Workers, Employers Disagree Over Monitoring Rationale

January 18, 2005 ( - A divide seems to exist between employees and employers on the perceived reasons for monitoring employees, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and

The 2005 Workplace Privacy Survey found that while employers thought worker monitoring was in place mainly to prevent the misuse of proprietary information, as well as to prevent computer viruses, hackers and others from interfering with business operations, employees did not see it this way. Overall, employees thought that monitoring was in place to check productivity levels and job performance and because employers did not trust them, according to a press release from the companies.

The survey also found that workers are now more cautious with Internet usage because they believe it is being monitored. They just might be right. More companies are now blocking instant messenger and access to personal e-mail accounts, according to the survey, and 25% of HR professionals also claim that their security has increased as a result of 9/11.

Both groups did agree however that postal mail should not be read, telephone conversations should not be monitored, and employees’ desks should not be searched without cause. However, 76% of employers thought they had a right to monitor office cell phone calls, while only 52% of employees agreed.

Comparing non-profit companies to for-profit ones, the survey found that the latter track employee expense reports and movement at work more frequently than the former. On the other hand however, non-profits track employee telephone usage more than their profitable counterparts.

The study was conducted from responses by 336 HR professionals and 520 employees. SHRM ( ) is an organization for human resource management professionals, while ( ) is a site for executives, managers and professionals.