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Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Employee Monitoring

The methods and practices organizations use to oversee their employees’ performance and behavior in the workplace is known as employee monitoring. This can include tracking internet usage, reviewing emails, recording calls, and even using video surveillance.

What is employee monitoring?

Employee monitoring refers to the practice of using various tools, technologies, or methods to track and collect information about employees' activities in the workplace. The primary goal of employee monitoring is often to ensure productivity, security, and compliance with organizational policies.

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Who is responsible for employee monitoring?

Key parties responsible for employee monitoring include:

  • Human resources (HR) department: The HR department is often involved in establishing and implementing employee monitoring policies. They may oversee the development of guidelines, communicate policies to employees, and handle employee concerns or disputes related to monitoring.
  • IT (information technology) department: The IT department is responsible for implementing and maintaining monitoring technologies, such as software and systems that track computer usage, internet activities, and network security. They ensure that monitoring tools comply with privacy and legal standards.
  • Management and supervisors: Managers and supervisors play a role in monitoring employee performance and behavior within their respective teams. This may involve tracking work progress, ensuring adherence to policies, and providing feedback based on performance metrics.
  • Legal and compliance teams: Legal and compliance teams are responsible for ensuring that employee monitoring practices comply with relevant laws and regulations. They may provide guidance on the legal implications of monitoring and assist in establishing policies that align with legal requirements.
  • Company leadership and executives: Company leadership, including executives and top management, may be involved in setting the overall tone and approach to employee monitoring. They may make decisions regarding the extent of monitoring and ensure that it aligns with the organization's values and goals.
  • Employees: Employees themselves have a role in understanding and adhering to monitoring policies. They are responsible for complying with company guidelines and being aware of the extent to which their activities may be monitored.
  • Internal audit or security teams: Internal audit or security teams may be involved in monitoring for compliance and security purposes. They may focus on detecting and preventing unauthorized access to sensitive information and ensuring the integrity of organizational systems.
  • Ethics and compliance officers: Some organizations have ethics and compliance officers who oversee ethical practices within the company. They may play a role in ensuring that monitoring practices align with ethical standards and the organization's code of conduct.

What data is collected in employee monitoring?

The data collected in employee monitoring are

1. Computer and internet usage

  • Website visits: Monitoring software may track the websites employees visit during work hours.
  • Application usage: Information on which applications and software employees use.
  • Emails and communication: Monitoring of email content, attachments, and communication through messaging tools.

2. Productivity metrics

  • Time spent on tasks: Tracking the amount of time employees spend on specific tasks or projects.
  • Keystroke logging: Monitoring the number of keystrokes or mouse clicks to measure activity levels.
  • Screen capture: Periodic screenshots or screen recording to observe work activities.

3. Communication monitoring

  • Call logs: Tracking phone call logs and durations for employees who use company phones.
  • Instant messaging: Monitoring messages sent through internal communication platforms.

4. Physical location

  • GPS tracking: For employees who work in the field or use company-owned vehicles, GPS tracking may be implemented to monitor their physical location.
  • Fingerprint scans or biometric time clocks: In some cases, biometric data may be collected for time and attendance tracking.

5. Performance metrics

  • Key performance indicators (KPIs): Metrics related to job performance, such as sales numbers, targets achieved, or other relevant performance indicators.

6. Attendance and time-tracking

  • Clock-In/Clock-Out Times: Monitoring start and end times of work shifts.
  • Break Times: Tracking the duration and frequency of breaks taken by employees.

7. Surveillance cameras

  • Video Footage: Surveillance cameras may be used to monitor employees in common areas, entry/exit points, or specific workspaces.

8. Network and system security

  • Access logs: Monitoring employee access to company networks, servers, and confidential files.
  • Security alerts: Detection of suspicious activities that may pose a security risk.

9. Employee surveys and feedback

  • Feedback forms: Collecting feedback from employees through surveys or performance evaluations.

10. Social media monitoring

  • Social media activity: Monitoring of employees' public social media profiles for potential policy violations or reputational risks to the company.

Why is it important to maintain privacy in employee monitoring?

Here are key reasons why privacy in employee monitoring is important:

