Keeping an Eye on Employees—the Do’s and Don’ts

By: Together Abroad 01-05-2016

Categories:* Ethics , ** HR daily news,

Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility

Employee activity can generally be monitored in two ways: directly—meaning in the office, or online—by means of their social media or Internet activity. Monitoring an employee in person should be done with the aim of determining whether that employee is using their time efficiently, often absent at their desk, or distracted by other online activities. An employer or organization can also monitor whether employees are using social media prudently, and not sharing information about the company that they should not be sharing.

Every organization carries the responsibility to determine how important they find it to be aware of their employee’s actions. Not every organization requires as much information as the other. Regardless of how much you want to monitor employees, however, it is advisable to always do so with these do’s and don’ts in mind.

DO keep an eye on employees…


This means involving your employees in the monitoring. If you have certain expectations for their behaviour, inform them of this soon after they take up their positions within your organization. Make sure to inform them of which social media activity you feel would reflect poorly on the organization, and what information they can share. There might be certain websites which employees are not allowed to access from company computers, or while in the office. Along with that information, you should inform them of the way in which you intend to keep track of whether they follow the guidelines. Preventing mishaps is more conducive than correcting your employee’s mistakes after they have been made.

In order to do all of this efficiently, you might want to consider adopting a clearly outlined privacy policy. With a policy to refer to, employees know what to expect, and any managers who might be responsible for the monitoring will know what they are allowed to do. This prevents conflicts.


Monitoring employees also involves keeping privacy laws in mind. If you are considering more drastic measures, such as implementing surveillance cameras, then make sure everything is done legally.

Keeping the relevant laws in mind also involves making sure employees feel that their privacy is being protected. Be aware of their boundaries, and allow some leeway in those areas of their lives that do not pertain to the company. Employees should also be granted their personal space during breaks, or during lunch hours. Remember that monitoring their activities should be done politely and with consideration to their boundaries.

DON’T keep an eye on employees…


If an employee, or a number of employees, ever expresses concern with an aspect of your privacy policy or your monitoring approach, do not immediately dismiss those concerns. Likewise, do not overlook how comfortable employees feel with the guidelines set for their behaviour. See if you can use any feedback received to adjust the policy and approach as you go along.


Any monitoring should be done on behalf of the organization, at the organization and under company guidelines. Additionally, it should be carried out by the right people. Do not encourage employees to monitor one another, or foster a company of mistrust.

If, for instance, you notice any questionable social media activity, handle this within the organization. Do not exchange messages personally. Likewise, it is reasonable to monitor Internet activity that employees partake in on company computers, during office hours. An employee’s phone, however, is a personal belonging, and its contents do not have to be made readily accessible to employers. Be aware of such boundaries.

By Barbara Haenan