Should I be monitoring employees? More and more employers are asking this question, especially since we’re in a global pandemic and most employees are working from home.  Of course, the question stems from the issue of abuse, whether it be lack of performance, accidents or other liability concerns.  Employers are dedicated to ensuring safety, productivity and certainly prefer to avoid risks (caused by employees or otherwise). Employee behavior may positively or negatively impact the company’s brand and finances.  Therefore, being proactive and monitoring your employees is a wise policy.

Opponents of monitoring employees argue that by doing so, employers are violating employees’ privacy and creating a surveillance atmosphere placing them in an exposed state.  Furthermore, proponents of employee rights claim that knowing that you are monitored may impact productivity and create a state of confinement, which may add unnecessary anxiety.

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Both camps have valid points, but we’ll be analyzing the top three reasons for monitoring employees, and the justification for doing so.

Reason #1

Drug and Alcohol Testing

Drug and alcohol testing has been a means of monitoring employees for many decades now, and it’s primarily been done in high-risk professions such as, construction workers, warehouse employees, security guards, and other demanding professions.  COVID has certainly changed the situation and we’re witnessing an explosion of drug and alcohol abuse.  Prior to the pandemic, prescription drug abuse spiked to an overall double-digit percentage.   As such, testing should not be limited to specific industries, instead employers should consider a broad employment policy reform and the implementation of substance testing as a requirement to being hired and while working.

Reason #2 Monitoring productivity during working hours

Some employers now use sophisticated software to monitor their employee’s activities during work hours.  They monitor keyboard clicks, phone calls and overall activity through a system that is connected to the manager and is based on their network and VPN connection.  Effectively, the manager is able to look into the employee’s activity at any time during the day.  Given that remote working is now prevalent, and it may be the way of the future, as more and more employers are considering this option to monitor daily productivity.  This actually does benefit the employee because it keeps the employee accountable and helps with performance evaluations.  So, it is another area for employers to consider.

Reason #3 – Social Media and Political Correctness

We see more and more situations of people getting in trouble based on what they said, where they said it, and how it was interpreted.  Often employees think that by being out of the office, they are exempt from any sort of reprimand.  On the contrary, an employee’s actions, even outside of office hours may impact the employer.  In age of the internet and increased availability of information, everything is being recorded.  In particular, social media has caused so many problems for people as they don’t consider the impact of their posts and comments.  People seem to think that their posts are harmless, when in fact, something may trigger an unforeseen action, which may bring the employer to the spotlight.

It’s pretty common that employers typically connect with employees and monitor their behavior after being hired and prior to being hired.  So, monitoring social media is one option for employers

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