Modern Technology For Employee Monitoring And Surveillance Argumentative Essay Sample

Type of paper: Argumentative Essay

Topic: Workplace, Employee, Ethics, Monitoring, Theory, Cyber Crimes, Surveillance, Company

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/12/13

Workplace monitoring and surveillance is a sensitive issue which raise many ethical concerns. However due to the increasing use of technology for fraudulent purposes as well as cyber terrorism, there is a dire need for developing means to assessing threats within the workplace and their immediate elimination. This paper aims to highlight the importance of workplace monitoring and surveillance as well as determine the various methods and technologies which can be used for this purpose. It will also cover the various ethical concerns raised by employees and how these concerns can be put to rest by responsible employers.

Workplace Monitoring

Workplace monitoring refers to the surveillance of employees by employers in order to assure efficiency and regulated workflow in the workplace. The use of modern technology in order to accomplish this makes the process not only streamlined for the employers but also more professional for the employees.

Ethical Dilemma Raised Due to Workplace Monitoring

However, some employees do not feel that employers reserve the right to surveillance in the workplace. There is a considerable amount of debate between employers and employees over the ethical dilemma posed by this issue. Employees take a stance that they reserve the right to their privacy in the workplace and hence do not vouch for workplace surveillance. The use of modern technologies to track their “digital footprint” through monitoring their emails, telephone calls and GPS systems is a concern for employees as they feel that their privacy is invaded by the use of software which enables employers open access to these things. There are also other concerns attached to workplace monitoring which include the development of anxiety, depression, stress and other mental health related issues due to constant monitoring (Weckert, 2004; (Martin & Freeman, 2003).
While the concerns of the employees are valid, companies and businesses have a right to be alert in order to eliminate possible risks and threats to their business as well. This is why the debate is a sensitive one and this issue must be analyzed carefully in order to advocate for either of the causes.
The development of modern technology and the exploration of computer science towards broader avenues have given birth to various negative implications as well. The internet has become a means to cyber fraud as well as cyber terrorism which all companies and businesses want to steer clear of. This is one of the biggest reasons why they heavily advocate for the right to monitor employees as a means of protecting themselves and their businesses. Many companies out of fear of sexual harassment suits by one employee against another or against the company also maintain strict surveillance policies.

Workplace in Terms of Ethical Theories

This ethical dilemma can be analyzed in terms of two ethical theories. Firstly, we need to look at it from the perspective of the deotongical theory. This refers to an ethical theory which depends mostly on the entire nature of an action rather than its consequences. As mentioned above, the dilemma is one which must be analyzed by keeping both the sides in perspective. To do that we must keep in mind the fact that monitoring at the workplace is an issue which in its truest nature concerns both the parties.
The other theory in terms of which this dilemma can be analyzed is the virtue based theory. This theory aims to look at a certain problem, while keeping in perspective the virtue and interests of the people involved. This theory is vital in this case because it allows further, closely analyze the interests of both the employers and the employees. Let us look at the solutions to this issue while keeping in mind these theories.

Resolutions for Workplace Monitoring in Terms of Ethical Theories

Employers need to make certain that they do not violate their employees’ personal space and privacy while they monitor their activities. The first step is by informing their hired personnel of the fact that they are being monitored. This ensures vigilance on the employees’ parts and makes them cautious of their activities at the workplace. Special work related e-mail addresses can be assigned to employees on special database software which ensures the use of only these email IDs while the employees are at the workplace. Restricted access to other websites can help eliminate the fear of employees using other emails to slack off or harass other employees. These moves tie in with the virtue based theory as it aims to put the virtue of both the parties in perspective satisfactorily. Specialized cell phones can be assigned to employees which the employers can monitor through software when they are at work. These can be used by the employees without the fear of having their private calls being tracked or fearing the invasion of privacy. Since this is a sensitive issue, the responsibility on the employers’ shoulders is greater than that on the employees. There should be clear company policies on the type of files or software which can be downloaded on the companies’ servers and in case of non-compliance, employers can restrict access to these services. Employers must regularly communicate to the employees that they are being monitored, however not in a threatening way through memos, booklets or during purpose based meetings. Employers have a larger responsibility to make certain that the employees feel comfortable in the workplace in order to maximize workplace efficiency. Trust between the two parties can be enhanced when employers inform their hired personnel of the applications used to monitor them, how they function and what are the limitations of these applications. This is necessary step which must be taken in order to make employees feel safe and protected at the workplace. Employees complain of stress, depression and often anxiety due to constant surveillance which is why companies and businesses must ascertain that employees do not feel pressurized or burdened in any way. There should be a HR (Human Resources) department which should ensure healthy communication between the employers and the employees.
Employees on the other hand have various responsibilities to uphold in order to make certain that monitoring and surveillance does not become a problem for them. While their fears and concerns are justified, it is necessary for them to comply to the arrangements made by the employers’ as long as they are assured that their personal privacy will not be undermined in any way. Employees need to understand that these security measures are not just created for the safety of the employers but also their safety from possible threats within the workplace environment. They should raise concerns with their company’s authorities regarding anything that they feel violates the terms of their arrangements and violates their privacy. The HR department should be contacted in case employees feel that they are being pressurized to work harder under the mask of surveillance. These solutions are derived by keeping the virtue based theory in mind from the side of both the employers as well as the employee.

Solutions in Light of Globalization and Ethical Relativism

Globalization can only prove to be beneficial for these solutions to be accepted because it can lead to the understanding of these concerns and the solutions suggested worldwide and make them acceptable for workplaces all over the world. As far as ethical relativism is concerned, these solutions cover the interests of both the major parties involved; hence it cannot be argued that they tend to lean heavily towards a certain party or side.
These solutions aim to resolve these issues and ascertain a risk free work flow in the workplace. From the above mentioned solutions, the most effective is to build healthy communication channels between the two parties. This solution is based on the deontological theory as it aims to keep in mind the nature of this issue for not just one party but for both. Communication also includes the responsibility on the employers to carefully and elaborately informing the employees what measures are being taken by them to conduct surveillance and monitoring employee activities. This can only be done through careful and strategic planning on the part of the employers and by developing a HR department that is efficient at handling the concerns of employees. Employer companies must make sure that the basic privacy rights of the employees are not in any way undermined and that monitoring policies are not used as a cover to harass them or demand more work from them. Many might argue that ethical relativism and globalization might make it an issue for these solutions to be accepted. However, these solutions deduced by keeping two of the most important ethical theories in mind cover ethical relativism as well as globalization.


Alder, G. (1998). Ethical Issues in Electronic Performance Monitoring: A Consideration of Deontological and Teleological Perspectives. Journal Of Business Ethics, 17(7), 729-743. doi:10.1023/a:1005776615072
Katina Michael,. (2006). The Emerging Ethics of Humancentric GPS Tracking and Monitoring. 2006 International Conference On Mobile Business. doi:10.1109/icmb.2006.43
Martin, K., & Freeman, R. (2003). Some Problems with Employee Monitoring. Journal Of Business Ethics, 43(4), 353-361. doi:10.1023/a:1023014112461
Weckert, J. (2004). Electronic monitoring in the workplace. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Pub.

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