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Failure by employees to adhere to work ethics especially in the advent of Internet has led organizations to engage employee-monitoring activities. Where employees adhere to the professional code of conduct less challenges and problems in terms of bad conduct, scandals and conflicts are avoided in the work place. Security and Privacy have become synonymous with Internet use. Rarely can any one think of doing online transactions without first worrying about the twin issues of security, and privacy.
Internet security is particularly a tricky and complex phenomenon because of the lack of universality in implementation of various security policies and acts. Secondly, the advent of Internet as well as its ever-rising relevancy and popularity has caught many stakeholders including governments, software companies as well as regulatory agencies by surprise. At first, few would imagine that Internet could be used negatively by employees. However, this has in recent times become a reality and employee abuse of office resources can authoritatively be termed as one of the most dangerous crimes facing organizations today.
Finkin, 1995. Professionalism is the practical behavior portrayed in a place by both the employer and employee. Professionalism entails a number of characteristics key of which are the right focus towards the job, positive attitude and being goal oriented. Whether employee monitoring is professional behavior or not is very much debatable but definitely it is unfair for an employer to jump into secretly monitoring and surveying employees in the work place without their consent.
Once employees notice that, they are under surveillance they are likely to become irritated and betrayed. As much as employers’ have a right to take all measures possible to cut down costs of production especially by minimizing wastage, this should be applied up to agreeable limits without infringing on personal freedom. Professionalism involves display of interest in the job, good communication skills, work etiquette, accountability and commitment to teamwork.
If both the employer and employee adhere to professional conduct in their respective roles, incidences, which warrant surveillance, would significantly drop. In some instances, some employers rush into surveillance at the slightest provocation and sometimes the fear is not warranted at all. Majority of the organizations are rushing to install monitoring systems not because of security threats but rather because of technological evolution. S. Elizabeth, 1998.
Their argument is valid bearing in mind that many organizations are keen to embrace modern information technology for the sake of public relations as opposed to warranted situations. Revolution in information technology has impacted on professionalism in that employers are more likely to overlook the professional aspect of a decision in favor of technological advantage, which comes with the kind of decision. Interestingly, many managers do not carry out studies to establish the employees’ attitudes towards such a decision before making those decisions. Privacy.
Privacy can be defined as the personal interests touching on the individual’s right to personal space, whereby freedom from interference is guaranteed by the state or the organizations one works for. Hunt, 1984. Privacy of personal communication in the work place is jeopardized when an individual’s communications is tempered with, therefore curtailing the freedom of communication of the individual. The most common way this occurs in organizations is whereby the employer or management tracks and accesses employee communication otherwise not meant or directed to them.
This occurs when employers use modern technology such as electronic surveillance to hack employees’ private information. A recent business survey on the extent of electronic surveillance in work places in US established a growing trend of employers in many corporate organizations using modern technologies to hack employees’ private information. This is alarming especially when it is coming in the wake of employee concerns about the advent of one being surveilled against their wish all day long.
The prospect of gathering and sharing information amongst departments in organizations has made it easy to conduct business while at the same time cutting cost of communication dramatically. According to current research findings, it is approximated that most companies save up to 20 percent of operational costs by embracing modern technology. Finkin,1995. This is a significant amount of revenue considering that businesses exist to make profits by embracing effective and efficient technology.
This leaves no doubt that effort to embrace information technology as long as it is applied in the right way is welcome. Despite the ranging debate on the right of employees to privacy, the employers seem to justify their action and every step of it. Before the advent of surveillance technology in the local organizations, the existence of employee theft especially in retail companies and in some key departments in organizations was a common occurrence. Finkin, 1995.
Employers monitor employees for three major reasons; one legal liability, security, and productivity. All the three reasons put forward seem to be justifiable reasons but there is a need for legislation to govern the process for such legal framework lacks in most of the organizations. Majority of the big organizations in USA have adopted monitoring as way of ensuring security and not mainly for surveillance of employees. The latter is not a priority but employers cite it as a good deterrent to those employees who may want to misuse company property.
Although the main purpose put forward for the introduction of the monitoring system was for the purposes of detecting crime, it is worthy mentioning that employers do use evidence garnered from the cctvs in apprehending workers for gross misconduct in the work place. McWhirter, 1989. In conclusion, it is not fair for an employee to oppose being monitored while he/she continues to act unprofessionally in the workplace. No employer will risk their business at the expense of employee privacy. It is therefore worthy noting that, depending on the situation, monitoring employees can be justified as long as it makes business sense.