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How Much Monitoring of Employee Video Communications is too Much?

11 October 2017
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Employee video communications solve many problems for organizations and company leaders, but what happens when monitoring employees using this technology goes too far?

There’s nothing wrong with a company monitoring employee video communications. Some of the very valid reasons an employer might want to do this include:

  • Making sure employees aren’t misusing company property
  • Protecting security concerns
  • Quality control of services, processes, and products
  • In case of a claim against the company
  • Ensuring that work time is spend working
  • Prioritizing employee time and workload
  • Improving systems for internal video communications

While it’s a good idea to monitor your employees, there may come a point where your company is going overboard. If you’re wondering how much monitoring is too much, here are some signs to watch out for.

You’re losing money monitoring employee video communications

If you have the budget to monitor your company’s employee communications 24/7, then you’re in the clear. However, if you’re working for a company with less of a budget or are using pricier technology to monitor employee video communications then you might want to cut back a bit.

Losing money doesn’t just refer to buying and using expensive equipment to monitor employee video communications. Your time is also worth money, and every hour you spend checking on what your employees do is an hour you’re not spending making yourself and your company money. A good rule of thumb is to get a trusted assistant to perform this task, or to pick and choose what needs to be monitored so it doesn’t consume your work day.

You’re overstepping legal boundaries when monitoring employee video communications

Employers have a lot of legal precedent when it comes to monitoring their employees. Courts have a long history of recognizing that employers have the right to protect their business interests by keeping tabs on what their employees are doing. This law is very clear when it comes to phone calls, emails, and web histories on business-owned computers.

However, the world of work is changing and more employees are starting to work from home on their personal devices every day. When do you have the right to monitor employee communications on an employee’s personal device?

The easiest course of action is to buy all employees company-owned equipment. This isn’t always possible, especially if your company works with remote workers or freelancers, so another tactic you can take is having a clearly defined policy in place to cover this. This policy can say something along the lines of ‘Company X reserves the right to install X software and monitor all activity on any devices used for work purposes by employee X between the hours of X and X.’

I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. All of your employee video communications policies should be spelled out clearly in a handbook the employee signs, and it would be in your best interests to run that handbook by a lawyer.

Your company monitoring employee video communications is causing morale issues

If your employees are generally satisfied with their jobs it’s very unlikely that they will object to their communications being monitored. Explaining to your employees what you’ll be monitoring and why will create a transparency that builds trust. After all, most people understand they give up a certain amount of privacy when entering the workplace.

Despite this, there can be a point where monitoring becomes excessive and that will begin to erode trust and degrade morale. There’s no need to broadcast that you’re monitoring employee video communications all the time by pointing out private things you’ve seen as an example. While your employees know you’re checking up on them, if you make a show of it, they’ll start to wonder if you trust them at all.

On another note, how employees react to news that their video communications are being monitored will speak volumes about the health of your company. If there is a great work environment and a good relationship between all levels it shouldn’t cause problems. If the staff suddenly becomes sullen or secretive, it’s time to take stock of your company’s overall health and employee engagement.

What do you think about all this? Does your company monitor employee video communications? Do you wish they did? Don’t forget to comment and share this on social media!

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Elizabeth Woodard

Liz Woodard is an office veteran who's fascinated by office dynamics and believes that applied behavioral psychology can go far towards managing a company well. Find her at http://www.lizwoodard.com/.

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