- As more employers favor surveillance tools as a monitoring productivity, more than 80% of information technology managers and workers in a recent survey by digital workplace vendor 1E said they had witnessed negative impacts as a result of organizational adoption of such tools.
- Specific impacts included declining employee loyalty and trust in leadership, with one-third of IT managers stating that they had observed the former since their organizations began using surveillance tools to monitor productivity. Additionally, 30% of IT workers reported an increase in employee anxiety, while 28% said they had seen faster employee burnout.
- More than 1 in 4 IT workers said they would raise concerns with leadership before complying with a request to deploy surveillance tech, and 5% would refuse to do so, according to 1E. A majority, 72%, said they would inform their co-workers of workarounds if their organizations decided to deploy such tech.
The survey’s findings are potentially significant given the rise of workplace surveillance in an era of increased flexible work. A 2021 Digital.com survey found that most remote work-enabled employers were using software to monitor employees.
Employers may find utility in being able to track workers’ activities, but the tools may come at a cost. 1E’s survey is not the first to document the potential for negative outcomes; one 2021 report commissioned by the European Commission’s Joint Research Council found that surveillance could cause decreased job satisfaction and organizational commitment, as well as increased stress.
Organizations including Microsoft have warned that an employer’s desire for surveillance may signal a disconnect between employees and leadership. In survey results published earlier this year by performance management vendor 15Five, more than one-third of managers said monitoring had no impact on worker productivity.
Additionally, employers that deploy surveillance tech may deal with scrutiny from regulators. Last month, the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau signed a memorandum of understanding stating that the two agencies would share information to address employer practices such as surveillance and monitoring. NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo also published a 2022 memo calling on the Board to address surveillance tools that may interfere with workers’ rights.
Elsewhere, worker advocacy groups have called on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to establish a workplace standard for electronic surveillance and algorithmic management.