Choosing the Right Way to Inform Your Employees About Monitoring

As technology progresses, more and more monitoring systems become available for employers to utilize in the workplace. Although this sounds nifty, it brings with it the heavy responsibility that comes with great power.

We've now moved beyond simply “tapping phones” and installing hidden cameras, and on to the possibilities of monitoring just about every aspect of production within a company. Employers can install monitoring systems that allow them to access employee emails and view every moment of their internet usage. It's possible to not only track how much time and data is being used browsing the net, but exactly which sites are being frequented. Company mobile devices can also be outfitted with apps that covertly records all texts, mobile web browsing, and phone calls.

There are intricate software systems now available that even monitor keystroke activity on work terminals, alerting employers when an employee's workstation has been idle for too long. GPS units are installed on company vehicles and are used especially in companies with large fleets or freight vehicles. The law even allows companies to open postage marked “personal” that is delivered to the company address.

The fact is, the law allows for very little privacy when it comes to the workplace. These monitoring systems are in place not only to track productivity but to enhance the safety of the workplace.



Workplace Monitoring: Managing Expectations with Sensitivity

Irrespective of the means, monitoring staff can be a delicate matter and, for many, an emotional boundary to managing with a sense of compassion and sensitivity. For employers looking at installing monitoring systems to track their staff’s productivity and safety, consideration will need to be given on how to inform employees that their activities at work are being constantly surveyed.

In order to decide how to inform staff that they are being monitored, employers would need to examine their company's size, the company culture, and the racial and gender make-up of their team. Additionally, they should examine the relationship that they, as executives, have fostered with their employees to pre-empt how the news may be received.

The following methods could be considered for informing staff of workplace monitoring:


Emailed Memos

This is probably the most commonly used method, for its convenience, and its seeming lack of prejudice. While this is a convenient solution for a large-scale corporate company, one would need to bear in mind that for a smaller business with an informal culture, it may come across as cold, and staff members may feel that questions about the systems are not welcome. Another risk to consider that that when employee concerns arise over the workplace monitoring, these negative reactions are not being addressed swiftly. As a result, mass panic could occur, and employers could find themselves doing unnecessary damage control to restore peace and trust. It is also worth remembering that there are certain staff members, such as janitors, who may not have access to emails, and therefore are often overlooked when important memos are sent out.


Staff Meetings

A more personalized method of informing staff of workplace monitoring could be to incorporate it into existing staff meetings. This could make it the responsibility of each Department Head to issue the news to his/her team in their weekly or monthly meetings. This would work ideally in the case that each department head has forged positive relationships with their team, and as such, the news would be received with respect and a sense of safety and trust. This format also allows employees to ask questions and managers to convey concerns back to corporate leaders. Once again, one would need to take care that absent team members are updated.


Company Handbook

Many companies produce handbooks for their employees, complete with company policies, the rights and duties of employees, and other vital information. Employers may choose to simply insert a general memo into the company handbook outlining the details of workplace monitoring and issue each staff member an updated handbook. This method may also seem impersonal, and invites very little engagement on the matter, but may well be sufficient for a company where employee job satisfaction is positive, and staff members have little reason to mistrust their employer. This can also be a useful way of informing new employees about the processes of employee monitoring already in place.


Discussion and Q&A – Group and Individual

Where a company environment is volatile--whether this is a result of a breach in security, critical-level office politics, or gross mismanagement of time or resources--it may be necessary to consider holding an open-forum discussion with all employees. Informing employees who are already unhappy that they’re now under constant surveillance can be like negotiating a landmine of emotions. Allowing staff members to express their concerns openly, and addressing their concerns with compassion, are the first steps in building trust with employees and helping them to feel not only comfortable with workplace monitoring, but even to potentially see its value.


Putting Workers' Minds at Rest

When informing staff that they are now under surveillance at their workplace, it is important that the following concerns are addressed:

  • Inform team members that all staff members are being monitored equally. No prejudice is being given to any ethnicity, gender, class, or hierarchy.
  • Where possible, and if safe, be specific as to what measures are being taken and elaborate on what systems are being installed, such as telephone conversation recording, internet usage monitoring, computer terminal activity, video recording, vehicle GPS, etc.
  • Help employees to see that these systems are being implemented for their physical safety, to enhance their workplace experience, and to help managers to lead their teams more effectively by allowing them to identify problems that occur in their absence.
  • Reiterate to employees that any bathrooms and changing rooms are still a safe and private place.
  • Reassure staff that all measures being put into place are legal and ethical, and in the event of litigation, recordings are made available to the law to support the truth.

