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Is it OK to spy on employees?

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posted on May, 4 2011 @ 02:00 PM

Originally posted by AnteBellum

My discussion is based on the moral/ethical stance an employer, such as myself, would have in letting such a system be put in place to begin with.

This is where leadership comes into play. You will see most of the time where if the leadership of an organization is exceptional and the management are very well trained as leaders, then this is usually not an issue as everyone on staff would fully understand their roles and responsibilities and would work together as a unit.

For organizations that have weak leadership, as with a vast majority of American businesses, it is these sorts of "moral/ethical" issues arise.

posted on May, 4 2011 @ 02:15 PM
reply to post by AnteBellum

AnteBellum i think the only employees who do not think their every move is not monitored already is either naive or ignorant. privacy in the workplace does not exist IMHO.

my last employer was a medical x ray film company based in Japan. although management did not take the polite route to inform wageslaves that we were monitored on hidden (barely, obvious) cameras, audio recorded, computer keyboard keystroke logged and telephone logged, monitored & recorded, all these things existed.

this is not paranoia. i was far up enough 'in the ranks' and was there 13 years. after a while there are no secrets. in this particular film company less than a handful of executives were from Japan (in the USA headquarters where i worked). all the people who were involved in so-called Big Brother activities let it slide that there was no expectation of privacy at that workplace.

that paled in comparison to when i worked for the now-defunct Business Communications Corporation division of ITT. they had people that would monitor employees in the field. more than one time we had a well-paid executive fired on the spot for shooting off his mouth after a few Scotchs in a hotel lounge. even off the clock they felt their employees were representing the company. zero tolerance for a tired suit & tie who has not seen his wife & children for three weeks that is letting off a little steam in public? you betcha!

PS: i was a little surprised at your comment about having friends work for you. you must have excellent people skills; that can be very tricky maintaining the balance between buddy & boss. i admire someone that can do that

posted on May, 4 2011 @ 02:24 PM
Not trying to kill your thread. I argued the case against it in D.C.
As with any issue there are people who abuse any system.
I had an engineer I worked with, I was in L.A. he was in Chicago.
He was fast, knowedgable, accurate,and friendly, everthing you would expect out of an employee.
The problem was he loved porn.
I'm sure you know , you can be logged into different sites at once and have several windows open.
Well he was, the data showed he was logged into a porn site for his whole 8 hour shift.
I worked with the guy almost everyday, so I know for a fact he was not looking at porn all day.
He was fired. The point is you may not like what you find and you better adminster it equally because of law suits, because employees know better than the Boss whos doing what on their computers.
Morally and ethically it's not right and neither is abusing a companys resources, you won't like what you find, and making a judgement call will be tougher.
Good luck.
edit on 4-5-2011 by OLD HIPPY DUDE because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 4 2011 @ 02:29 PM
Your servers, your rules. It's not like you're going to put cameras in the washrooms, which IS illegal.

posted on May, 4 2011 @ 02:34 PM
reply to post by intrepid

It works both ways.
If i work in the feild and my employer does not provide me with a radio, cell phone or a text pager , he better not expect me to answer my personal cell phone any time he calls.

posted on May, 4 2011 @ 02:38 PM
reply to post by OLD HIPPY DUDE

Why? What makes you different from anyone else? Cell is all I have. They have my #. I'm a union steward as well. What's the beef? I don't see one. Not one that I could argue with management.

posted on May, 4 2011 @ 02:46 PM
Thats your choice.
I would check the facts with your company and union.
Any responsable companys provides on call employee with a cell phone and/or a text pager.
Why should you pay for the service ?
I hope you are getting "on call" pay .

posted on May, 4 2011 @ 02:48 PM
Personally, I think business owners are being irresponsible if they do not monitir their employees on company computers. Of course it is OK and also, if it were me, I would feel under no obligation to conform they were being monitored. I would put in the new hire contract subject to monitoring, and be done with it. Nothing wrong with it, it is called CYA.

posted on May, 4 2011 @ 02:54 PM
reply to post by hotbakedtater

Easy to say it's ok. But where do you draw the line ?
Thats where the meat of the issue is.
Let's hear it.

posted on May, 4 2011 @ 02:57 PM
reply to post by AnteBellum

I have worked at several companies that do this. If so, develop a detailed "Terms of Use" form that each employee must read and sign, because if you don't have that in place, and try to fire someone because of invalid use of technology, they will own your company.

posted on May, 4 2011 @ 03:13 PM
reply to post by matadoor

I agree.
But the facts are companys put a stack of papers in front of new hired people to "protect the company"
1. most employees don't read it.
2. most employees don't understand it.
3. All employees know if you don't sign you don't have a job.
4. It is legal and binding.

posted on May, 4 2011 @ 03:15 PM
reply to post by OLD HIPPY DUDE

If management does not trust their employees, then they will monitor.
If management does trust their employees, then they will not monitor.

This has been the case in my experience. As I said in an earlier post, it comes down to the leadership of the organization. The line is drawn where ever the effectiveness of leadership stops. Piss poor management, makes for piss poor employees.

posted on May, 4 2011 @ 03:23 PM
reply to post by Skewed

I agree. But it's not always the case.
Its alot cheaper to fire an employee than it is to lay them off.
And it makes it easer to weed out the bad ones.
There are bad apples in every barrel even in management. There are no exemptions. Be real. Does anyone really trust anyone else now adays ?
edit on 4-5-2011 by OLD HIPPY DUDE because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 4 2011 @ 04:03 PM

Originally posted by AnteBellum
I have a great relationship with all my workers considering most if not all of them friends. My feelings are if I didn't trust them, I wouldn't have hired them.

