Employee Monitoring Ethical Issues

Employee Monitoring Ethical Issues

Technology has made it easy for companies to monitor their employees to optimize their work performance. By implementing various ways to keep track of their employees’ activities, such surveillance can ensure that said employees are completing their work to the highest standards. Yet, this raises one fundamental question: When can this go too far? And what are the underlined ethical issues of such conduct towards employees? Companies can cross the line and take it too far, creating ethical issues for employee monitoring. 

What Is Employee Monitoring?  

Employee monitoring is when a company tracks an employee’s activity to ensure they are meeting their Key Performance Indicators (KPI). This can be done by monitoring their internet traffic to see if they’re accessing websites not related to their job. Companies sometimes even implement a GPS on some devices to track the locations of the employees. It can go as far as app surveillance as well. Organizations will see what apps their employees are using. Employee monitoring is implemented in hopes of promoting efficiency and productivity, but it can often raise moral dilemmas as to which extend companies can indulge in such conduct, and to what extend before rising concerns about employee monitoring ethical issues. 

When Is Employee Monitoring Going Too Far? 

As we said before, employee monitoring should be used to drive the workforce forward. Companies can do it by monitoring a more efficient workspace, but sometimes it goes too far. 

Such monitorning activities can take different forms and can lead to high levels of privacy breaches from the company towards it employees.  

  • Collecting personal data  

Various software companies use to monitor employees is equipped with a screenshot feature. This usually is added in the hopes of asking for proof of work from your employees. Sometimes some software even has a screen recording feature which poses even more moralized questions when considering employee monitoring ethics. Occasionally, an employee would be browsing something personal, yet you can still take a screenshot or record a video that directly breaches their privacy. 

  • Not being transparent with your employees 

Additionally, Monitoring practices can offer a perfect way to try to catch a slacking employee or a deceiving one while doing their ‘Crime.’ Some companies, hoping to outsmart the employees, won’t share that they are being monitored. This is considered one of the primary employee monitoring ethical issues. The tricky aspect of it not being transparent with your employees isn’t only deceptive but simply wrong. It can also lead to legal actions and consequences, so don’t lose your moral and legal high ground to outsmart your employees. 


  • Monitoring employees after working hours 

When the working hours’ end, so should monitoring.  

Some companies don’t realize this concept and keep surveilling their workers even when they return to the comfort of their homes. It goes without saying, this disrespects the employees’ privacy since companies will be watching their employees during personal hours. A time, might we add, is no longer under the company’s authority, or on the company’s premises. 

Companies usually do this to see if their employees use company laptops for outside work, which is valid. To some extent. In any case, any company has the right to ask their employees not to take their work laptops off company premises, instead of subliminally spying on them and invading their privacy. This also can have legal repercussions, so it is not just an ethical issue. It is against the law. 


How to Practice Monitoring Ethically 

Employee monitoring can be done ethically. When done correctly, it will enhance productivity and make the workplace healthier. Here are some key points to ensure ethical employee monitoring. 

  • Make the higher-up realize the importance of it 

There is a way to practice employee monitoring without causing any employee monitoring ethical issues. It starts with respect for the employees and good planning. Let us take a look at a couple of tips. 

You can implemetn employee monitoring ethically if you hold the leaders accountable. If it starts from the top, and when the higher-ups realize the gravity and legal consequences of the malpractices of monitoring, they will make sure that they implement it correctly. Employees, after all, are just the working force that will follow what their superior plans for them, so make sure their superior respects their values. 

  • Be fully transparent 

Furthermore, being straightforward with your employees can go a long way. Instead of trying to spy on them in the hopes of catching them red-handed, you can be honest with them. If they know they are being monitored, they will work harder. That’s the whole point in the first place. 

  • A proper plan 

Finally, it is not a simple task. Plan it well, consult specialists and make sure you download great software with minor ethical issues. Set the dates for data round-up and let your employees know you are evaluating them regularly. Restrict the policy of taking company laptops off premises or implement a bring your laptop policy. 

Final Thoughts 

Balance is the key, and when you do things moderation can be justified. To monitor your employees, you must ensure you do it while respecting them and their privacy rights. Transparency is essential and deceiving your hard-working employees is never a good option. If they see you being honest with them, they will feel more encouraged to give work their all.  

Inside Telecom provides you with an extensive list of content covering all aspects of the tech industry. Keep an eye on our Ethical Tech section to stay informed and up-to-date with our daily articles.