Is it ethical for Organizations to Monitor Employees?

Is it ethical for companies to monitor employees? It’s a question that many people are asking themselves these days, and there are likely to be differing opinions on the subject.

Some believe that companies should not monitor their employees as they do not have the right to invade privacy. In contrast, others argue that monitoring can effectively prevent company secrets from being leaked or stolen.

As per Gartner, 16% of employers use employee scheduling software to monitor their employees’ activity.

So let’s Get Started.

Ethical and Unethical Concerns For Employee Monitoring

Monitoring employees in secret
In the past, employee monitoring was a practical way to ensure that information didn’t leak from inside a company. In most cases today, employers who monitor employees without their knowledge or consent can get into significant trouble.

With high-tech surveillance and hacking, it may not be as easy to monitor employees without their knowledge in today’s modern world.
Many people argue that companies already have too much access to the personal data of their customers and clients.
Employees feel betrayed by employers they trust with all aspects of life, only to learn later how they are monitored.
It can even ultimately lead to the breakdown of a company as it causes staff morale and productivity levels to drop.

The most excellent way to avoid this is by always having your employees aware of employee scheduling software. If possible, create a policy including consent forms that will explain in detail what you monitor and where it’s stored (i.e., company servers).

Monitoring employees outside of working hours
The after-hours monitoring of employees is a massive problem in the work-from-home environment. Plus, it’s not uncommon for employees to use their laptops when on break or at the end of shift, and if you’re using employee monitoring software during these hours, you can get yourself into trouble.

The most excellent way to avoid this is to either allow employees to turn off their trackers while they’re on a break and at home or prohibit the usage of company-owned laptops for personal use.

Collecting personal data through monitoring software
With employee scheduling software, you can take screenshots of your employees’ computers and record their keystrokes. You might not want to do this because it means collecting personal data about when they’re browsing social media or banking sites which could be considered inappropriate.

The most excellent way to avoid this is by capturing limited screenshots by using software that will allow only work-related applications & websites. Also, it goes the same for all other intrusive features, so you can use such productivity software to keep an eye on employee work-related activity.

Collecting data but not for business improvement.
The ethical use of employee monitoring software is a lot more than simply the ways you collect data from employees. It also involves how they’re being used. Like, If you are using it for business improvement, then it’s okay. But if you are using it like other things(spying on your employees), you are wasting your time.

So, don’t just monitor your employees, have a plan for what you want to get out of it. Figure out why you are observing them in the first place and set up some goals with data collection.

For instance, if you are using productivity software, make sure that you track the daily time they spend for work and then utilize that data to increase employee productivity.

Major Ethical Consequences of Employee Monitoring

Breach of Privacy and Personal Data
Monitoring employees without their consent is an invasion of privacy. Not only is it against company policy, but some people feel that monitoring employees’ personal lives means you’re not respecting them as individuals.

Even if they violate your policies (like lying about sick days), using technology to monitor what they do outside of work may be crossing a line. Some companies choose to draw a line between life and work, while others expect workers to separate life from work.

So, when in doubt, get permission first. This way, everyone’s clear and respectful of each other’s boundaries and rules. It also ensures no one feels like they’ve been spied on or treated unfairly or disrespectfully at work—which can build morale and improve productivity at little cost.

Reduces Employee Morale and Trust
It can be intimidating for employees when they know their actions are being monitored, mainly if there isn’t transparency in collecting or using data.

According to Cisco, monitoring can make employees feel like they aren’t trusted.

This loss of trust can result in an inability of an employee to perform at optimal levels, hurting their productivity and potentially your bottom line.

Moreover, if workers don’t trust that your organization will protect them against unfair treatment, why would they bother working hard on your behalf?

Most importantly, maintaining open communication with employees about what kind of surveillance you’re conducting—and why—is vital for keeping morale high.

So, if you have a transparent process in place for gathering feedback from workers about whether these programs are helpful or not, then chances are good that it won’t undermine trust.

