Free Reading 6.2 – Monitoring Employee Emails: Is There Any Room For Privacy? Essay Sample
Employers are generally free by law to read employee email messages, as long as there's a valid business purpose for doing so. Given this fact, nowadays, many companies reinforce these rights by adopting email policies telling employees that their email isn't private and that the company is monitoring their email messages. Some companies also ask their employees before hiring them to sign a form, acknowledging that their email isn't private. Even if one employer doesn't have an email policy, it still has the choice and legal right to read their employee’s email messages sent using its equipment and network.
At the very basis of the practice of employee monitoring stands the fact that the great majority of the personnel employed in a firm spends valuable work time for solving their personal duties or needs that are non-work related.
Activities such as bill paying, internet banking, shopping, visiting chat rooms, dating sites, gaming sites and even Adult web sites during the working day decrease an employee’s productivity, therefore it has an effect on the overall performance of a company. Moreover, employees that are accessing adult controversial or politically incorrect websites from the workplace can expose a company to complaints of racial, sexual, or other prohibited harassment. Furthermore, employees' use of the Internet at work can risk inadvertent disclosure of trade secrets, copyright violations, contamination of the company's computer system by viruses, and other hazards.
According to (Mello), the employers monitor their employee’s email for three main reasons. First of all, in order to protect the firm from liability risks that may arise. It is rather a „good-faith attempt to minimize the liability exposure” by checking up every data transmitted via this form of communication. Secondly, it represents an effective way to protect the company’s assets, controlling 2 types of risks. One of the risks is represented by the possibility to compromise a firm’s intellectual property or other intangible assets and the second risk is represented by excessive stress exercise by unauthorized use of the firm’s systems. E-mail monitoring makes sure that the network is not overcharged by personal use of this for of communication system as well as of the information that is transmitted via it. Last, but not least, it ensures job performance.
Even though such practices are somewhat beneficial for the companies who implemented them, monitoring should be kept to a minimum and in consistence with the „business necessity” or when needed in performance problems or deficiencies dealt with as part of the employer’s performance management system (Mello). Some consequences of the use of such measures may be the detrimental effect on the employee morale and loyalty as regarding the many hours spent working, there is not much free time left for them to solve their personal problems when not at work. There is the need to finding a solution to the lack of balance between time spent on working and the personal life of the employees if an employer is going to implement a monitoring system in their organization, as well as a well-built Code of Ethics regarding privacy and company matters.
The challenges faced by the employers who implemented email monitoring are of an ethical and a legal nature. Also, excessive or poorly implemented monitoring programs can become counterproductive. Reduced trust, openness and increased stress may be the unintended consequences of monitoring.
Taking in consideration all these factors, for the betterment of the organization, employers have to develop the most compatible monitoring system, in accordance with the company’s necessities and altogether with a Code of Ethics that both employees and the employer would be aware of, keeping in mind that trust is one of the core virtues of a high-performing working environments and privacy is a necessity in trusting relationships.
Mello, Jeffrey. Strategic Human Resource Management. 4th ed. Siena College, 2015. Print.
Mujtaba, Bahaudin. 'Ethical Implications Of Employee Monitoring: What Leaders Should Consider'. Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship n. pag. Web.
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