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Workplace surveillance

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Workplace surveillance has become increasingly popular over the past few years, and there are now numerous methods that can be used to monitor employees, these include: * Hidden Cameras; * Keyboard Monitoring (counting keystrokes, eg. data-entry); * Undercover Workers (similar to spies); * Telephone and Email Monitoring; * Monitored Web Use; and * Monitoring Staff Locations (electronic locators). Over seventy five per cent of employees in the USA are being monitored in some form as they go about their daily routines (Serwer, 2003), many of who are unaware that the surveillance is even in place. This highlights the magnitude of workplace surveillance, yet its application is expected to grow significantly more in the near future. There are numerous reasons as to why workplace surveillance has become such common practice in the everyday workforce, mainly relating to employees being less productive, and in some cases behaving in an inappropriate or even illegal manner. Instead of monitoring only those employees who exhibit suspicious behaviour, many employers are instituting "continuous, systematic surveillance" (Schulman, 2003) in the workplace in order to identify any wrongdoing by all employees. This involves continually observing each employee's every move using techniques such as computer monitoring; which entails examining a workers use of a computer both during and after it is used. ...read more.


* Screen Shot Capture- SSPPYY can capture up to one screenshot per second or every number of minutes. Despite its frequent and effective use, workplace surveillance has raised quite a few concerns among different areas of the public. Privacy is the main issue in question, many employees feel as though their rights have been violated with such intrusion in their everyday lives. This has been an area of constant debate ever since workplace surveillance was first introduced, even today there is doubt as to whether specific aspects of workplace surveillance are considered legal or not. Last year, a well-known newspaper fired twenty-three employees for sending distasteful jokes through email (Segan, 2003). The company said the firings were necessary to maintain a harassment-free workplace. In spite of this there is a fine line between what is regarded as appropriate or inappropriate in an employee email. Consider the word "breast", if it is in reasonable proximity to "chicken", there is likely no problem, if it is in reasonable proximity to other words, it might not be so good. Privacy is an issue that affects not only employees but also prospective employees. Many companies require credit reports and engage in detailed public record searches on applicants before extending employment offers. This could be considered an invasion of privacy but according to reports, no legal protection is available to job seekers denied employment because they refused to submit a credit report (Glasner, 2003). ...read more.


In general the organisation will have computers operating on a network, which enables them to be monitored easily and without the worker knowing. In addition, video cameras and the recording of telephone conversations is common practice among many organisations. Workplace surveillance is here to stay. Regardless of the criticism it may receive, workplace surveillance is something that we must learn to live with and perhaps one day even accept that it is doing more good than harm in the long term. Having discussed the various methods of workplace surveillance currently available and the issues associated with their use, it is clear to see that the monitoring of employee's will continue to grow in the future. This is the result of fierce competition in the area of technology and in particular surveillance, which is ideal for employers as it keeps costs to minimum. Despite the potential obstacles, protection from increasingly intensive electronic surveillance of employees must be sought. At some point in the near future, more comprehensive regulation of workplace surveillance may be necessary and appropriate. This is particularly so since legislation is probably the only measure that would provide protection for each and every employee workers, including those not represented by organised labour. Workplace surveillance technology itself is also an area of constant advancement, continuous progression and innovation creates an environment in which every aspect of an organisation and its members can be monitored. ...read more.

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