With the latest advances in technology, more and more organisations in the United Kingdom are monitoring their employees. Monitoring employees involves tracking their Internet activity, such as what they spend their work time doing online, what websites they visit, and who they email; listening to phone calls from work and mobile phones; drug testing; and videotaping their activities while at the office.
In the UK, there are specific laws that govern how employees can be monitored. For example, for drug testing, Gov.uk states that employers need to have employee consent to drug test, and need to drug test randomly and not single anyone out. The Data Protection Act states that when employers choose to monitor the staff’s email or videotape them with CCTV, they need to explicitly explain the amount of monitoring in a handbook, and state if any personal phone calls or emails are allowed at all, and if so, how many.
Pros of Monitoring at Work
Efficiency – Monitoring employees by videotaping them or by checking their online activity will ensure that they focus on work tasks. Some individuals have a hard time concentrating, and like to surf the Internet, read news, and even do some online shopping from the office. Others like to conduct personal business at work, paying bills, responding to their own correspondence, or planning holidays. However, when staff members know they are being monitored, they will have to abstain from these activities, and only focus on their work assignments.
Errors – When you videotape employees, you have the chance to catch any errors they may make. For example, if you have a clothing store, you can videotape your sales clerks and watch their interaction with customers. If anyone is being rude or mismarking merchandise, you will be able to catch it, even if you are not at the physical location.
Safety – Monitoring staff members will give managers the peace of mind that the staffs are doing everything according to policy. If you are supervising a construction team, checking the footage of each area will allow you to make sure that all employees are wearing hardhats, and following all precautionary measures.
Cons of Monitoring at Work
Trust – Many employees do not like to be monitored at work for obvious reasons. They feel that it is a violation of their privacy, and that as long as they do their work, they should be left alone to do what they feel like.
Litigation – As already mentioned, the UK has strict laws protecting employee privacy at work. When monitoring employees, make sure to follow all of the rules, or you will risk exposing your company to expensive lawsuits.
There are many pros and cons of monitoring employees at work. While it can increase productivity and safety, it can make staff members feel as if their privacy has been compromised.
Head of Training and Development
Updated on: 19 November, 2014
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