To monitor or not to monitor? That is the question many employers are asking themselves when it comes to their employees' online behavior. Some view the concept of monitoring as a major invasion of privacy, and therefore damaging to morale.
While others say the ability to protect data and ensure a safe work environment far outweighs this risk. So, how do you know what's right for your business? In addition, how can you make this process as smooth as possible?
There are a number of reasons why monitoring can be very helpful to a company.
To begin with, monitoring online activity can:
- Protect your organization from data theft or harm – careless or disgruntled employees may leak or steal your data.
- Ensure you have a harassment-free workplace – cyber harassment (sexual or otherwise) happens among employees.
- Ensure staff are complying with policies – this includes not downloading illegal programs or spending time on websites with illegal or hostile content.
- Provide evidence in case of a lawsuit - for example, an employee participates in illegal activities using your business’s computers (heaven forbid). Monitoring can provide evidence of who was involved.
On the other hand, many business owners may discover that their staff members aren’t focused solely on the company’s success. There are potential downfalls to online monitoring that you should be aware of.
- Productivity loss – monitoring can put a damper on employee morale. Therefore, you may see the distrust lead to productivity losses.
- Lost privacy and lawsuits – you’ll likely learn personal details of your employees. Controversial details you would’ve never known about, had you not monitored them.
For instance, you may discover their political or religious views, sexual orientation, or medical problems. And as a result, potentially open up your business to privacy or discrimination issues. Especially, if you or your management team acts negatively based on any of this information.
Monitoring guidelines to follow
If you decide to monitor your employees, here are a few tips you should follow.
1. Create written policies
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I doing this for security purposes?
- Is it to ensure your employees aren’t wasting time on social media?
If your monitoring policies are too strict, you could create an atmosphere of distrust. Set guidelines for acceptable use of email, social media, web browsing, instant messaging, and downloading software and apps. In addition, make sure to include how monitoring will be carried out. And above all, how data will be secured or destroyed.
2. Tell your employees
Be honest. It’s important to inform your employees about the scope of your monitoring policies. Secretly monitoring employees will make the company appear shady. Therefore, creating a distrusting and hostile work environment. Moreover, you could face legal issues. Honesty is the best policy. Monitoring can deter employees from wasting time on the web. In other words, executing properly can actually boost productivity.
Explain why. Secondly, a critical rule of thumb is to explain why you’re monitoring them to begin with. Inform them of the risks your business faces from Internet misuse. Reassure them that you’re not trying to spy on their personal life. Focus the attention instead, on creating a compliant and law-abiding workplace.
Encourage your staff to keep their personal communication on their smartphones. This will help them maintain privacy. And last but not least, provide a copy of your written policy to employees to read and sign.
3. Get the right technology tools
Not every activity needs to be known. Scope out apps and software that alert you of the most relevant problems. This way, you can focus on more important tasks.
In short, monitoring online behavior requires honesty and thoughtful discussion with your employees. If implemented correctly, monitoring can ensure that your business is secure and productive.
Have more questions? Contact Cavu Networks today.