Electronic Monitoring vs. Health Concerns
Is privacy and electronic monitoring in the work place an issue that is becoming a problem? More and more employees are being monitored today then ever before and the companies that do it aren't letting off. While electronic monitoring in the work place may be the cause of increased stress levels and tension, the benefits far exceed the harm that it may cause.
Employees don't realize how often electronic monitoring happens in their work place. An estimated twenty million Americans are subjected to monitoring in their work place, commonly in the form of phone monitoring, E-mail searches, and searching through the files on their hard drive (Paranoid 435). A poll by MacWorld states that over twenty-one percent of all employees are monitored at work, and the larger the company, the higher the percentage (Privacy 445). Unaware of this electronic monitoring, most employees often are not working at their peak performance due to this type of scrutiny.
The majority of Americans believe that electronic monitoring should not be allowed. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis states that of all of the freedoms that Americans enjoy, privacy "is the right most valued by civilized men (Privacy 441)." A poll taken by Yankelovich Clancy Shulman for Time, states that ninety-five percent of Americans believe that electronic monitoring should not be allowed (Privacy 444). Harriet Ternipsede, who is a travel agent, gave a lengthy testimonial on how electronic monitoring at her job caused her undue stress and several health problems including muscle aches, mental confusion, weakened eyesight, severe sleep disturbance, nausea, and exhaustion. Ternipsede was later diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (Electronic 446). A study done by the University of Wisconsin found that eighty-seven percent of employees subjected to electronic monitoring suffered from higher stress levels and increased tension while only sixty-seven percent of those employees that were not subjected to monitoring had those same symptoms (Paranoid 436).
While it is obvious that most employees are against electronic monitoring, the use of electronic monitoring contributes to increased stress levels in employees. While the advantages derived from electronic monitoring far outweigh the disadvantages. Through the use of employee monitoring, companies can save money in overall operations cost by weeding out those employees who don't pull their weight, and cut down on employee theft. By monitoring employees, it is possible to measure their performance and see if they are meeting standards. By getting rid of those employees who don't meet standards the burden of daily tasks is lifted on every other employee in that department. Eighty to ninety percent of business theft is internal (Paranoid 432). Through the use of employee monitoring, the amount of money lost to theft can be dramatically reduced.
While electronic monitoring in the work place may contribute to employee stress, the benefits are far greater then the disadvantages. Not only do companies save money from employee theft, sabotage, and vandalism, employees can feel more confident that their coworkers who don't pull their own weight will be terminated. When the company and the employees both benefit from increased profits I would call this a win-win situation. If the savings are passed to the customer, you could even have a win-win-win situation.
CQ Researcher. "Privacy in the Workplace." Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Ed. Laurence Behrens and Leonard Rosen. 6th ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1997. 441-445.
Ternipsede, Harriet. "Is Electronic Monitoring of Workers Really Necessary?" Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Ed. Laurence Behrens and Leonard Rosen. 6th ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1997. 446-448.
Whalen, John. "You're Not Paranoid: They Really Are Watching You." Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Ed. Laurence Behrens and Leonard Rosen. 6th ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1997. 430-440.