I experienced a similar situation. I worked with a team of people who were all friends. Then the business sold to a man who tracked everything that everyone did at every moment. Everyone was outraged. And then he caught the following things:
1) people building websites for other people
2) people working on their own businesses
3) people playing online games (not just during lunch, lol)
4) embezzlement in the form of kick-backs, overly large bonus checks, and decisions based upon what would garner the employee the most income rather than what was best for the business and all of the employees as a whole.

These findings destroyed team trust, morale, work culture and, eventually, the business. It never recovered from this blow. However, one has to look at how things developed this way to begin with. Did it stem from an overly permissive culture? Or hiring "friends" whom received unwavering trust at all times? Lack of checks and balances and accountability of every action, regardless of who was performing the actions?

Feeling the need to watch and record every movement of an employee, seems like a symptom of a greater issue (possibly with the leadership and structure) rather than a solution.

The internal work culture of a business is key to the specific results which you want. People do need a certain latitude to make decisions on your behalf in their day to job performance, or to simply reset their brain by taking a break. If they can't make decisions on their own then you may as well be doing everything yourself, which obviously is unproductive in a large business. But it has to be managed with boundaries and accountability or it all turns to poop. And people can not have free reign. You can not expect another human being to hold your dream and your risk in the same regard as if it were their own. And it is unfair to ask them to. You must always check in to insure that decisions are matching your vision and your goals.

All of the people, in this situation, got off track a little at a time. None of them started out as evil entities, nor do I believe that they intended to do such horrific things. They were just given too much trust and not enough accountability and leadership.

I have to say though, this has put me in a moral/ethical situation. Years ago I worked for a firm in which they did record screen shots and during lunch I was playing solitaire. I was called in and received a warning for such behavior even though I was on lunch

This, which you posted above, is the danger of taking policy or paranoia too far. If it goes too far, pretty soon the entire culture of the people and the day to day goals all become geared around "catching" people out and distrust of each other. Instead of a cohesive team and business, you end up with a dysfunctional bunch of miserable people who's entire goal is to just get through their day and get the heck out of there. That's not where a business owner wants the focus of the people who determine how successful said business becomes.

There is a difference between structure/boundaries/accountability versus paranoia and destructive micro management.

Hope that helps and I don't envy your position or the decisions you need to make.

posted on May, 4 2011 @ 04:06 PM

Originally posted by OLD HIPPY DUDE

I agree. But it's not always the case.

And this is because people try to make the world black and white. The world is not black and white and a good number of people cannot tell the difference.

posted on May, 4 2011 @ 04:49 PM
reply to post by idunno12

Thank you for taking the time to answer, along with the rest of you.

After reading all your thoughts and briefly speaking to my colleague I don't think this is going to be as big an issue as it may be for a larger company or until we expand (if we expand). There are 32 of us and 18 are on computers all day long, the rest is on an as need basis which isn't really required for what they need to do day to day.
If we institute this new policy into our structure I will of course put it in the company handbook, which like someone stated - nobody reads. I will also personally explain to everyone what and why we are switching to this new monitoring system. Just because we have it, doesn't mean I necessarily need to enforce it, unless the situation calls for it, as in theft of files or design concepts. Our financial system is isolated to one computer with limited access to 4 individuals, 2 of which are myself and my partner. So this isn't a concern either.
I think just letting the entire office know it is being done will leave the decision making up to themselves as to what is appropriate or not.
I am pretty laid back and my affiliate is more the enforcer type so this check and balance, good cop/bad cop approach has worked for us before and will hopefully continue in the future. I work hard and play harder so my tendency is to give leniency where it is due, as in unrestricted internet access. When the work needs to be done, it gets done and it gets done right so if they feel the need to blow off some steam on the internet I don't have a problem regardless what it is, child porn excluded!
Interesting though, this will all start to change if we get larger. . .
Thanx everyone, if you have anything else I would still like to debate this issue some more.

posted on May, 4 2011 @ 04:50 PM
IDUNNO 12 just gave the best case , well said.
Management has the power to control the image and mood it wishs to project not only to it's employees but it's customers.

posted on May, 4 2011 @ 04:58 PM
reply to post by AnteBellum

Whether they read the provisions of your policy or not, you are basically protected.

But, you need to put one in place, because the first time someone has porn on their screen, and someone who is offended by it sees it, then THEY will be suing you for not having a policy in place to "protect them".

Been there, had it happen to my division, got the merit badge to prove it.

posted on May, 4 2011 @ 05:31 PM
Regardless of reason its never o.k to spy on people .. Thats part of the problem with the world today - too many damn busybodies running around poking noses where they dont belong. A good employer trusts and has faith in their employees to do a good job . Just as employees are obligated to be honest and work hard. Unfortuneatly both are rare to find in todays world..

posted on May, 4 2011 @ 05:34 PM
Even companies that don't use technology to monitor employees have rumor mills. There is always one 'yes-man' that will inform the boss of every indiscretion, in hopes of being the last one to get the ax.

It should be a two way street. If a company wants to monitor an employee's actions then the employees should have carte blanche to observe and pass judgment on the company and their supervisor's activities as well. (without fear of reprisal)

Lets see those tax records and credit card receipts shall we...

It seems fair only if a double-standard isn't being upheld.

(So it's not okay for employees to look at porn OTJ, but when there's a big conference to attend no expense is spared on liquor and executive escort services.)

Ownership holds the prerogative.

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