Hot topic: Employee monitoring


This sure is a hot topic and one that will have some controversy. As an employee I would not feel comfortable with such an implant. From my perspective I see it as an intrusion to my person. What are ...

Read More Susie Matson
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Barclays and the Daily Telegraph have both faced criticism for installing employee monitoring devices

Meanwhile staff at tech company Three Square Market can choose to have a chip injected into their hand. But how ethical is employee tracking technology? What are the risks and how can HR protect staff?

Simon Webley, research director at the Institute of Business Ethics, says:

"One of the essential matters to address if an organisation wishes to maintain an open culture is the protection and use of data – both personal and commercial.

"Chip technology poses particular challenges, not least to boards. So HR needs to be involved from the outset. There are two key words that should form the basis of a policy: permission and privacy.

"If chip technology is to be used to promote a more effective organisation, then each employee needs to give their personal permission and be provided with a clear explanation of how the data gleaned from the chip is to be used. This should be put in writing and regularly reviewed. At the same time, an assurance needs to be given that their privacy will always be maintained."

Norman Pickavance, co-founder of the Centre for Organisational Renewal, says:

"There are several pressing concerns about spyware. For example, it doesn’t work particularly in a ‘high touch’ customer environment such as retail.

"Genuine customer service is all about building relationships with shoppers. Foundations for such relationships are ultimately based on trust. Yet introducing spyware sends a signal to all staff that they ultimately cannot be trusted to do a good job. Such approaches undermine the authority of managers who are no longer sure that their judgement on their team members is valued.

"All the research points to better customer service coming when people feel confident in themselves, feel confident that they can talk to shoppers, and feel proud of the work they do. When you take that autonomy away people stop giving all of themselves; stepping back and only doing the bare minimum. At the end of the day spying on people becomes self-defeating."

Check back tomorrow for part two of this Hot Topic


This sure is a hot topic and one that will have some controversy. As an employee I would not feel comfortable with such an implant. From my perspective I see it as an intrusion to my person. What are the health implications...both physical, mental and dare I mention spirituality. It also brings into question trust on either side. This is just in the moment thought but certainly one that I will give more thought to as well as looking at other perspectives. Best Susie


There are some good points as well as rather scary points: 1) Tracking can be useful in hostile or challenging work environments such as on offshore oil installations or the battlefield. But also spyware can be useful in that in can provide some protection again physical bullying and harassment where the location of the aggressor is known in proximity to the victim. Stress levels could be monitored which is useful. 2) Also there is a health benefit where biomarkers and metrics can be ascertained and monitored e.g radiation/ chemical toxicity which is very useful. However the same info may be used against staff unbeknown to them if redundancies occur, extra information on stress levels may be used against staff as they may be more likely to take take off. 3) The spyware may be tuned to pick up medication. In this case staff who are keen to keep a short course of anti-depressants secret from their organisation may have the information used against them, in , again a redundancy situation, promotions (the 'fittest' get the job) or demotions at all levels of the organisation. There needs to be a regulator and strict consistent monitoring otherwise the information gathered may not only end up in the wrong places but could be used against staff.

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