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May 01, 2013

Stress and the Increasingly Monitored World of Work

How much stress must people at every level of this economy endure? Even if you have a job you cannot feel that your position remains secure in this ever rising global employment and highly competitive technology environment. If you do feel secure anywhere we feel the threat of workplace chaos, cutbacks, violence and more. Even if you could shut out the macro headlines texting across television and on your smartphone you cannot tune it all out. In the world of layoffs, mergers, acquisitions, globalization and just plain work related stress many of our friends and family have had to cope with the chaos of finding meaningful work but that’s not all that is stressful. Think about this – what happens when you have a job or get a new job? What has changed and what is changing in the work environment that may add to your stress?

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What is it like to work today in an increasingly monitored employment world? Privacy has decreased and monitoring of our every move has increased and will continue to increase. What’s on the horizon? Pressure for all of us to perform to our absolute best just to keep our contracts, positions and roles in this stressful, new world of work. That’s a given. Employers want to track you, help you perform better and, frankly, get the most for their investment in you. Employers want you protected from others, from danger, from mistakes and from your unproductive self but the cost of monitoring has a price. That price may be taking more of your freedom and privacy.

To “be our best” and for “our own protection” we are being watched and monitored just about everywhere we go. At work it is no different. If we look at the world of work it may look more like a casino in the coming years minus the clanging, clicks, clacks and alcohol (at least for most companies). The stress may move from looking for and keeping a job to looking for and keeping your employer from monitoring your every waking breath.

Psychology Today states that workers feel that until a transition is made to a new position stress is a chronic condition. Add to that stress the new level of security each company wants in its workplace. What does this mean? Once you have a job what is it like to work in the new world of work today where privacy and freedom are on the run? A glimpse of what is and what is to come could be viewed from an Orwellian porch, looking over the casino you are about to enter. In the name of security and productivity companies more and more want to watch your every move. So if you like working in a casino get ready to rumble. Welcome to the world of workplace monitoring.

Before you enter into your new job it may be worth investigating your companies stance on workplace monitoring. If you have been so busy looking at the possibilities of work and joyfully moving into your new interviews and landing a new role you may miss out.

Here is a glimpse of your company now and your future into the casino inspired world of work:

Cuddle Up with GPS. For most executives and professionals GPS location monitoring seems foreign. That’s for the service people but the truth is it’s coming to your workplace and more and more people will need to be aware that this technology, the technology to monitor your every location move may make it to you. Even though recent court decisions like U.S. v. Jones may call into question employer monitoring of employees, just know that employers have a clear desire to monitor their equipment and to provide training. In her article “I Know Where You Were Last Night – Employers Using GPS To Monitor Employees” Jennifer L. Parent suggests employers consider identifying “the legitimate business interests and benefits of such monitoring.” She also warns employees that employers may be in strong compliance when they have policies in place because “employers should identify the legitimate business interests and benefits of such monitoring.”

Don’t Cozy Up to Your Employer Provided Smartphone. Lulled into a false sense of security many new and established employees need to be aware their employer could have every right to monitor all their calls on this mobile device along with your employer provided computer. According to Parent “Federal law, which regulates phone calls with persons outside the state, does allow unannounced monitoring for business-related calls.” Even if Federal law states that employers must stop monitoring “personal calls” from specified business phones, the employee still takes the risks those phones may be monitored.

Video Surveillance Rumblings. Regarding security and safety, look for an increase in video monitoring at work. According to Cameras and Video Surveillance in the Workplace by Lisa Gueron, J.D., “many employers are using video surveillance at the workplace, often to prevent theft or to monitor employees are actually doing while on the clock.” FindLaw.com published an article “Can Employers Use Video Cameras to Monitor Workers?” in which they provide insight to employers and employees. What can you do as the employer or employee? You should check with your state labor agency and understand what “reasonable expectations of privacy” are but you must also know that video surveillance can be legitimate and lawful. Despite the fact employers are increasingly burdened with legal implications of video monitoring the ever growing desire to monitor employee productivity, prevent violence and monitor work pushes the privacy envelope wide open.

In the casino world companies like Biometrica and Griffin Technology databases share pictures of you from other casinos all in the name of preventing cheating, theft and increase security. Look for more traditional employers wanting to find not just people but patterns of behavior from this kind of database and software. The world of work now may monitor email, voicemail, phone, select social media, and computer communication. Employers know you have, as an employee, a reasonable right to privacy in the bathroom, in your union meetings and more based on most current Federal and state law. But the push from employees and not just employers is they need more security, more safety and perhaps, unwittingly, more monitoring of our every move and thus less privacy. Perhaps we want to be monitored if it can help us and protect us, right? But do we need to be monitored every second now after landing our next gig?

Wasn’t the job search and isn’t carer progression hard enough?

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