Is it ethical for companies to monitor employees? It’s a question that many people are asking themselves these days, and there are likely to be differing opinions on the subject.

Some believe that companies should not monitor their employees as they do not have the right to invade privacy. In contrast, others argue that monitoring can effectively prevent company secrets from being leaked or stolen.

As per Gartner, 16% of employers use employee scheduling software to monitor their employees’ activity.

Moreover, monitoring solutions are an excellent way for companies to improve their productivity, but there are still some concerns. We will find out all those legal and illegal nuisances of employees monitoring in this blog.

So let’s Get Started.

Ethical and Unethical Concerns For Employee Monitoring

1. Monitoring employees in secret

monitoring employees in secret

In the past, employee monitoring was a practical way to ensure that information didn’t leak from inside a company. In most cases today, employers who monitor employees without their knowledge or consent can get into significant trouble.

  • With high-tech surveillance and hacking, it may not be as easy to monitor employees without their knowledge in today’s modern world.
  • Many people argue that companies already have too much access to the personal data of their customers and clients.
  • Employees feel betrayed by employers they trust with all aspects of life, only to learn later how they are monitored.
  • It can even ultimately lead to the breakdown of a company as it causes staff morale and productivity levels to drop.

The most excellent way to avoid this is by always having your employees aware of employee scheduling software. If possible, create a policy including consent forms that will explain in detail what you monitor and where it’s stored (i.e., company servers).


Also read: How Can Regular Monitoring in Remote Work Bring Impeccable Changes?


2. Monitoring employees outside of working hours

The after-hours monitoring of employees is a massive problem in the work-from-home environment. Plus, it’s not uncommon for employees to use their laptops when on break or at the end of shift, and if you’re using employee monitoring software during these hours, you can get yourself into trouble.

The most excellent way to avoid this is to either allow employees to turn off their trackers while they’re on a break and at home or prohibit the usage of company-owned laptops for personal use.

3. Collecting personal data through monitoring software

With employee scheduling software, you can take screenshots of your employees’ computers and record their keystrokes. You might not want to do this because it means collecting personal data about when they’re browsing social media or banking sites which could be considered inappropriate.

The most excellent way to avoid this is by capturing limited screenshots by using software that will allow only work-related applications &  websites. Also, it goes the same for all other intrusive features, so you can use such productivity software to keep an eye on employee work-related activity.

4. Collecting data but not for business improvement.

The ethical use of employee monitoring software is a lot more than simply the ways you collect data from employees. It also involves how they’re being used. Like, If you are using it for business improvement, then it’s okay. But if you are using it like other things(spying on your employees), you are wasting your time.

So, don’t just monitor your employees, have a plan for what you want to get out of it. Figure out why you are observing them in the first place and set up some goals with data collection.

For instance, if you are using productivity software, make sure that you track the daily time they spend for work and then utilize that data to increase employee productivity.

Major Ethical Consequences of Employee Monitoring

Breach of Privacy and Personal Data

Breach of Privacy and Personal Data

Monitoring employees without their consent is an invasion of privacy. Not only is it against company policy, but some people feel that monitoring employees’ personal lives mean you’re not respecting them as individuals.

Even if they violate your policies (like lying about sick days), using technology to monitor what they do outside of work may be crossing a line. Some companies choose to draw a line between life and work, while others expect workers to separate life from work.

So, when in doubt, get permission first. This way, everyone’s clear and respectful of each other’s boundaries and rules. It also ensures no one feels like they’ve been spied on or treated unfairly or disrespectfully at work—which can build morale and improve productivity at little cost.

Reduces Employee Morale and Trust

It can be intimidating for employees when they know their actions are being monitored, mainly if there isn’t transparency in collecting or using data.

According to Cisco, monitoring can make employees feel like they aren’t trusted.

This loss of trust can result in an inability of an employee to perform at optimal levels, hurting their productivity and potentially your bottom line.

Moreover, if workers don’t trust that your organization will protect them against unfair treatment, why would they bother working hard on your behalf?

Most importantly, maintaining open communication with employees about what kind of surveillance you’re conducting—and why—is vital for keeping morale high.

So, if you have a transparent process in place for gathering feedback from workers about whether these programs are helpful or not, then chances are good that it won’t undermine trust.


Also read: Employee Monitoring Tools: A Threat to Privacy or Productivity Booster?


Tips to Maintain Employee Monitoring Ethics

Create a Standard Employee Monitoring Policy

The initial step to ethical employee monitoring is creating a detailed policy with your company’s help. Here are some things you should include:

=>  Reasons why you will be tracking employees; what tools/solutions can you use?

=> What will you monitor; emails and private messages, workscreens (for example, their computer screen), social media account updates, or browsing history.

=>  Type of monitor you will use audio, video, or digital monitoring.

=> Show the number of hours you will monitor, like whether it be working hours or after that.

Adhere to Country and State Laws

Adhere to Country and State Laws

While creating an employee monitoring policy, you must follow the national and state labor and privacy laws to avoid extensive unethical issues. For instance, an employer can monitor their employees’ company devices in the US, but checking their emails is a big NO.

Help Employees Understand the Need for Monitoring

Before you can monitor their actions, employees must understand your expectations and why they’re essential. Explain what you’re monitoring and why, be clear about how it will help them do their jobs better,  and invite input from everyone on what data is most valuable.

Doing so will make compliance with company policies less like a burden and more like a value-added feature of work life.

Use a Secure Employee Monitoring and Productivity Tool

Using efficient monitoring tools like employee scheduling software can give organizations actionable information they otherwise might not have had. For example, companies that closely monitor their employees’ work hours and productivity can be aware of discrepancies in hours worked.

Similarly, if an employee uses social media during work hours, an organization can use an employee monitoring tool to be aware of their online behavior. Thus, using tools in such a way will not violate any ethical laws and instead boost employees’ productivity.

Final Take

So it was all about whether it’s ethical to monitor employees or not. By following the steps to maintain this type of monitoring, you’ll be able to reap all the rewards that come with it.

For instance, by using an efficient tool like employee scheduling software or social media monitoring tools that don’t violate any laws and boost productivity, your organization can see improvements in morale and trust among employees at little cost.

So, which step has been most valuable for you? Let us know, plus what other needs we should address related to your query.

I hope you have found the blog exciting and insightful.

Thank you for Reading!

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