Monitoring employees at a workplace is a sensitive task, but if negotiated correctly, it can empower employers with information about their organization and ultimately change the direction of the entire company. If you believe your company may benefit from such systems, we encourage you to contact our team for assistance. We can help you get a handle on your business.

Can Electronic Surveillance of Employees Improve Productivity?

A look at the pros and cons of employee surveillance in the workplace.


Do you monitor your employee’s activity in the workplace? With the easy accessibility of social media, smartphones, and web browsing, employers are looking for ways to ensure employee productivity remains high despite possible distractions. Employee monitoring has one of the best means of determining what workers are really doing, but it’s important to first consider whether the choice to utilize employee monitoring is right for the climate of your business. Many businesses report positive results, but not all workplace environments respond positively to this type of monitoring. Before you begin, there are a few questions you should consider in light of your company’s culture and team members.


How Will Electronic Surveillance Improve My Employees’ Productivity?

Employee monitoring tools help maximize productivity and ensure compliance with your most important policies. With so many distractions on hand, it can be easy for employees to lose track of time browsing websites and checking social media. A significant loss of revenue for businesses comes from the inappropriate use of time by employees.


Employee Surveillance: Three Ways

At BrickHouse Security we offer several different options for monitoring office employees. These means can provide you with the information you need about your employees’ productivity, the means of inspiring greater productivity in your employees, and the ability to have greater knowledge and control over your employees’ action during the work day. These are the three most common forms of employee surveillance in the office:


Video Surveillance

Wireless, covert cameras can be placed both indoors and outdoors in order to monitor important locations around the business. Having cameras installed can help prevent employee theft, property vandalism, break-ins, and more. Having cameras trained on areas where employees frequently waste time, such as near entrances where smoke breaks are taken, or in employee kitchens where food and coffee are prepared, can allow employees to recognize that they could potentially be monitored in these areas, giving them the chance to correct undesirable behavior like taking extra long or frequent breaks or socializing for extended periods of time during work hours.


Mobile Monitoring

With mobile monitoring, employers gain a greater understanding of what their employees are doing on all company-owned mobile devices. This includes text and instant messages sent and received, incoming and outgoing calls, and social media channel communications. This measure may be seen as intrusive or unwelcome by employees, and for this reason it is only legal to do if the employees’ devices are company-owned or the employee grants consent. Mobile monitoring can allow employers to detect areas that are a time-suck for productivity, such as excessive social browsing, taking personal calls or exchanging personal messages, and engaging in other time-wasting, non-work-related activities.  


Computer Monitoring

Computer monitoring offers a wide variety of benefits, while being easy to install and completely customizable. Owners and managers are able to see every email sent and received, both sides of instant messaging chats, website browsing, social media channels visited, and all internet searches. In this way, employers can truly identify exactly where their employees’ time and efforts are going during work hours and whether they are working as diligently as they claim to be. More importantly than simply tracking employee behavior, computer monitoring software allows managers to see where the majority of an employee’s time is spent, where they are working efficiently, and where they are wasting efforts. In this way, employers can help to train their employees to work with more efficiency, thereby reaping better results.


Other Features of Employee Monitoring Software

Another great feature of Brickhouse Security’s computer monitoring is the ability to block specific websites, addresses, and keyword searches. The software also makes it possible to monitor employees working remotely, giving employers a clearer picture of their employees’ activities even when they are physically out of the office.

For even greater protection, this software can also help protect sensitive information by making the recovery of a stolen piece of technology a little easier. Laptop recovery software acts as an anti-theft tool by providing discreet, remote access to any computer, allowing you to locate it.


Is There a Reason I Shouldn’t I Use Electronic Surveillance?

The most common issue with incorporating electronic surveillance is the strain it can cause between employee and employer. Some employees may feel that they should be trusted and provided the freedom to work without restrictions and constant monitoring. If this is the prevailing attitude, implementing extensive monitoring can be detrimental to team morale, culture, commitment, and motivation.

However, if employers can be clear and up front with their employees about the monitoring tactics being used and the benefits of these applications, this can build trust between employer and employee, making the monitoring feel more natural and less nefarious. It’s also beneficial to keep communication open, from both directions. Employers should be providing information and education about the measures being taken to uphold company security, but they should also be listening to the concerns that their employees have by giving them a safe place for expression. Company-wide meetings and occasional security training sessions can help to build trust and provide employees with opportunities to ask questions and express concerns.  

If you have questions about the best tactics to use in the monitoring of your employees’ productivity, the experts at BrickHouse Security can help. We have worked with companies of all sizes, from small businesses to multi-location corporations, and we can help you assess your situation and make recommendations about the best tools to meet your needs. Contact us with your questions today!