Employee Monitoring

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Employee Monitoring: Employer Safeguard or Invasion of Privacy? Sarah L. Voorhees

Employee Monitoring: Employer Safeguard or Invasion of Privacy? Employee privacy has been a controversial topic especially with the rise in internet usage, the popularity of social media increasing, and the addition of GPS to mobile devices. With these advances in technology there are numerous ways for employers to monitor their employees’ time at work. According to Evans (2007) as many as eighty percent of the employers, who employ twenty percent of the American population, monitor employees’ telephone conversations, e-mails, and voicemails. Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology has made tracking the whereabouts of employees easier rather than tracking only information passed between employees and other individuals. The United States does offer privacy laws to help safeguard employees’ expectations of privacy; however, the laws are formatted around the physical realm such as desk drawers or an employee’s home, not an employee’s computer files or even social networking site (Riego, Abril, & Levin, 2012). It has become apparent that social media is here to stay. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have changed how people communicate in their daily lives and even how organizations do business. Employers have begun using social networking sites not only to market themselves but also as a human resource tool, making themselves accessible to potential customers and employees alike. Some of the ways employers have begun utilizing social networking include orientation, training, faster innovation of products and services, and improved efficiencies of operations through employee collaboration (Mello, 2012). Although there are clear advantages for employers using social networking sites, there are some murky areas that are becoming increasingly common when using these sites as an instrument to monitor and screen employees as well as applicants. The Social Norm of Employee Monitoring

In the digital era of today’s working environment, almost all employees are aware their employer is performing some form of monitoring with email monitoring being the most expected. However, the degree of monitoring employers partake in varies. With the lines between personal lives and the work environment blurring, employers are taking advantage of the array of technology they have at their disposal. A heightened awareness of this blurring requires employers to become more probing towards their employees. This becomes apparent with the discovery of 85% of employers recognizing their employees’ use of social networking and personal internet usage during work hours (Mello, 2012). There are many ways that employers utilize applicable technologies, including GPS and social networking sites. GPS: Advantages and Disadvantages

Employers have a legitimate reason to need and want to monitor their employees. GPS systems can be useful for organizations that have a mobile workforce. Installing GPS systems can be used to help cut cost as well as unauthorized usage of company vehicles (Towns & Cobb, 2012). Most GPS systems not only have the ability of pinpointing locations within 100 feet but also track speed and inform the drivers of the current speed limit. Major cost savings can be seen due to increased productivity of employees due to more effective usage of their time when employees are aware of employers tracking their movements. Likewise, when employees follow the speed limit it can be translated in savings in fuel costs and decreased number of accidents (Towns & Cobb, 2012).

Like most advancements in technology, when there is a positive use there is also a negative misuse. While there is a potential for efficiency to increase with GPS usage, there is also the potential for employers to set irrational time frames and quotas to try to increase efficiency (Towns & Cobb, 2012). This can place unwarranted pressure on employees. Some...
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