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How Should IT Departments Handle Requests to Monitor Employee Activity?

How Should IT Departments Handle Requests to Monitor Employee Activity?

by Stephanie Faris on Monday, February 01 6:00



A supervisor notices that an employee seems to spend hours each day on social media. There isn t an issue with work getting done, but coworkers have begun to complain that while they re working hard, this employee is taking long work breaks every 15 minutes.

When supervisors deal with these issues, they can sometimes be tempted to turn the situation over to the IT department, asking for employees to be tracked. Reports can be generated and used as documentation during disciplinary action or termination. However, it can also put already-taxed IT staffs in an awkward position, requiring them to spend hours pulling logs instead of doing their own work. Here are two ways IT departments can handle these requests.

Option 1: Agree

Depending on where the request generates from in the organization, an IT staff may have no choice but to grant the request. If a CEO makes the request, for instance, saying no could be seen as insubordination and get the IT team in more trouble than simply following orders. If the request comes through a lower-level employees, make sure you have the approval of upper management to proceed. It may be against the guiding principles of the organization s founders to monitor employee behavior.

There is a legitimate reason to monitor employee technology behavior. Some workers can put an organization s infrastructure at risk as they re playing online all day. They could click on a malicious link on social media or slow the server down while streaming Netflix all day. By policing activities and shutting down unsafe activities, your IT team could actually prevent a serious issue that could impact its bottom line.

Option 2: Disagree

If you feel your job can remain secure doing so, you can decline to monitor employees when asked. Long before you re asked, you can ask your business s leaders to approve a policy regarding such requests. If you feel uncomfortable saying no to a request from a higher up, simply outline the amount of time that will be necessary to monitor employees and explain what will be set aside to take care of these requests.

Often when a supervisor requests reports on an employee s activity, there s a reason. Either other employees are complaining and some type of action needs to be taken or a supervisor needs a reason to take disciplinary measures. A list of unauthorized web activity can be easier to discipline than lackluster work performance or a negative, toxic attitude. One of the biggest dangers of giving into those types of requests is that it sets a precedent and soon, you ll find that you re regularly pulling reports on employee activity. This creates an environment in which employee morale plummets and IT could be blamed.

IT departments may have no choice but to honor requests to monitor employee activity online upon request. Putting policies in place that you can use when responding to these requests could help. However, if you need a reason to decline, stating that your team is simply too busy keeping the business s network and its devices in good shape to spend time watching what employees are doing.

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