Monitoring is one of the most powerful tools in the hands of a company’s owner and managers to protect its businesses, strategies, and assets says, William D King. The surveillance laws in each state may vary depending on the circumstances and the consequences involved. However, in some states, it is an offense (crime) if you intercept or record someone’s private conversations without their consent even when they’re using your phone lines.
This article will discuss how to monitor employees’ telephone calls, emails and online activities when there are suspicions that they may be leaking secret information or misrepresenting facts that could damage your business or result in unfair competition.
- Your bitter rival is always first to market with new products;
- You suspect employees of your subsidiary office are giving secrets to your competitor.
- A customer complains about receiving similar products twice for the same order, even though he insists that only ordered once. This is causing you a reputation problem.
- You believe that certain employees are wasting time on non-related activities online during working hours which means they’re not doing their jobs properly.
However, if the information gathered through surveillance reveals criminal behavior, then there may be other violations of law beyond employees’ infidelity or lack of ethics. It goes without saying that you must inform your legal department immediately to determine whether further investigation should take place. Usually, an outside private investigator could be hired if necessary due to confidentiality reasons because it involves a review of personal conversations and information related with trade secrets. If the privacy laws in your state allow, a company should consider video monitoring as well.
Surveillance in this context means carefully watching an employee see what he or she is doing and how they are doing it. It can be done through phone taps, hidden cameras, and microphones, reading emails, intercepting faxes, and looking at personal computer use such as Internet surfing habits. What the employee actually does on the job may not be monitored unless it involves criminal conduct or misuse of company property.
Types of Surveillance
The interception of telephone calls that take place between two parties within a given geographical area says, William D King. Phone companies usually require legal documents signed by authorities before providing access to telephone conversations. However, if the company has a record of an employee giving out the telephone number to a third party this could be considered as legal grounds.
Hidden video cameras or microphones that activate when movement or sound is detect, and which monitor employees’ conduct on the job. In some cases, these can be install in publicly accessible areas such as lobbies, hallways, and cash registers. This type of monitoring should always have prior approval from your legal department to determine if it’s within your company’s guidelines for privacy violations. Electronic surveillance also includes keystroke recording software. That monitors what’s being type on a specific computer(s) by certain employees. Usually, access authorization must also be install.
Informal monitoring takes place from time to time, particularly after a major incident or policy violation. This type of surveillance requires neither extra hardware nor software. And is usually authorize by upper management through emails or memorandums. The company sends out a formal survey form asking employees. What they think about certain topics such as work conditions, safety issues, etc.
An open-ended forum for discussion where employees can express their opinions. On all kinds of workplace, matters says, William D King. Keeping one’s direct supervisor informed about possible problems or concerns is never wrong in an organizational environment. Unless it’s against company policy to complain during working hours. Some companies use anonymous drop-boxes for this purpose if necessary because one can never be too careful.
How to use surveillance information?
Employee/employer loyalty is usually an ongoing concern for many companies. When you feel the need to investigate your staff. It may be due to one of three things: lack of productivity, possible theft or other unethical conduct. Or perhaps just a tenuous relationship with management. Whatever the case, legal counsel must always be notified if privacy laws are in effect. In order to protect both office morale and company reputation against unnecessary privacy invasion lawsuits.
The important thing about surveillance is that it must be proactive in nature in order to reduce problems, not reactive. Which could mean damage control after certain events have taken place explains William D King. Since there’s no way of knowing exactly when this investigation will take place. Every company should be prepared in advance in case a particular employee goes rogue and decides to make a run for it. Having a detailed profile of each employee is crucial. Especially when you consider how long it takes to replace someone. Who has fled the company with all its secrets intact.