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Monitoring Employees

Is Your Boss Watching You?


You think no one will notice if you just take a few minutes of your work day to do your online shopping. And those phone calls you make from the office—who cares about that? Let's not forget those jokes your buddies email to you. Your email is private—or is it? If you think no one is monitoring your online activity and phone use at work, it may be because no one told you they're doing it, or more likely, that you didn't read the policy your employer gave you when you started your job.

According to the 2007 Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey ( American Management Association and The ePolicy Institute) 66 % of all employers who responded to the survey monitor their employees' Internet connections at work. Forty-five percent monitor the time their employees spend on the phone and the numbers they call, 16 % record phone conversations and another 9 % monitor voicemail messages. Eighty-three percent of those employers that engage in electronic monitoring and surveillance, inform their employers that they are doing so in spite of the fact that only two states, Delaware and Connecticut, require them to.

So, is it right? Should employers use electronic monitoring to watch what you're doing? Well, let's look at it from your boss's point of view. According to Nancy Flynn, executive director of The ePolicy Institute, "Concern over litigation and the role electronic evidence plays in lawsuits and regulatory investigations has spurred more employers to monitor online activity. Data security and employee productivity concerns also motivate employers to monitor Web and e-mail use and content." (Press Release: 2007 Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey)

Okay. You got caught. Now what? You could lose your job. Twenty-eight percent of employers have dismissed individuals for e-mail misuse and 30% fired workers for misuse of the Internet.

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