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Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance of Employees - A Study

We recently located this very interesting survey study conducted by the American Management Association on business use of surveillance and monitoring of employees to enhance productivity and deter antisocial and anti-business behaviors. While this study was conducted in 2007, it is still recent enough to give good consideration to as a business owner. Considering that technology and accesibility have only become more enhanced and portable, it could be safe to assume that since 2007 these numbers have increased. We've pulled the highlights below with a link to the full document.

From e-mail monitoring and Website blocking to phone tapping and GPS tracking, employers increasingly combine technology with policy to manage productivity and minimize litigation, security, and other risks. To motivate compliance with rules and policies, more than one fourth of employers have fired workers for misusing e-mail and nearly one third have fired employees for misusing the Internet, according to the 2007 Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey from American Management Association (AMA) and The ePolicy Institute.

How Employers Notify Users About Monitoring:

While only two states, Delaware and Connecticut, require employers to notify employees of monitoring, the majority are in fact alerting employees when they are being watched. Fully 83% inform workers that the company is monitoring content, keystrokes and time spent at the keyboard; another 84% let employees know the company reviews computer files; and an additional 71% of employer’s alert employees to e-mail monitoring.

Unfortunately, the methods employers use to alert employees to e-mail and Internet monitoring are not necessarily the most effective: 70% of organizations in 2007 relied on an employee handbook to inform users about computer monitoring; 40% relied on e-mail notices; 35% used written notices; and 32% relied on intranet postings. Only 27% of employers addressed monitoring policies and practices as part of formal, on-site employee training—the recommended way to maximize compliance.

You cannot expect an uninformed workforce to comply with policy. And you cannot trust employees on their own to access the company intranet system or retrieve a copy of the employee handbook in order to educate themselves about monitoring or other electronic rules and policies. Best practices call for formal employee training, which grants employees the opportunity to ask questions and gain a thorough understanding of electronic rules, policies, and procedures.

Video Surveillance:

Almost half (48%) of the companies surveyed use video monitoring to counter theft, violence and sabotage, versus 33% in 2001. Only 7% use video surveillance to track employees’ onthe-job performance, a slight increase over the 4% reported in 2001. Most employers notify employees of anti-theft video surveillance (78%) and performance-related video monitoring (89%).

Global Satellite Positioning and Emerging Surveillance Technology:

Employers have been slow to adopt emerging monitoring/surveillance technologies to help track employee productivity and movement. Employers who use Assisted Global Positioning or Global Positioning Systems satellite technology are in the minority, with only 8% using GPS to track company vehicles; 3% using GPS to monitor cell phones; and less than 1% using GPS to monitor employee ID/Smartcards.

The majority (52%) of companies employ Smartcard technology to control physical security and access to buildings and data centers. Trailing far behind is the use of technology that enables fingerprint scans (2%), facial recognition (0.4%) and iris scans (0.4%).


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