With remote and flexible work becoming the new norm due to the pandemic, employee monitoring tools have gained popularity as the most effective way to track and manage employees. However, monitoring employees does raise ethical issues that you’ll want to steer clear of.
The ethics of monitoring employees are quite subjective and not very cut and dry. On the bright side if your goal is to stay above board, a good way to start is by following five important rules:
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The number one rule, if you want to monitor your employees ethically, is to be transparent. Don’t conceal the fact that you’re monitoring them, but instead inform them about it and come up with a detailed and clear policy.
How to implement monitoring software will largely depend on the software that you use. In the case of WorkExaminer you’ll have lots of options to track app activity, browser history, file transfers, IM chats, and more. The policy you create should specify what it will track, and why.
Although WorkExaminer can run in the background and go completely unnoticed, it is best if you don’t use it that way.
Avoid capturing private information
While in many jurisdictions you are well within your legal rights to capture any and all information from company workstations, it is best to steer clear of information that is private. That can include private emails, IM conversations, passwords, or financial information.
Be particularly careful when using the keystroke, webcam, and screenshot capture features in WorkExaminer. While using it for forensic purposes is fine, capturing private information with it can cross a line in terms of ethics – unless there is a very good reason for it.
Stick to working hours
Technically you can monitor employees at any time if they’re using a workstation that has WorkExaminer installed on it. However, it is best if you restrict your monitoring to work hours only so as to not intrude into the privacy of your employees.
At the same time, if you use WorkExaminer’s other features to control and limit internet access or filter websites, you should consider turning it off once work hours are over. That will make your monitoring far less intrusive, and far more reasonable.
Only monitor data that you need
As a rule, you should always only monitor the data that you need – no more, and no less. For example, if your goal is to track employee performance information, there’s no need to monitor email or social media.
One of the main advantages of WorkExaminer is that it will let you decide exactly what data you want to track. With its user story interface, you can quickly adjust the settings to only track data that is relevant to your goals.
Focus on improvements – not penalties
Always remember that when using employee monitoring your goal should be to improve productivity, security or other areas – not penalize employees. Disciplinary action should be a last resort, never the first.
With the reports that WorkExaminer generates, you can quickly spot issues such as time wastage, low productivity, or slow progress. It will even calculate a productivity score for individual employees that can be used as a tool for comparison.
Instead of penalizing employees, however, you can use that data to help them. If you do it will build trust and be more ethically acceptable.
As you can see if employee monitoring is introduced in a careless way it can definitely be ethically questionable. However if you are careful about how you implement it, you can sidestep most of the ethical issues without too much difficulty.
No matter how careful you are, you should also try to involve your employees when you’re thinking of implementing employee monitoring. Ask them what they think about it, listen to their feedback, and try to accept their suggestions so that they feel their voices have been heard and taken into account.
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