Interested in setting up an employee monitoring policy?
An effective employee monitoring policy helps you keep track of your employees’ activity and boost workplace productivity while clearly addressing any privacy concerns.
In this article, we’ll explain why you, as an employer, should consider an employee monitoring policy for your workplace, as well as what’s typically included in one of these policies.
We’ll even discuss some employee monitoring policy best practices so that you’ll be better prepared to create your own monitoring policy about workplace surveillance.
Before we continue, it’s important to mention that laws and regulations around employee monitoring policies vary by location and can change over time. Because of this, we strongly advise that you seek professional legal counsel before moving forward with any employee monitoring policy.
This Article Contains:
(Click on a link below to jump to a specific section)
- What is an employee monitoring policy?
- What should an employee monitoring policy cover?
- Two key reasons why your business should consider an employee monitoring policy
Let’s get started.
What is an employee monitoring policy?
Employee monitoring policies can help a business or employer better protect themselves, and their employees and clients, from potential legal issues related to employee monitoring in the workplace.
These policies also often deal with how the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) will operate while at work, along with most other instances of employee privacy regulation.
Effective employee monitoring policies should clearly explain when, where, and why employee monitoring is in place. This open communication can increase employee morale and give employees some clarity regarding expectations and privacy while at work.
What should an employee monitoring policy cover?
Here are some ideas for sections to consider including when creating an employee monitoring policy (Remember, it is highly recommended that you seek professional legal counsel when finalizing an employee monitoring policy):
This is where you’ll attempt to explain to your employee why you’re implementing an employee monitoring policy in the workplace and share the monitoring software you plan on using.
The goal of this section is to provide transparency and clarity to your employees, ensuring them that any employee monitoring will be implemented legally and with integrity to protect the privacy of the employee.
It might be helpful to mention the intended benefits of employee monitoring to the employee — such as workplace security or improved productivity.
It’s best to be as detailed as possible in this section as your aim is to make sure that your employees feel comfortable about workplace monitoring.
Here, you should explain who the employee monitoring policy applies to. This includes any employees, freelancers, any paid or voluntary members of the company, or anyone else who might be impacted by the policy when working with the company.
C. Types of monitoring
Explain the types of employee monitoring and workplace monitoring systems that you’ll be using.
Mention the type of surveillance, why you’re using it, when it’ll be used in the workplace, and how it’ll impact the employees’ privacy. Also mention if it will be used for any remote work.
Here’s a quick look at three common monitoring systems:
1. Camera surveillance
Cameras can be used as an employee monitoring tool. They’re often set up in parking lots, break rooms, personal offices, and various other rooms in the workplace for safety and surveillance purposes. However, there are certain areas where personal privacy is mandated by law and it’s strictly illegal to place cameras – such as restrooms. This is another important reason why you should consult with a legal advisor before constructing an employee monitoring policy..
2. Computer surveillance
This includes any employee monitoring software that monitors what employees are doing on a company computer and checks up on internet usage and activity.
A great example of an employee-friendly productivity tracking tool is Time Doctor, which can be easily installed on an employees’ computer.
There are also computer surveillance tools with keystroke logging features that will record what employees are typing during work hours. These types of employee monitoring software are often considered to be an invasion of privacy since they can capture sensitive data while employees are typing.
Note: Time Doctor never logs keystrokes out of respect for employee privacy.
Computer surveillance and internet monitoring can also serve as a security measure to deter unlawful activities or communications taking place in the workplace. If such activities are discovered and flagged, they could lead to legal repercussions for the employee and/or the company. It’s important to be transparent about how computer surveillance can impact employee privacy in their work lives.
3. GPS tracking surveillance
This type of employee monitoring is typically used for employee tracking when an employee needs to drive or travel for work (such as a delivery driver, or a taxi) to make sure that they are sticking to the correct routes and not taking long breaks or detours.
Monitoring employees while they drive can also ensure the safety of a client or customer if they are in the vehicle. When using GPS tracking, you should explain why you are using this type of employee tracking solution and clarify that it’s only for business purposes.
D. Data collection
In this section, clearly explain what data the employee monitoring solution will collect and record, as well as how these monitoring practices will impact the data privacy of the employee. It’s also important to indicate how the collected data will be stored for the employees’ data security. This is an essential element of the employee monitoring policy as there are often laws and regulations specifically pertaining to data storage.
The data collected by an employee monitoring solution could potentially include:
- Employee emails or instant messaging communication.
- Recordings of camera surveillance.
- Hours spent on the internet or social media during work time.
Mention the purpose of the data collection and what will happen to the data (an employees’ confidential information) long term and when they leave the company.
This is also important if you use the data for analysis by a third party or an internal team member. In such cases, the employee monitoring policy must include how and why surveillance data is analyzed. Again, we strongly advise consulting with a professional legal advisor.
At the end of the employee monitoring policy, there should be a place for the employee, the company or employer, and witnesses to sign. This helps to protect all involved parties from legal disputes related to employee monitoring and signifies an agreement to adhere to the monitoring policy.
It also represents that the employees are aware of being monitored in the workplace and that they understand the reasonable expectation of employee privacy.
If the way in which the company or employer is monitoring employees changes at all, the employee monitoring policy will need to be adjusted accordingly and signed again by all parties involved.
Two key reasons why your business should consider an employee monitoring policy
To help illustrate the importance of an employee monitoring policy, here are two key reasons you should consider implementing one:
1. Company transparency
In any relationship, transparency can increase trust. This includes the work environment and the employer-employee dynamic.
When employees know when, how, and where monitoring is taking place, they’re much more likely to trust the company and its reasons for using it. Ultimately, they’ll feel safer and more secure in their environment, which will increase employee productivity and help ensure good employee morale.
Company transparency also helps safeguard against legal liabilities associated with employee monitoring and ensure that you’re in adherence to the reasonable expectation of privacy law.
2. Prevents misuse of company resources
As we’ve mentioned before, an employee monitoring policy and monitoring software can help prevent the misuse of one of the company’s biggest resource: time.
In addition, a good monitoring policy can also prevent the misuse of other business-related resources in the workplace, like company vehicles, office space, computers, or technology.
While employee monitoring can benefit both the company and its staff, it’s important to have a solid monitoring policy in place to help protect the company from any legal issues and to keep in line with current workplace privacy laws.
Though this may seem like a lot of effort, time, and expense, the benefits are undeniable.
Use the tips we covered here as a guide to set up a safe and effective employee monitoring policy. Then, consult professional legal counsel to ensure that your policy is compliant and offers the appropriate coverage. Once that’s done, you can monitor employee activity with confidence and peace of mind.
Ryan Plank is a content marketer with a degree in Journalism and a background in technology. He lives in Orlando, Florida, and is an avid golfer.