Employee Monitoring: The Dos and The Don’ts

Employee Monitoring: The Dos and The Don’ts

You have many ways of checking your staffs’ activities: email filters, website visit logs, global positioning systems, phone logs, or Veriato 360.

But just because you can use them doesn’t mean you should do so indiscriminately.

Here’s a list of what you should and shouldn’t do when contemplating and implementing employee monitoring policies:

The Dos

  • Create a clear, well-written policy. The most important thing you can do is write and distribute a policy that clearly states what your staff can expect from a monitoring policy. Include what’s monitored, where it’s monitored and when it’s monitored in the policy.
  • Explain the “why.” Also in the policy, explain why monitoring their activities benefit the company. This could include anything from reducing theft to ensuring employees don’t accidentally download viruses onto the company desktops.
  • Personalize your policies to fit your needs. There’s a fine line between keeping an eye on important workplace practices and playing “Big Brother,” so choose your monitoring systems carefully to ensure they aren’t intrusive.
  • Make data storage a high priority. This means you have to keep data somewhere, and that “somewhere” should be on a secure file storage – especially if any of the data contains sensitive info. Also, tell your employees that only people on a “need to know” basis will have access to the data.
  • Create social media policies. If you haven’t established a social media policy by now, you’re not going to want to wait much longer: More than 90% of firms in a recent Symantec survey said they’ve experienced the disadvantages of worker social media use. Enumerate what social media use is allowed in the workplace, if any. Also address how and when staffers can write about the company, personnel and products online.

The Definite No-No’s

  • Be mindful in restricting employee personal cell phone use. There are some instances where personal cell phone use should be verboten – for example, you don’t want drivers texting or distracted by phone calls while they’re working. Consider that worker cell phone and texting use rarely becomes a major workplace problem, so there’s little need to create a policy restricting it. If issues come up, address them on a case-by-case basis.
  • Include employees’ use of personal email in the policies. If you want to restrict employees’ access to their Gmail or Yahoo email accounts, spell that out clearly in your policy.
  • Take a balanced approach to personal access to the Internet. Many firms have restrictions on what sites employees can access on workplace networks. Your staff will appreciate having some freedom – for example, looking up the address of a local restaurant – and it shouldn’t interfere with workplace productivity or effectiveness.
  • Never be too intrusive. Webcams and location tracking devices may sound like great ways to make sure employees are working hard, but they can come back to bite you if you’re not careful. Do the research on what the devices are capable of doing, how they work and, most importantly, any legal issues you could find yourself in for using them. There’s a fine line between having reasonable business concerns and improperly intruding on your staffs’ privacy.

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