  • Legal compliance:Compliance with privacy laws and regulations is paramount. Many jurisdictions have specific laws that govern the collection, storage, and use of employee data. Failing to adhere to these regulations can result in legal consequences, including fines and legal actions.
  • Employee trust and morale: Respect for privacy fosters a positive work environment and builds trust between employers and employees. Excessive or invasive monitoring can lead to a lack of trust, decreased morale, and a negative impact on employee engagement.
  • Employee rights: Employees have a right to privacy, and this right extends to the workplace. Respecting employee privacy rights is essential for maintaining ethical practices and demonstrating a commitment to employee well-being.
  • Retention and recruitment: A workplace that values privacy is likely to attract and retain talented employees. Job seekers and current employees are increasingly concerned about their privacy, and organizations that prioritize this aspect may have a competitive advantage.
  • Avoidance of discrimination and bias: Unintended biases may arise when monitoring data is used improperly. Protecting employee privacy helps mitigate the risk of discriminatory practices and ensures that employment decisions are based on fair and objective criteria.
  • Reduced legal liability: Invasive monitoring practices may increase the risk of legal disputes and employee grievances. Maintaining privacy reduces the likelihood of legal liability and helps organizations avoid legal challenges related to improper monitoring practices.
  • Focus on results and trust-based relationships: A results-oriented approach, where employees are trusted to deliver based on their performance, fosters a more positive work culture. A focus on outcomes rather than constant surveillance promotes a sense of responsibility and autonomy.
  • Enhanced employee productivity: Employees are more likely to be productive and focused on their work when they feel their privacy is respected. Constant monitoring may lead to anxiety and stress, negatively impacting overall productivity.
  • Mitigation of resistance and pushback: Excessive monitoring can lead to resistance and pushback from employees. By maintaining a balance and respecting privacy, organizations can reduce the likelihood of negative reactions and opposition to monitoring initiatives.
  • Employee well-being: Protecting employee privacy is a fundamental aspect of supporting their overall well-being. It contributes to a healthy work-life balance and helps create a positive and supportive work environment.
  • Reputation management: Privacy breaches can damage the reputation of an organization. News of invasive monitoring practices can lead to negative publicity and impact the company's image among customers, clients, and the public.
  • Cultural and ethical considerations: An organization's commitment to privacy reflects its values and ethical standards. Demonstrating a commitment to respecting employee privacy contributes to a positive corporate culture.

Why do organizations implement employee monitoring?

The reasons why organizations implement employee monitoring are:

  • Productivity measurement: Monitoring can help organizations understand how employees spend their time during work hours. This can highlight inefficiencies and identify opportunities for improvement. It can also help managers allocate resources more effectively.
  • Performance evaluation: Employee monitoring can provide objective data for performance evaluations. It can help identify high-performing employees and those who might need additional support or training.
  • Security and compliance: Monitoring can help prevent security breaches and ensure compliance with industry regulations. For example, in industries dealing with sensitive data, monitoring can help ensure that employees are following proper protocols.
  • Remote work management: With the rise of remote work, monitoring tools can help managers keep track of remote employees’ work habits and productivity. It can also ensure that employees are maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
  • Preventing misconduct: Employee monitoring can deter inappropriate behavior and provide evidence in case of disputes. It can help maintain a safe and respectful workplace environment.
  • Operational efficiency: By understanding how tasks are performed, organizations can streamline processes, reduce errors, and improve customer service.

How is employee monitoring conducted?

The ways in which employee monitoring are conducted are:

  • Computer monitoring: Organizations often use software to monitor employees’ computer usage. This can include tracking websites visited, applications used, and time spent on different tasks. Some software can even capture screenshots or record keystrokes.
  • Email and internet monitoring: Employers may monitor employees’ email and internet use to ensure they are not engaging in inappropriate behavior or wasting company time. This can also help prevent security breaches.

    Phone call monitoring: In customer service roles, phone calls may be recorded and monitored for quality assurance purposes. This can help improve customer service and identify areas for employee training.
  • Video surveillance: In physical workplaces, video cameras may be used to monitor employee behavior and ensure safety and security.
  • GPS tracking: For roles that involve travel or field work, employers may use GPS devices to track employees’ locations.
  • Time tracking: Employers often use time tracking software to monitor when employees clock in and out, how long they take for breaks, and overall time spent on work.
  • Productivity monitoring: This involves tracking the output of employees. For example, how many tasks an employee completes in a day, or how many sales they make.
  • Social media monitoring: Some employers monitor their employees’ public social media posts. This can help protect the company’s reputation.

Employee pulse surveys:

These are short surveys that can be sent frequently to check what your employees think about an issue quickly. The survey comprises fewer questions (not more than 10) to get the information quickly. These can be administered at regular intervals (monthly/weekly/quarterly).

One-on-one meetings:

Having periodic, hour-long meetings for an informal chat with every team member is an excellent way to get a true sense of what’s happening with them. Since it is a safe and private conversation, it helps you get better details about an issue.


eNPS (employee Net Promoter score) is one of the simplest yet effective ways to assess your employee's opinion of your company. It includes one intriguing question that gauges loyalty. An example of eNPS questions include: How likely are you to recommend our company to others? Employees respond to the eNPS survey on a scale of 1-10, where 10 denotes they are ‘highly likely’ to recommend the company and 1 signifies they are ‘highly unlikely’ to recommend it.

Based on the responses, employees can be placed in three different categories:

  • Promoters
    Employees who have responded positively or agreed.
  • Detractors
    Employees who have reacted negatively or disagreed.
  • Passives
    Employees who have stayed neutral with their responses.

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