Keeping your employees engaged and productive will often require monitoring their activity. Accordingly, the demand for employee monitoring software has increased as more companies hope to keep track of employee activity, especially as remote work becomes the norm.
From 2019 to 2022, the demand for employee monitoring software increased by 73%. There’s no question that employers want these solutions in their businesses. But launching and maintaining an employee monitoring policy isn’t always as simple as it seems. You have all kinds of factors to think about and elements to incorporate.
This is even more true when compliances protect employee privacy and rights. You can’t just start tracking employees’ online activity without the right parameters. That’s why you must learn the eight key elements that help create compliance-friendly employee monitoring policies.
What is an Employee Monitoring Policy?
An Employee Monitoring Policy is a set of rules and guidelines that a company establishes to define how and why it will monitor its employees' activities and behaviors in the workplace. This can include how a company will monitor:
- Computer usage
- Internet browsing
- Email communications
- Phone calls
- Video surveillance
- Location (i.e. with field teams and fleet management)
Companies implement such a policy to ensure workplace security or prevent theft or fraud. Moreover, it also increases productivity by reducing non-work-related activities, ensures the appropriate use of company resources, and maintains a professional environment.
Why Should Employee Monitoring Be Compliance-friendly?
Now, why should employee monitoring be compliance-friendly? Here are some compelling reasons.
Avoid Employee Anxiety
Some studies show that 59% of employees feel stress and anxiety when they have workplace surveillance. Keeping your employee monitoring policy compliance-friendly can help alleviate that stress by placing boundaries that will protect employee welfare.
Various laws and regulations govern employee privacy rights. Monitoring without proper compliance can lead to lawsuits, hefty fines, and damage to the company's reputation. A compliance-friendly policy ensures the company respects these laws and avoids potential legal pitfalls.
Trust and Transparency
When employees know the monitoring happens ethically, it fosters trust between management and team members. They're more likely to accept and respect the policy if they know it's in place to protect both them and the company.
Protecting Employee Rights
A compliant policy ensures monitoring doesn't infringe upon employees' personal and privacy rights. This creates a balance between the company's needs and the rights of its employees.
Compliance-friendly policies often emphasize data protection, ensuring that data collected is stored securely and not misused. This protects the company and the employees from potential breaches or misuse of sensitive information.
Clarity and Consistency
A well-defined, compliance-friendly policy provides clarity. Everyone knows what's expected, how monitoring is conducted, and why. This eliminates ambiguities and ensures consistent application across the board.
Positive Work Environment
Keep in mind that employee monitoring exists to help build workplace productivity. But this cannot happen without a positive work environment. It’s possible to have employee monitoring policies without micromanaging if we comply with privacy and security protocols.
Employees are more likely to be productive and engaged when they feel their rights are respected. A compliance-friendly monitoring policy contributes to a positive work environment, fostering mutual respect between employers and employees.
8 Key Elements of a Compliance-friendly Employee Monitory Policy
Employee monitoring is crucial for many businesses, not just for productivity but also for compliance reasons. There are key elements that help you create a compliance-friendly and effective employee monitoring policy.
Here are the 8 key elements of a compliance-friendly employee monitoring policy.
1. Purpose and Scope
There’s bound to be more buy-in when your company is clear about why you’re implementing an employee monitoring policy. Clearly state the reason for monitoring and be open and honest about it.
Is it for security, productivity, or possibly a mix of both? Define what will be monitored, whether it be emails, browsing history, or keystrokes. It's essential to be transparent about the objectives to prevent misunderstandings. This sets the foundation for the entire policy and ensures everyone understands its intent.
Transparency is key to keeping your company team members protected and comfortable when you have employee monitoring systems. Always inform employees that they're being monitored.
Surveilling without their knowledge can do more than lose trust. It can also lead to legal issues and damage your company’s reputation. Informing employees upfront ensures they know what's being monitored and why. It promotes an open, honest work environment and can deter potential policy violations.
Before running employee monitoring systems, you must get your team’s consent. That means obtaining some form of written consent from employees before monitoring. This protects the company legally and solidifies understanding between both parties.
Written consent will prove that employees know the monitoring and have agreed to it, minimizing potential disputes.
4. Data Protection
Any data you collect from your employees will become the company’s responsibility. You are obligated to keep that data safe from hackers and malicious entities. By all means necessary, safeguard the collected data.
Monitoring shouldn't compromise an individual's personal and sensitive information. Employ strong encryption methods and restrict access to only those who absolutely need it. Remember, the goal is not to invade privacy but to ensure compliance and security.
5. Limited Monitoring
There must be limits to what and when you monitor your employees’ activity. Companies and management teams must avoid 24/7 surveillance, which can violate employee codes. Even if you’re in the legal clear, having excessive monitoring can demotivate employees and cause a drop in productivity or even the likelihood of employee turnover.
Monitor only during working hours or when the need is justified. Constant monitoring can make employees feel like they're under a microscope, which can harm morale and trust. Balance is key here.
6. Data Retention and Deletion
Data you collect from employees doesn’t have to exist in your database forever. Doing so will only increase the risks of data leaks and your company’s costs, as these data will eat up storage that you will have to pay for.
Specify how long you'll keep the monitored data and the process for its deletion. Don't hold onto data indefinitely. Establish a reasonable timeline, after which the data should be securely erased. This protects employees' privacy and ensures the company isn't hoarding unnecessary data.
7. Rights to Access and Rectify
There will be times when monitoring will pick up false or inaccurate information. That said, having avenues for the team to rectify their data is okay. Allow employees to access the data you've collected on them. If they find any inaccuracies, provide a process to rectify them. This respects their rights and can also help in maintaining accurate records.
But when doing so, place parameters so your staff doesn’t end up manufacturing reports. Have clear chains of command when permitting these edits. Have a supervisor sign off before allowing any edits.
This is even more crucial when your employee monitoring tools pick up data that will affect financial decisions, such as payroll or employee expense monitoring. In these cases, it helps to have an accounting or finance staff to bounce off any rectifications.
Hire someone with an extensive finance background, or have your human resource team pick up additional training. Check out the most popular accounting degree online that they can easily complete.
8. Regular Review and Updates
Periodically review the monitoring policy to ensure it's up-to-date with the latest legal and technological changes. This proactive approach ensures the company remains compliant and adapts to evolving challenges.
Employee Monitoring Policies and Tools Protect the Company and Its People
An Employee Monitoring Policy serves as a vital tool in establishing this balance. While its primary goal is safeguarding the company's interests, it should never come at the cost of employee rights or privacy.
Ensuring compliance-friendly policy protects businesses from potential legal ramifications and fosters a culture of trust and transparency. This proactive approach enhances security and productivity and promotes a positive, respectful, and harmonious work environment.
As technology continues to evolve and redefine workplace dynamics, the principles of fairness, clarity, and respect embedded in a compliance-friendly monitoring policy will remain ever-relevant.