For any company to truly improve and evolve, it is important to know where you can make improvements in order to increase productivity. One way of staying on top of things is to monitor the activities and communication of all your employees whilst they are on the job.
However, the way in which you introduce employee monitoring into your company is just as important as the software systems you choose to use. It is also crucial to understand the laws governing this practice so you can stay within the bounds of the law and not impede on personal employee conversations or actions.
When done correctly, employee monitoring will not change the culture of the company. Instead, it adds value to the end product or service that the company offers. In the end, a company should use this tool responsibly to enforce company regulation. This way you can ensure to maintain a healthy level of trust between employees and upper management.
Monitoring Employees At The Workplace Without Breaking The Law
First, it’s important to know the law concerning employee monitoring. The Federal Wiretapping Act, also known as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, prohibits the capture or disclosure of any electronic communication where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
However, federal and most state privacy laws give discretion to employers regarding under what circumstances they can monitor their employees. In some cases, employers are not legally obligated to inform their employees that they are being monitored. While other regulations require consent. This heavily depends on state and local laws.
Privacy laws, like HIPAA, can also further complicate employee monitoring. Ultimately, employers have to carry the burden of protecting their employees’ information. This includes information that comes from an employee's personal browsing history or private data stored on a company computer. If you were to fall victim to a data breach, where most of your employees’ sensitive digital information were to be exposed, it could leave you vulnerable to litigation by your employees.
The United States data protection laws of 1998 require employers to protect the personal information of their employees. In addition to that, there are also federal and state laws that protect employees’ privacy at their workplace.
Some of these regulations, like the Video Privacy Protection Act and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), give employees the right to ask their employer to disclose the information gathered on them through video surveillance and other methods of monitoring.
However, when it comes to the use of company equipment to perform workplace duties, employees should know that their rights to privacy are limited. To navigate this fine line between company and employee rights, the employer should clearly disclose what they will monitor and why.
Policies Needed For The Monitoring Of Employees
Although not all states legally require you to be upfront about monitoring the activity or communication of your employees, it is best practice to do so. Going about this in a structured manner, where employees consent to being monitored offers a lot more legal protection to your company, in the long run. Especially, if things were to go awry.
Since policies and a code of conduct are already mandatory components for every business in the United States, companies should also outline the conditions of employee monitoring in their policy statement.
This policy outlining employee monitoring should:
- Define what and how employees will be monitored.
- Require written acknowledgment from employees.
- Stipulate that there is limited employee privacy when it comes to company property.
- State that gathered data will only pertain to work-related activities.
- Define the restrictions on the disclosure of personal information to third-data parties.
- Explain that the use of company time or equipment for personal use can lead to disciplinary action.
- Allow the employee to ask the employer any questions regarding the set policies
How To Introduce Employee Monitoring In The Company
The best policy would be to openly communicate with all workers beforehand. As an employer, you need to clearly and calmly explain why employee monitoring is important and how you will implement it in your company.
Most people may feel a little uncomfortable with the idea at first. This is why open communication is so important in establishing trust and aligning this practice with your company goals.
In fact, a recent survey showed that 77% of employed Americans would be less concerned about their employer monitoring what they do during work hours on both personal and company devices, as long as their employer was honest about it beforehand.
This shows the value of communication and how respecting your workforce can go a long way in receiving their co-operation in driving productivity forward.