Tips to Maintain Employee Monitoring Ethics

Create a Standard Employee Monitoring Policy
The initial step to ethical employee monitoring is creating a detailed policy with your company’s help. Here are some things you should include:

=> Reasons why you will be tracking employees; what tools/solutions can you use?

=> What will you monitor; emails and private messages, workscreens (for example, their computer screen), social media account updates, or browsing history.

=> Type of monitor you will use audio, video, or digital monitoring.

=> Show the number of hours you will monitor, like whether it be working hours or after that.

Adhere to Country and State Laws
While creating an employee monitoring policy, you must follow the national and state labor and privacy laws to avoid extensive unethical issues. For instance, an employer can monitor their employees’ company devices in the US, but checking their emails is a big NO.

Help Employees Understand the Need for Monitoring
Before you can monitor their actions, employees must understand your expectations and why they’re essential. Explain what you’re monitoring and why, be clear about how it will help them do their jobs better, and invite input from everyone on what data is most valuable.

Doing so will make compliance with company policies less like a burden and more like a value-added feature of work life.

Use a Secure Employee Monitoring and Productivity Tool
Using efficient monitoring tools like employee scheduling software can give organizations actionable information they otherwise might not have had. For example, companies that closely monitor their employees’ work hours and productivity can be aware of discrepancies in hours worked.

Similarly, if an employee uses social media during work hours, an organization can use an employee monitoring tool to be aware of their online behavior. Thus, using tools in such a way will not violate any ethical laws and instead boost employees’ productivity.

Final Take

So it was all about whether it’s ethical to monitor employees or not. By following the steps to maintain this type of monitoring, you’ll be able to reap all the rewards that come with it.

For instance, by using an efficient tool like employee scheduling software or social media monitoring tools that don’t violate any laws and boost productivity, your organization can see improvements in morale and trust among employees at little cost.

So, which step has been most valuable for you? Let us know, plus what other needs we should address related to your query.

Direct Marketing 101: A Beginners Guide To Getting More Leads (I Mean a Lot More)

Getting more leads is actually quite a basic thing. There are only a couple of ways to do it. And they are all effective in growing businesses. Most of the time when I talk to clients they are not really doing everything they can in order to maximise the return on their lead generation investment.

So here are three ways I look to get myself and my clients more leads:

Lead Generation Opportunity #1: Make your existing lead generation convert more.

This should be the first port of call. Many marketers and business owners don’t really get this right.

It is very easy to increase the conversion rate of your existing lead generation. For many businesses it isn’t that hard to double the traffic they are getting from Google AdWords without spending any extra budget.

The same applies to most other advertising media.

Using broadcast fax (legal here in Australia) I’ve been able to 4X response rates to marketing of my own business – using a very simple strategy that most businesses can use but will never bother to use. It’s not that hard to be honest.

Getting a professional copywriter in to do this sort of work will have its rewards.

Once You’ve squeezed what you can out of conversion, it’s on to step 2.

Lead Generation Opportunity #2: Adding More Media:

Once you have maximised the return on your existing media the next port of call is to start adding more media. If you have a pre-existing lead conversion mechanism this is just ‘money for jam.’ Get the media started get it tested and optimised and you know sales will pop out the end of your lead conversion mechanism in due course.

It’s that easy.

There is a mountain of available media for almost every worthwhile market – so as long as you selected a market that is worthwhile, you can expand your lead generation media quickly and effectively to meet your lead generation goals.

Lead Generation Opportunity #3: Working Your Already Generated Leads!

For all but the most sophisticated marketing operations this represents a massive opportunity. Building marketing systems akin to an assembly line that systematically progress existing leads at their own pace to raise their hand ready to buy.

If you don’t have this in place, your business is relegated to perpetually hunting for fresh leads and working those cold leads as though they were hot.

Wealth and stability in business can be traced more to the accumulation of a database of leads that are being systematically worked all the time for fresh opportunities than any other business activity.

