.
But, excessive monitoring can restrict the employee’s privacy; employee has to compromise if he/she doesn’t want to enclose his personal information, as monitoring is done by third party. One of the main reason behind the employee monitoring is that monitoring sends a strong notice or message to workers about the kind of behaviour or work the employer or organisation expects from them. In banks employers monitor their employee in quantitative output as well as in terms of qualitative manner on how the employee is dealing with customers. Employers argue that monitoring will not restrict privacy of employee, but it is designed that they have small space of privacy. An organisation historically have right to improve the performance of their employee, as the performance aspect of employee is being at right place and at the right time.
For example an organisation has export business it has a right to location monitor weather the goods are delivered at exact location and adjust route map. By monitoring the employee at workplace employer’s build-up a trust level on certain employee by recognising their work and dedication. Employers concern that employee use valuable tome spending for personal activities, some argue that they doesn’t want employee to misuse their authorities. For example Steven Heer was fired from a Santander bank who caught red-handed on CCTV for stealing 5000 pounds ( www.dailymail.co.uk). It is important for employers to include a note in e-mail policy stating that the company might perform monitoring but it is not commanded by law.
3.2 Types of Monitoring
Employee monitoring has various types like video surveillance, e-mail checking, and location tracking etc. Monitoring through surveillance camera is most common type of monitoring. Employers state that they can capture every movement of employee through CCTV and their appropriate communication with fellow employees or customers. Video monitoring can be used against the safety of employee and customers. A bank may use video monitoring to collect evidence on robbery, a company use monitoring at parking place as security measure for employees. For example Jay-ar quilator a casino employee was caught by authorities stealing a plaque on cam (abs-cbn news).
Employers also concern that the organisations trade secret and confidential information can purposely or unintentionally disclosed to third party or to competitors. E-mail monitoring can avoid such process. Generally when e-mail messages which contains offensive words sent by co-workers creates an hostile environment.
There are many questions arises weather an employers can monitor ac employees phone when an employee is working from home. According to current law, employers can monitor or tap calls of employee. Another type of monitoring is computer monitoring. If an employee is working under a computer, the employers can use software through which they can see what is on screen or what is stored in hard disk of employee’s computer. They can also be monitored on internet usage. The employers can also track the amount of time the employee is spending away from computer, all this monitoring can be done without the knowledge of employee.
If an organisation provides a smart phone to their employees it has right to track or monitor the smartphone like data usage, location, calls and photos. Some organisations also block use of social networking sites, legal action is taken against an employee if he/she post on social networking sites which is against company’s policies, it depends on how intense the message is and regardless on a personal post. Some employers use Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) to track the location of employee who is working at remote location. Location monitoring can also be done on individual to know that employee has taken correct route in delivering goods, break time and is employee indulging his private work in between his official working hours. The biometric surveillance which indicates the employee unique physical trails are detected like retina scans, alcohol testing and electronic finger prints. It is used to gain control and performance of company.
3.Risk involved in Workplace Monitoring
Most of employees feel that there is no certain rule or specific right to monitor their work. Some employers have lack of awareness in monitoring employees. An organisation monitors the e-mail of employee in covert surveillance. It may lead to many controversies, because e-mail communication may have private conversation and also personal and confidential information like credit card number. Although some organisation provide general information to staff about surveillance but some organisation avoid in doing. In Australia employers are required to get permission from judiciary to conduct surveillance on employees. Some argue that the poor management who failed in implementing monitoring system may damage the trust relation between employee and employers. Sometime excessive monitoring may lead to the worst case as it been to designed. If an employee is monitored as a part of group rather than an individual, it may be less stressful for employees.
Generally employees presuppose to have at least expectations of their privacy, when a third party or an employer monitors them, employee naturally loses his space for privacy and wonders to what extent they have legal right of privacy. Some employees state that they cannot concentrate on work when they are continuously been monitored, they feel loosing privacy and they cannot be free with fellow workers. There are certain laws in which a legal action is taken on employer who privileges the employee by discriminating individual race, colour, religion etc. The organisation has no rights to search the employee house without a legal permission by law. Employees working from home feel monitoring phones are like limiting their privacy because every call to his phone may not be work related. The organisation should make agreement to monitor only work related calls. According to law organisation are not recommended to video monitor without knowledge of employees and place hidden cameras at lockers or bathrooms.
In most organisation balance in employee monitoring is necessary, it should be used to encourage employees to work like professionals. The employers should use monitoring as a tool which helps in safety of employees rather to ensure them how to behave. Employers should invest some time to develop trust in employees. In organisations where misbehave is an issue, monitoring results as the best solution at workplace. Employee should understand that monitoring is for employee benefit regarding safety and improve performance at workplace. The employers should consider the way of monitoring an employee, the difference in way of concern and involving employee privacy may damage the workplace atmosphere.
The usefulness of workplace monitoring system cannot be argued since any organisation can take advantage of integrated approach and features provide to better performance in business process. However, employee monitoring is not conducted without the knowledge of employee. Employees should be informed for organisation terms and policies in monitoring. The organisation in case study would attempt to install workplace monitoring in order to align its business application to that of its strategy. The organisation should not be harsh on decision; it should also consider ethical issues and organisation reputation with open mind. It should be clearly mentioned that if an employee is working from home he should be informed that his phone or computer nay be monitored. If an employee is accused for stealing there should be no physical search unless certain evidence is proven against employee. Most of employees feel that there is no certain rule or specific right to monitor their work. The employer or third party monitoring should be trained to take open decision in solving them without closed mind or considering single point of view.
The results of monitoring should be justified by taking feedback of others. If an organisation informs the staff about monitoring, the employee should need to communicate to know the monitoring criteria clearly, or the supervisor should take in charge of this and ensure the fellow workers are well trained and they have given a fair chance in achieving their targets. If the workers have prior level of trust in their superiors or employers then the monitoring is less stressful then actual. If an employee is creating a hostile working environment to certain individual or sending threatening mails, it can be detected by surveillance. The message is still stored in memory even after they have been deleted. Even if a mail is sent by making an option as “private” message more often this message are not completely secure, employers can retain this message. Employees use encryption to protect privacy of their mail and it can be read only by the recipient; even this message can be decoded by employers by certain software. The organisation can take legal action against those e-mails. The most important point in monitoring is that there is no single law which clearly states ones right of privacy.