Is it an invasion of privacy to use employee monitoring software?

Is it an invasion of privacy to track employees/contractors during their work process? We take a closer look at the reality and make a determination.

The first thing that comes to mind when employee monitoring comes to mind is thoughts of managers standing over the shoulders of employees watching their every move. It comes across as an attempt to improve efficiency that damages morale and seems to say that there is an inherent mistrust of the working relationship a company and employee have.

On the other hand, employee efficiency is one of the most important aspects of running a business and paying for the best work as consistently as possible within the smallest time frame possible.

The debate is fierce, with employees throwing pressures and stress levels as reasons to avoid intricate employee monitoring systems from being the norm. From employers, it’s just a matter of cost versus worth, and if a good employee is good, they are making the most of their time during their work schedule.

Let’s look at it from the perspective of each side a bit more deeply.

From The Employer Side

It’s no secret that employers of varying sizes spend differently on the process of recruiting, training, and honing employees to perform as well as possible. Keeping employees happy is important to the function and processes that a business requires to keep chugging along.

But, the failure of employees to meet deadlines, fulfil promises and deliver results that satisfy can be detrimental. For the employer, it becomes a question of what matters more.

  • Is it more important to ensure a project is progressing at the rate it should be and if not why?
  • Do employees that are working on projects do drafts and then refine their work?
  • Are employees in the industry secretive about their production process to a point it would be a deal breaker?
  • Are contractors/employees less likely to “ghost” or disappear and if they are being tracked or more likely?

For employees that are paid salary or by project completion, its less of a problem to check on their progress constantly/track them because monitoring is just a spot checking tool to peak in.

For contractors/freelancers on an hourly wage, it comes more important to determine work being done during billable hours. Once again, it becomes a point of contention on how to judge what work is work that should be done for projects that require extensive research/understanding.

Understanding how much time is wasted checking facebook/slacking off can save hundreds if not thousands for a project, but it is all determined by how a freelancer/contractor works best and whether the work they provide is reasonable for their price in the end.

From The Employee Side

From the employee side, it’s half paranoia and half a need for freedom that makes many bucks at the idea of employee activity monitoring software as a way to minimize waste. For more creative fields such as graphic design, employee monitoring is more difficult because of each artist’s process can be different, so it’s harder to gauge besides their ability to meet deadlines.

For more technical fields, employee monitoring can be a great instructive tool for identifying weaknesses is in thinking/analytic processes, formatting, or smaller problems that can be tightened up/improved.

Employees feel more stressed by the fear of making a mistake with an audience and can limit their ability to get things done as efficiently as they want. There are many who spend extensive time preparing/researching and then quickly handle their work, and for an outside party, it can come across as time wasting.

The Verdict

Its hard to know just what anyone is capable of. Overbearing on their freedom can limit their ability to function well. Though, accountability is the first step to preventing problems before they turn into a full-blown crisis.

In the end, for the hurt that it seems employee monitoring can do regarding trust and stress, once its accustomed to can be at most a small hassle. It keeps employees on task and prevents any problems by spotting them early via this spot checking method of tracking project progress.