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Common Types of Employee Monitoring: Balancing Workplace Surveillance and Privacy

Disha Mainkar

June 15, 2023

Common Types of Employee Monitoring: Balancing Workplace Surveillance and Privacy

In today's digital age, employee monitoring has become increasingly prevalent as organizations strive to enhance productivity, ensure data security, and mitigate potential risks. The practice of employee monitoring involves utilizing various means of surveillance to collect data about employee performance, location, computer use, and more. If you find yourself concerned about excessive time wastage or suspect the sharing of business secrets with outsiders, considering an employee monitoring software or another form of surveillance could be beneficial.

Employee monitoring and surveillance have been part of workplace practices for a considerable time. However, with the advancement of technology and changes in society, monitoring methods have evolved and there are also non-intrusive methods available that can help you ensure your workers are productive and efficient.

An American Management Association study found that the percentage of major companies monitoring employees rose from 35% in 1997 to 78% in 2001.

Employee monitoring is very common in 2023. For example, 67.6% of North American employers with 500+ employees use employee monitoring software, and up to 94% of companies will monitor employee emails.

It is also common for remote workers, as since the start of the pandemic, now 60% of employers also find ways to monitor their employees who work from home.

In this blog, we will explore several means of employee tracking, providing a detailed explanation of each method. Our aim is to offer a comprehensive understanding of the benefits and potential concerns associated with these practices, enabling you to make informed decisions about implementing employee monitoring in your organization.

Keycards:

Keycard systems are widely used to monitor employee access to different areas within the workplace. By issuing personalized keycards, organizations can track and record when employees enter or exit specific zones. This method enhances security by limiting unauthorized access and ensuring that only authorized personnel have entry to sensitive areas. Keycards also provide valuable data for attendance tracking and resource allocation.

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Video Surveillance:

Video surveillance involves the use of cameras to monitor employee activities within the workplace. Strategically placed cameras capture real-time footage, enabling organizations to enhance security, prevent theft, and ensure employee safety. Video surveillance can deter misconduct, support incident investigations, and monitor adherence to safety protocols. However, concerns about privacy and employee discomfort may arise, necessitating clear communication and appropriate placement of cameras.

Network Monitoring:

Network monitoring involves tracking employees' activities on the organization's computer network. It allows organizations to monitor internet usage, detect potential security breaches, and optimize network performance. By analyzing network traffic, organizations can identify unauthorized software installations, prevent data leaks, and ensure compliance with usage policies. Network monitoring also plays a crucial role in managing bandwidth allocation and optimizing network resources.

Email Monitoring:

Email monitoring involves tracking employees' email communications, both incoming and outgoing. Organizations may implement email monitoring to prevent data leaks, ensure compliance with regulations, and protect sensitive information. By monitoring email content, attachments, and recipients, organizations can identify potential security threats, prevent inappropriate communication, and address compliance issues. However, it is important to strike a balance between security needs and employee privacy concerns.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Solutions:

DLP solutions are designed to prevent the unauthorized transmission of sensitive or confidential data outside the organization's network. These solutions monitor and control data transfers, whether through email, USB drives, or cloud storage services. DLP solutions can help protect intellectual property, maintain regulatory compliance, and prevent data breaches. However, their implementation requires careful consideration to avoid excessive restrictions that may hinder productivity or infringe upon employee privacy.

Employee Monitoring Software:

Employee monitoring software provides organizations with comprehensive insights into employees' computer activities. It can track application usage, website browsing, time spent on different tasks, and even capture screenshots or keystrokes. Employee monitoring software can assist in identifying productivity bottlenecks, optimizing workflows, and providing data-driven feedback. However, it is crucial to establish clear policies and transparent communication to address employee concerns and ensure that the software is used responsibly.

GPS Tracking:

GPS tracking involves monitoring employees' locations and movements using GPS-enabled devices such as smartphones or vehicle trackers. It is commonly employed in transportation, delivery services, and fieldwork. GPS tracking allows organizations to optimize routes, ensure timely delivery, and enhance operational efficiency. However, employee privacy concerns may arise, particularly when monitoring extends beyond working hours. Clear guidelines and consent are essential for the successful implementation of GPS tracking.

Internet Monitoring:

Application monitoring involves tracking employees' use of software applications during working hours. This method provides insights into which applications employees are utilizing and how much time they spend on each. It can help organizations identify productivity gaps, optimize software usage, and ensure compliance with software licensing agreements. Application monitoring can enhance efficiency and streamline workflows. However, organizations should establish clear guidelines to address privacy concerns and ensure that monitoring focuses on work-related applications only.

Social Media Tracking:

Social media tracking involves monitoring employees' activities on social networking platforms during work hours. Organizations may implement this method to prevent excessive personal use of social media, minimize distractions, and maintain productivity levels. By monitoring social media interactions, organizations can identify potential reputation risks, security threats, or violations of company policies. However, organizations should be cautious about privacy concerns and ensure that monitoring is reasonable and respectful of employees' personal time.

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Project Management Apps:

Project management apps are widely used to track employee tasks, project progress, and collaboration. These apps provide transparency and accountability by documenting project timelines, assigning responsibilities, and monitoring milestones. Project management apps enable organizations to monitor productivity, identify project bottlenecks, and allocate resources efficiently. However, organizations should strike a balance between monitoring progress and allowing employees the autonomy to manage their workload effectively.

Navigating Employee Monitoring:

The topic of employers monitoring employees has raised important discussions around workplace surveillance. In this blog, we delve into the common types of employee monitoring, including workplace monitoring and surveillance. We examine the legal, ethical, and employee-centric considerations surrounding employee surveillance, empowering organisations to navigate this complex landscape while fostering a culture of trust, productivity, and respect in the workplace.

Bottom Line

Employee monitoring methods have become prevalent in organizations, driven by the need for productivity, security, and compliance. Each method serves specific purposes and offers benefits, but they also raise concerns about privacy, trust, and employee morale. As only 30% of employees are comfortable with the idea of being monitored.

To strike a balance, organizations should establish clear policies that define the scope and limitations of monitoring, communicate openly with employees about the purpose and use of monitoring methods, and ensure that monitoring practices align with legal and ethical standards. By implementing employee monitoring in a transparent and responsible manner, organizations can leverage these methods to enhance productivity, security, and overall efficiency while fostering a positive work environment that respects employees' rights and privacy.

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To know more about We360.ai workforce analytics software, click here.  

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