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Office Surveillance Tools May Hinder Company Culture

Office Surveillance Tools May Hinder Company Culture

Company surveillance tools have grown increasingly common in the last several years. Data would also suggest that this tech will continue its upward trend over the next several years. But despite its rapid growth, is it good for business? While useful for the employer, surveillance tools may not be well-received by the employees, potentially harming your organization. 

Read on to learn about the impact surveillance technology and tools has on company culture and what you should consider within your organization.



Why Utilize Employee Surveillance Technology?

The ultimate goal of employee surveillance is to manage employee performance. Managing employee performance is a proven way to increase productivity, which can help your organization become more successful.  One way that surveillance technology can work to improve productivity is by monitoring communications for quality assurance. If you’ve ever worked in sales or with people-facing teams, you know communication is key to a successful interaction. Many companies monitor phone calls and emails or record meetings to see how their employees behave in their roles. This can let you find room for improvement, encouraging the employee to grow their skillset.  

Tracking sales metrics is another tool that can be used to you may be familiar with if you’ve worked in people-facing positions. Tracking sales metrics is a breeze with modern software applications. Zoho provides a CRM, or customer relationship management, application that allows sales experts to track qualified leads. Software like this isn’t just for the organization but also to see who your top performers are and how they achieve success.

Employee surveillance tools can also be used to monitor behavior. You want your workplace to be compliant and productive, so some tools are geared toward achieving those goals. Consider tools like Cameras. Cameras can be used in the workplace to ensure workplace etiquette is observed at all times. This can mean everything from making sure no one is goofing off on dangerous equipment to keeping an eye on an employee that is on their last chance for previously harassing colleagues. 

Keyloggers are another tool that can be used to see if an employee works at their computer at the designated times by monitoring computer usage. If you’re worried an employee is napping instead of working during peak hours, a keylogger may be your best bet for tracking productivity.


Office Surveillance Tools Increase Employee Anxiety

A recent survey conducted by 1E and Wakefield Research determined that over half of IT professionals would turn down a desirable position if that role is subject to surveillance technology. The tech has grown more common, and nearly 80% of companies not currently using it are expected to implement it within the next three years. 73% of IT managers responded that they would feel uncomfortable asking their employees to utilize the technology, especially if transparency was lacking. It seems clear that this tech may become a staple in the future despite all evidence pointing toward more harmful results than good. 

Mark Banfield, CEO of 1E, shares this sentiment: 

“Even before conducting this survey, we understood that workplace surveillance is a controversial topic among employees and leaders alike. However, research—both ours and previous—shows that this tactic does far more harm to culture and reputation than good,” said Mark Banfield, CEO of 1E.

Office surveillance tools can increase anxiety among employees for several reasons. For one, employees may feel like their every move is being monitored, which can lead to feelings of mistrust, and many fear a lack of privacy. This can cause anxiety as employees feel like they are always being watched, and any mistake or deviation from expected behavior could result in negative consequences.

Constant monitoring can also create a high-pressure environment where employees feel they must constantly perform and meet expectations. This can lead to a feeling of being under constant scrutiny, leading to increased stress and anxiety. Employees may also worry about being unfairly judged based on their performance metrics, which can further exacerbate anxiety.

The lack of control and autonomy that comes with office surveillance tools can also contribute to employee anxiety. Employees may feel like they are not trusted to manage their work and are constantly micromanaged. This lack of control over their own work and environment can make employees feel trapped and increase their sense of anxiety.



How Does Increased Anxiety Lead to Burnout?

Employee burnout is a state that involves feelings of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. It is typically caused by prolonged and excessive amounts of stress at work. It is a condition that can affect anyone, regardless of their industry, job title, or experience level. 

The increased anxiety that comes with office surveillance tools can lead employees to enter a state of burnout. When employees are constantly worried about being monitored and judged based on their performance, it can lead to a state of hypervigilance, which is a common symptom of burnout. This hypervigilance can lead to exhaustion, both physical and mental, as employees are constantly on high alert and rarely able to relax.

The lack of control that comes with being constantly monitored can lead to a feeling of powerlessness, which is another common symptom of burnout. When employees feel like they have no control over their work environment or their own workload, it can make them feel helpless and overwhelmed. This can lead to a sense of hopelessness and emotional exhaustion, which are also symptoms of burnout.

A high-pressure environment created by office surveillance tools can lead to an increased workload, as employees may feel like they need to constantly perform at a high level to meet expectations. This increased workload can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, which are both symptoms of burnout. Employees may also feel like they need more time for self-care activities such as exercise, socializing, or hobbies, which can exacerbate burnout symptoms. 

While more continuous data will be needed to determine the long-term impacts of this technology, employers should prepare for the impact this tech may bring upon their company culture.

So, increased anxiety caused by office surveillance tools can lead to burnout in several ways. Hypervigilance, powerlessness, and increased workload can all contribute to physical and emotional exhaustion and a sense of hopelessness and despair. Employers need to be aware of these negative effects and take steps to reduce the stress and anxiety caused by office surveillance tools to prevent burnout among their employees.


What Are Solutions to Office Surveillance Tool Concerns?

Transparency is key. Employers should communicate clearly and openly with employees about what types of surveillance tools are being used and why they are necessary. Employers should explain how the data is being used, who has access to it, and what measures are being taken to ensure that it is being used ethically and responsibly. This transparency can help build trust between employers and employees and can help alleviate anxiety and concerns about surveillance tools. This level of transparency should stem from a greater level of transparency experienced throughout the organization, from finances to organizational help and even pay transparency

Employers can empower employees by giving them more control over their own work environment. For example, instead of monitoring every aspect of employee behavior, employers can give employees more autonomy and allow them to work in a way that suits their own strengths and preferences. This can help employees feel more valued and trusted and can help reduce anxiety and stress. This is not to say that surveillance should be thrown out the window, but rather to limit surveillance tactics to the most critical places. For example, when employees are working with high-profile client information, working through a project with very tight timelines, or working with important company information. 

Employers can explore alternative methods of employee monitoring as well. For example, employers can use more passive monitoring tools instead of invasive surveillance tools, such as tracking software that monitors keystrokes or mouse movements. This can help employers get a sense of employee productivity without being intrusive or overly controlling. 

Employers can also consider using feedback and coaching sessions to help employees improve their performance rather than relying solely on surveillance tools.

Employers have several options when it comes to addressing concerns over office surveillance tools. By remaining transparent, empowering employees, and exploring alternative monitoring methods, employers can effectively reduce employee anxiety and stress while ensuring business needs are met.


Additional Resources

You can also stay informed, educated, and up-to-date with all things HR by using BerniePortal’s comprehensive resources:

  • BernieU—free online HR courses, approved for SHRM and HRCI recertification credit

  • BerniePortal Blog—a one-stop-shop for HR industry news

  • HR Glossary—featuring the most common HR terms, acronyms, and compliance

  • HR Guides—essential pillars covering an extensive list of comprehensive HR topics

  • HR Party of One—our popular YouTube series and podcast, covering emerging HR trends and enduring HR topics 

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