The boss is watching

07/09/2014 11:32 AM

07/16/2014 12:51 PM

If it seems like employers don’t trust employees … well, they don’t. Bad apples in the workplace bunch — or simply fear of bad apples — have pushed many employers to use an array of employee tracking devices.

GPS equipment on vehicles tells where route workers are at any given moment. Computer software tracks every website visited and blocks some of them. Video cameras watch comings and goings. Supervisors listen in on customer phone calls.

The workplace today is something of a Big Brother world. Workers shouldn’t assume a right to privacy. On company computers, phones or vehicles, there is no right to do what you want when you want.

And that makes perfect sense, says Ivory Thompson, operations manager of Retina-X, the parent company of the aptly named Mobile Spy. It’s a software brand used by employers to monitor employees’ online activity.

“Employers want to make sure their employees are doing what they’re supposed to do, that they’re not giving away trade secrets,” Thompson said in an interview. “It’s also for productivity purposes.”

No surprise there. With staffing cut to the bone in many organizations, employers want to make sure everyone on payroll pulls the intended weight.

Product vendors such as Thompson, human resource experts and employment law attorneys all recommend that employees be clearly informed about whatever monitoring is used.

“Employees should sign off on it when they’re hired,” Thompson said, and employee manuals should explain the monitoring and use policies.

For the record, here’s Mobile Spy’s list of the top 10 industries for employee monitoring: banking and finance; software development; information technology; education; logistics and call centers; hotels and hospitality; hospitals and health care; engineering; law; and insurance.

To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send email to stafford@kcstar.com. Follow her online at kansascity.com/workplace and on Twitter @KCStarStafford.

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