Home Business Insights & Advice What are the ethics of employee privacy and workplace monitoring

What are the ethics of employee privacy and workplace monitoring

by John Saunders
12th Nov 19 1:39 pm

Although it is widely accepted that employees will be monitored in the workplace to some degree or other, the ethics surrounding it can get a bit murky. It is a conflict between the two out of the three spheres of ethics, where the micro ethic values liberty and freedom, while employee monitoring falls under the meso ethic.

On one hand from the perspective of your organization you may want to use employee monitoring as a tool to improve productivity and boost security. However at what point does that monitoring turn into an invasion of privacy, and infringe on your employees’ personal space?

Ethical considerations

Before you implement employee monitoring of any kind, it is important that you take into account the ethical considerations. In particular you should ask yourself:

  • Are your employees aware that they are being monitored?
  • What is the goal (or goals) that you want to achieve by monitoring your employees?
  • Is all the data that you are tracking vital to fulfilling that goal?
  • Could any of the data that you collect be considered private information?

See how each of those questions deals with the ethical impact of monitoring employees? To put it simply your employees must be aware that they are being monitored, and the data that you track should be vital to fulfill a specific goal such as improving productivity.

It is easy to see why monitoring your employees without their knowledge would be an ethical violation. Similarly if you were to monitor every keystroke and action that employees take then you could end up crossing a line especially if you start to read private emails, capture banking information, and so on.

In addition to these ethical considerations you should also take into account the legal implications. Any monitoring activities that you carry out should comply with the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) or similar legislation in your jurisdiction.

How WorkExaminer nan monitor employees ethically

To look at a practical case it would be easiest to see how WorkExaminer can be used to monitor employees while taking into account ethics. As a software it can fulfill a number of different roles and act to monitor employee activity and actions, track the time that employees spend working, improve data security, or monitor the progress of projects.

The main question that you need to answer first is what goal you want to achieve using WorkExaminer. Do you want to improve employee productivity? Reduce time wastage? Prevent data leaks? Address workplace harassment? Or something else entirely?

Once you’ve identified your goals, you can come up with a policy regarding monitoring and circulate it among your employees. It should cover the reason WorkExaminer is being used, as well as the exact manner in which you plan to use it.

Make no mistake, the features in WorkExaminer can monitor and track employee activity in numerous ways. It is able to capture screenshots, monitor keystrokes, identify what users are working on, save emails, filter websites, and even look in on instant messaging apps.

Ideally you should be able to justify why it is important that WorkExaminer is used in each of the ways that you decide to use it. For instance if you want to filter certain websites you should explain how it avoids distractions and increases productivity.

All in all you should be able to see how you can ethically monitor employees using WorkExaminer as long as you’re careful and don’t cross any lines. In the long run adopting an ethical approach is definitely a good idea, and it will ensure that the morale of your employees isn’t affected.

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