Is Worker Surveillance Worth It? You Make The Call

Before the pandemic, many employees worked their daily jobs without much interaction with managers. In fact, as long as they were productive, many workers enjoyed a significant level of work autonomy.

Once the pandemic began and remote work became the norm, some managers became hyper-vigilant about what employees were doing "remotely". This caused the increase of worker surveillance programs designed to track employees work through various monitoring programs that count keystrokes, monitor mouse usage, and even taking periodic screenshots or taking pictures of employees through their webcams.

Some surveillance has been taken to such extremes that some employees are quitting because of it while others are actively seeking out ways to "beat" the monitoring programs.

Researchers have found that the increase in monitoring has caused worker burnout since workers feel they are not trusted to do their work. Employees feel micromanaged and that they are being "accused' of wasting company time when they take a bathroom break or grab a snack - activities that would seem normal in a traditional office environment.

Not all monitoring is bad, however; it can be used to increase communication and for goal setting. It is when the monitoring goes from "rational or even beneficial and begins to creep into other territories" that cause workers to feel uncomfortable.

It is advised that organizations bring employees to the table when talking about the types of monitoring programs and the purposes behind them. This way everyone is on the same page. Kate Morgan and Delaney Nolan, "How worker surveillance is backfiring on employers" (Jan. 30, 2023).

So, the question for our readers is: Is Worker Surveillance Worth It?

Please take the poll. Subscribe and listen to our RiskTrendsTM Trusted Insight Podcast to hear discussions regarding the responses of our readers to the poll question in our weekly "You Make The Call" articles, as well as discussions on other emerging workplace risks.

Here is the opinions of one of the McCalmon editorial staff:

Jack McCalmon, Esq.

I am a big fan of setting goals and using those to determine whether work is being performed well. I can understand some jobs need closer monitoring, but I also see how those jobs can have higher-than-normal turnover from the stress monitoring creates.

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