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History of Work Force Monitoring and Surveillance Essay

The extent to which organizations monitor their employees reflects a lot about how the organization perceives its employees. Workforce surveillance entails email and internet monitoring, gathering of personal data, biometrics, local tracking as well as covert surveillance. Studies show that surveillance has been a part of organizational routine since time immemorial and that surveillance can take technological and social forms. There are varied reasons as to why companies would want to monitor their employees (Adams, et al. 200).

Technological advancement has over time revealed many loopholes through which valued company records such as client data can be accessed illegally. On the other hand, the Federal Trade Commission of the United States established the Safeguard Rules that seek to protect client information against any physical and technical threats so to retain confidentiality, integrity and privacy of such data. Most companies thus install surveillance systems to help them comply with the federal law since it is hard to trust every employee. Workforce surveillance also helps in protecting the organization against legal liabilities.

Monitoring facilitates for the individual protection of employees by eliminating or reducing any occurrence of harassment in the work force. Electronic surveillance has for instance enabled organizations to protect their assets, reduce misuse of company resources an in avoiding any legal liabilities. According to a 2001 work place surveillance and monitoring report by the American Management Association, 82% of organization use electronic surveillance and that close to 14 million employees in U. S are under surveillance (American Management Association, 2001). Some legal procedures have been put forward to justify surveillance.

The Defense Counsel Journal argues for surveillance by outlining employer rights for monitoring such as: work quality; use of the employer’s equipments; fraud and theft concerns; and the fact that the employee is within the company vicinity (Kirstie, 2010). Surveillance could have consequences on employees and some of the consequences could be detrimental to the organization. Surveillance can affect the work culture, the well being of employees, productivity, motivation and creativity. However, reasonableness is paramount in the whole process of workforce surveillance.

The question of respect for employee rights to privacy disqualifies surveillance to some extent such that the whole process seems to be unethical. Legal advisors note that it is extremely important that employees get to know that the surveillance is part of the company routine and that employee consent matter a lot. Reasonable monitoring and surveillance protects important company information, enhances compliance with federal law, protects employee rights, and improves productivity and the work environment. However, it is essential that organizations balance between their monitoring needs and employee privacy.

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