Technology continually changes the dynamics of the workplace for HR leaders. Sometimes the changes provide simple-to-spot clear-cut value and an array of benefits while others create moral, ethical, and legal concerns, if not outright problems.
Employee Rights in the Workplace and HR Technology
Working with your IT department to purchase the best technology to improve your HR’s functionality is certainly welcome. However, your IT and legal departments may remind you that each type of technology sometimes comes with as many risks as rewards. Employee computer usage tracking and cloud-based HR employee information file storage deliveries offer both.
With good research among your HR, IT, legal and executive teams, you can sort out the complications for these technologies, so you can reap the rewards without worry.
Tracking technology usage definitely comes with several potential concerns that HR managers and executive teams need to address. If you worry about your employees surfing the web instead of finishing fulfilling their professional responsibilities, your concerns may have merit. The Balance reports that employees spend anywhere from one to three hours each day performing personal online business. Such misuse may serve as the inspiration for your executive team’s desire to implement some type of location tracking or another monitoring system.
Computer Usage and Reasonable Employee Monitoring Tactics
It is important to strike the right balance between your organization’s approach to monitoring your employees’ computer usage and ensuring their privacy under the law. How do you make sure your employees are not spending large chunks of company time writing Facebook posts or shopping for a new car without infringing on their basic rights? How can you tell when you are close to stepping over the line?
Employee monitoring in the workplace forces you to toggle that fine line, which is brimming with complex legal concerns. Sit down with your trusted computer usage compliance team and explore some of the following matters together.
- Work Comes First and Foremost. Like most organizations, you probably developed a computer usage policy that requires employees to sign upon hire. Rocket Lawyer Incorporated asserts that employees do give up a fair amount of privacy in exchange for their job and regular pay. Check into your state’s privacy laws, and browse your state labor department’s website to learn more about your rights as an employer.
- Separating the Private from the Professional Can Sometimes Be Messy. It is difficult to sort work product from personal files, especially when employees work from home or while traveling. Whether using BYOD or company-issued hardware, digital data is often messy business; even if you use GPS location tracking. Generally, though, employees cannot expect privacy when it comes to any data stored in or transmitted via your company’s laptops, smartphones, or email accounts. With GPS location tracking, make sure your employees know that you are using this technology for full disclosure and transparency.
- Understand the Difference Between Monitoring and Surveillance of Your Employees’ Computer Behavior. While monitoring your employees’ general computer activity is fine, surveillance is another matter, according to Entrepreneur. Simple monitoring to ensure proper usage and protection of your company’s equipment and reputation, but surveillance takes on more of a “creepy factor” and indicates tracking the individual’s activities. Unless you suspect a particular employee of abuse of your property, keep monitoring globally focused. If you do suspect someone of problematic behavior, document your concerns and keep your legal team apprised of the situation as it develops.
- Keep the Dialog Open with Your Employees. You may find that regular company-wide reminders are all it takes to help corral employees. If you notice that a few team members lost focus and have spent too much recent time surfing the web, simply gather the troops and give a general reminder. Without directly indicating anyone, in particular, you let everyone know that misuses are noted and you hope to see improvement. This approach gives everyone the chance to self-correct while respecting employee rights in the workplace.
- Consider Using Biometric Time and Attendance Tracking. Along with HR in the cloud, this technology could help improve your monitoring capabilities for the whole team. With biometric time and attendance software, you will receive regular updates on web browsing, time on the clock, and time using BYOD mobiles for business.
HR in the Cloud and Employee Records Retention
Another employee privacy issue every HR manager needs to address involves employee records retention. Most businesses occasionally need to purge files to make room for new data. Work with your HR team to keep the following do’s and don’t’s in mind when it is time to review files for storage or destruction:
Do identify vital records – Don’t hoard unnecessary data.
Don’t use valuable on-site space for storage – Do consider using a fireproof storage facility
Do remember that having HR in the cloud means easy access to older files – Don’t count solely on electronic storage unless you do plenty of research.
The more you and your compliance team work together to protect your employee’s rights and your company’s best interests, the more everyone can relax and take care of daily tasks.