What Recent Holiday Retailer Traffic Tells Us About Affiliate Marketing

For anyone marketing online, it probably comes as no surprise that 2013 was another banner year when it came to holiday retail spending/buying on the web. The major leading digital business analytics firm comScore reports that between November 1st and December 31st – over $46.5 billion was spent by online shoppers. They also reported the two busiest days were Cyber Monday and the day following it, with a total of $3.15 billion spent.

For those like me who are heavily into affiliate marketing, this is one of the best times to rack up sales and earn commissions. Shoppers are simply in the right mindset to buy, and more of them are now purchasing their items and gifts online. Affiliate marketers have to take advantage of this “feeding frenzy” and get their sites or affiliate links to the forefront with extra advertising, more content creation and timely posts.

Like past years, this is the time to do that extra advertising and increase your spending. This year I did a press release each day via PRWeb during the weeks around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I have always found it beneficial to create content that’s directly related to these shopping days, heavily promoting any discount coupons and deals from the companies which I promote with my sites. This also creates links/rankings for vital keywords in Google News and Yahoo News around those special holiday shopping events.

However, I just don’t concentrate on the search engines, I also increased my Facebook ads and Tweets to make sure I was receiving traffic from social media sites. Just like other online marketers, Google’s Panda and Penguin updates have taught me never to rely solely on just search engine traffic, it can all disappear in the blink of an eye.

That said, it should come as no surprise to anyone that 40% of traffic to retailers this holiday season, came from search engines according to Experian, a marketing services company. Apparently this traffic was down by 13% from last year, perhaps because many shoppers are using Google paid product ads to find the items they want. One also has to factor in the growing influence of social networking platforms and forums on the delivery of online traffic.

Affiliate marketers must also take advantage of these social networks with branded Twitter feeds and at least a Facebook Fan page. Highly targeted ads on Facebook can pay off, and many marketers are reporting good results. For me personally, I didn’t find my FB ads as effective at driving large amounts of traffic as press releases or even the search engines – at least not directly from Facebook but I have seen an increase in direct traffic to my site. This kind of traffic is really hard to judge, but it’s probably coming from more exposure of my brand on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Done properly, one’s social media’s fan/follower/subscriber base should be a year round marketing project, building up loyal fans with relevant posts and informative content. After all, during this holiday season, one report shows a 39% jump in traffic coming from these upstream social networks and anyone doing affiliate marketing online can’t ignore these numbers. On Facebook especially, what has really worked well for me is offering handy free guides/videos to get potential buyers onto my lists and into my marketing funnels. Since everything is based on the “sharing” of content, this content can’t be too commercial, or it will turn people off instead of on to your brand.

Experian also reports that discount coupons are losing favor with the buying public, but I would have to disagree with their findings. Then again, I am a little biased because I have effectively used discount coupons in my affiliate marketing for over 10 years. During the peak holiday shopping days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, my promoted companies offer some of the best deals of the year and this is reflected in higher sales. Potential customers are also looking for the best deals at this time, and the affiliate marketer must take advantage.

While all this marketing may make you feel like a used car dealer wannabe, I have always thought of this as a “win-win” situation where the customer gets a great deal and the affiliate earns a small commission. From the beginning, I have always put the emphasis on providing valuable content first and the coupons/discounts as a follow-up or a bonus. If you’re an affiliate marketer and you’re not offering a coupon or discount – just keep in mind, many shoppers (online and off) are postponing their holiday buying until they see these great deals and what discounts each merchant is offering.

If you’re not gearing your online marketing to these special discounts, you may be leaving a lot of sales on the table or for other marketers to acquire. During the holiday shopping season, I simply make sure my subscribers/followers/fans know about these great bargains and we both walk away smiling. And as the above statistics show, more and more customers are turning to online retailers to get the items and gifts they want for the holidays. Affiliate marketers must simply follow the money if they want to survive in this very competitive game.