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As technology advances, employers worldwide are faced with the problem of employee's ill usage of the communication media. In order to reduce these risks, employers are now turning towards technology monitoring, which would enable them to keep a strict watch over their employees. A lot of issues have risen, as a result of workplace monitoring and the debate whether this act of the employers is ethically correct or not is on the rise. According to Charles Frayer, "The single greatest invasion of any sensible space of privacy that cyberspace has produced is the extraordinary monitoring of employees in which corporations now engage" (Charles Frayer, Employee Privacy And Internet Monitoring: Balancing Workers' Rights And Dignity With Legitimate Management Interests).
Workplace monitoring is not wrong. It might even help and benefit an employer and his employees. For this to be true, it is essential that a creditable relationship exist between both the employee and the employer. Both the parties must have mutual understanding between them and keep the line of colloquy open. The employer will naturally have a final say in the end after listening to all the issues of his employees. As a result a likely solution will turn up and a better working environment would be attainable.
In order to invade an employee's privacy, it is essential that that employee have the right to his privacy. "Generally speaking, the right of privacy has been based upon a reasonable expectation of that right by the one seeking its protection. It would be absurd to assert that an employer may never monitor an employee's online activities" (Charles Frayer, Employee Privacy And Internet Monitoring: Balancing Workers' Rights And Dignity With Legitimate Management Interests). Consider a case in which an employee is trading company's secrets through the Internet. An employer than has every right to take an appropriate action against that employee and in order to ensure that this does not happen in the future, he might monitor all the communication media provided in the organization.
Monitoring the productivity of employees by employers is not an inherently bad action. The intentions of the employers are merely to make sure that work progresses so that a business can be run profitably. If the work is not being done on time or in an efficient manner, the business could crumble and employees could be laid off. It could be said that monitoring the work done by a worker is a way of guaranteeing that worker's job will still exist in the future. The employer is then looking out for the good of the company as well as the employee (Donna Beck, To What Extent Should
Employers Electronically Monitor Employees?).
Hence, monitoring only ensures that all the employees working in an organization are doing their work right. It also makes sure that a company business thrives.
Before a person is asked to join an organization, it is essential that he may be presented with the company's policy statement. This statement would outline all the guidelines that an employee is suppose to follow.
A policy statement defines the purpose of the business at hand, the standards, and the inferences to be drawn from the data. Employees should know how much data will be monitored and collected if they are to reserve their right to freedom. The statement should state what is really needed to know, as opposed to what they might like to know. Confidentiality of information has to be addressed in this policy (Donna Beck,
To What Extent Should Employers Electronically Monitor Employees?).
After a survey conducted by the American Management Association, it was found that more than two thirds of all the U.S. organizations are involved in workplace surveillance. As monitoring technology enhances, the prospects of workplace monitoring are sure to increase. According to Eileen Kelly, "The exact nature and extent of employee activities monitored by employers vary widely. Among other areas, monitoring can encompass e-mail, voice mail, telephone conversations, Internet usage, computer files, location tracking, and video surveillance" (Eileen Kelly, Electronic Monitoring Of Employees In The Workplace).
Present Company policies pertaining to workplace monitoring encompass an extensive spectrum. There are certain employers who do not monitor their employees, whereas there are also those that do, depending upon their legitimate business need.
To provide guidance to employees and reduce the risk of a successful lawsuit, companies that do monitor are turning more and more to written employee-monitoring policies. A written policy, coupled with consistent enforcement, can help a company demonstrate good-faith efforts to prevent hostile-environment sexual harassment.
With a written policy, employees are put on notice about being monitored, what activity is being monitored, what is considered inappropriate usage of company assets, and what disciplinary actions can be taken for infractions of the policy (Eileen Kelly,
Electronic Monitoring Of Employees In The Workplace).
Employers who are interested in monitoring their employees have access to a wide number of softwares that captures every keystroke, error and every moment spent typing by data entry clerks. As the electronic media become more diverse in a neoteric workplace with the usage of email, the Internet, telecommuting and corporate Intranets, employers are widely inspecting employee use of these business assets.
For example, technology is now available for employers to randomly capture screen shots of employees' computer screens to ascertain appropriate usage of business equipment. Clearly, inappropriate usage of electronic assets hampers the productivity and efficiency of a business. According to a survey by SexTracker, 70% of all traffic on porn web sites occurs between 9:00 A.M. And 5:00 P.M. Other online web sites, such as retailers, brokerages, and auctions, show similar peak traffic patterns during working hours (Eileen Kelly, Electronic Monitoring Of Employees In The Workplace).
Certain surveys have proved that employers check employee's email and web usage to eliminate conceivable legal arrearage for workplace sexual harassment claims. Courts have legally allowed employers to monitor their employees. Hence, monitoring has now basically become another prime condition of employment. Currently, employees have little legal chance to avert workplace monitoring.
Courts have consistently held that employees have very limited expectations of privacy in the workplace. Most invasion-of-privacy actions brought by employees therefore fail. Conceivably, an employee might succeed in an invasion-of-privacy suit for highly offensive, unreasonable, or unwarranted invasion of the right to privacy
Eileen Kelly, Electronic Monitoring Of Employees In The Workplace).
Safe workplace environments are rapidly becoming an industry standard. This could only be made possible by legally imposing rules and regulations in a workplace environment. Workplace monitoring systems have played an extensive role in giving its employees an ideal workplace environment.
Companies considering whether to screen employee e-mails should first analyze their purposes in conducting the surveillance. For many employers, the primary issue is security, both protecting the safety of employees and customers, and ensuring that confidential information is not transmitted to unauthorized third parties (Shawn Smith,
Rethinking E-mail Monitoring In Todays Workplace).
Workplace monitoring can be divided into various categories. The first category is concerned with Call monitoring. Call monitoring basically involves listening to live phone calls and recording one's observations. "The most important aspect of this system is the observer. The observer can sit next to the person making the call, which can be helpful with new employees who need training tips. The observer can also be a secret caller and judge the phone representative by playing a customer role" (Kristin Morgan, Types Of Employee-Monitoring Systems In The Workplace). As a result of call monitoring, an employee would be well aware of the surveillance and would always try his/her best not to violate the company's policies.
The second category deals with video surveillance. Video monitoring involves the viewing of employees via a video camera. "Video surveillance is used by employers for detecting employee misconduct particularly theft, monitoring job performance and efficiency, and assuring conformance with safety…[continue]
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