The Technology and The Problems of Employee Monitoring

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There are hundreds of software and hardware solutions available on the market to monitor a vast array of activities. The price of user activity monitoring software ranges from several thousand dollars down to free.

Most solutions can log keystrokes typed, application and website usage, detailed file usage, incoming and outgoing chats and e-mails, internet connections, windows interacted with, internet packet data, desktop screenshots, software installations, and much more.

The software can present all activities logged in easy-to-read graphical reports. Employers can set specific alerts to notify management when an employee performs a certain action or is perhaps not meeting productivity goals. Keystroke monitoring is perhaps one of the most invasive types of monitoring.

There are programs that generate reports detailing every key pressed on a keyboard. The companies that make the appliances to monitor employees cite uses for their products to stop leaking sensitive information, stop breaking laws, stop violating company policies, limit legal liability, and to monitor and recover lost crucial communications to name a few.

Companies can implement easily and stealthily the advance monitoring systems allowing the employer to monitor workers without their knowledge. The corporation may install hardware devices at the firewall that will track all electronic transactions or can remotely install software made invisible to the computer user.

The technology to monitor an employee’s activities is extremely sophisticated and fully capable of exposing any action taken on a business computer. The practice of employee monitoring is in practice by large and small businesses throughout the world. It is also very important to note that employers are monitoring more than just computer usage, many also employ telephone and video monitoring.



According to California state law on California Public Utilities Commission, organizations monitoring phone calls are required to inform participants of the recording or monitoring of the conversation by either putting a beep tone on the line or playing a recorded message (1983, General Order 107-B).

Many companies also observe employees using video surveillance equipment. Over the last couple of decades, devices that they are completely oblivious to are recording an increasing number of events in every citizen’s daily lives. There is an all-out assault of tools including hardware, software, telephone systems, and video recordings that organizations are using to protect themselves and work to increase productivity.

The Problem Of Employee Monitoring

Employers can create complex problems when they monitor employees. Should employers be able to monitor their employers? If so, what should they be restricted to monitoring, and do the employees have the right to know that employers are monitoring them. Each of these questions creates a multifaceted response from both the employer’s side, as well as the viewpoint of the employee.

As Frayer notes, increased employee use of the Internet created opportunities for several companies to produce sophisticated monitoring software, which enables employers to peer into literally everything employees do online. According to Frayer, organization created employee monitoring because there was a substantial need for organizations to monitor their workforce. If a business owner does nothing to stop these counter-productive activities, then it is not likely the owner could stay in business.

Workplace monitoring can be beneficial for an organization to obtain productivity and efficiency from its employees. The enormity of potential productivity loses, as reported by Court (2004), is approximately one million dollars annually for a company with 500 employees surfing the Internet for just a half hour a day. Using these facts, if an employee spends two hours per day on the Internet, and the organization has 500 unmonitored employees, the potential annual loss could be nearly $4 million.

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