How closely does your employer watch you?

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Question: "Where I work, our Internet usage is monitored, our time is tracked to the minute, we have to log in and out of every application so the managers can see who is doing what and when, and the steps of every project are time-logged to make sure we’re using our time efficiently. This has all begun to feel oppressive—even though HR tells us that it facilitates our performance reviews and makes the raises and promotions process orderly and noncontroversial. Does anyone but me feel caged in by the way so many jobs now keep such a close eye on us?”  – Blair, Broker’s Assistant

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Kay June 10, 2013 at 5:33 pm

I can predict by what people have written here which ones would make a great who strives for encouragement, trust and a positive atmosphere and those I wouldn’t work for no matter what the salary. I agree with and understand the comments about simply being grateful we have a job and if we don’t like Big Brother-like monitoring, then move on, but I also feel that these answers miss the original point: the oppressive atmosphere that such an environment creates. There should be a balance between abuse of the Internet and ‘if you don’t like it, find a new job.’ There is monitoring at the place I am employed, but it doesn’t feel oppressive. Yes, there have been those who abused such privileges and this has caused my employer, as well as most others, to resort to different degrees of monitoring — but how much is too much? The corporate environment has a big impact on its employees. As far as not fearing anything as long as I haven’t done anything wrong, fine, but then haven’t I earned the trust, too, that builds relationships and improves employee performance? It’s not the monitoring that is the problem here; it is how much monitoring is too much? You can feel as if you work in an atmosphere of rights and responsibilities, or you can feel smothered by a disproportional lack of trust. Blair is feeling smothered and is reaching out to see if others have experienced the same thing. She doesn’t need to be told to like it or lump it.

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Kate June 10, 2013 at 11:21 am

I agree that it is oppressive haveing a strict monitoring system! The company I work at doesn’t have any systems but sometimes I wish they did! My boss trusts us on an honor system. She complains WITH us about the other people who don’t do anything but get on the internet (and their phone) all day and blatenly do it in front of their own boss! It’s nice to know our boss’s true feelings about being on the internet. It keeps us honest and on task because we know how passionate she is about much she dislikes it, and we can’t stand it either!

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Kathy June 7, 2013 at 8:39 am

I understand all the feelings and comments so far, I work for an online school and integrity must be maintained. But on the flip side if there had not been abuse in these areas, employers would not have the need to monitor things so closely. Blame those that have gone before you using company time for personal use. Most companies today are just trying to keep their heads above water just like the rest of us. If you aren’t doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about. Be thankful that you have a job.

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JoAnn Paules June 7, 2013 at 8:09 am

We have a relatively open web here but I also know that Big Brother can and sometimes does watch us. I have to believe they would only do so if they had a valid reason. We have over 100,000 employees worldwide – monitoring all of us would be challenging to say the least.

We are paid to work, not shop or socialize. Accept that or move on.

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Jon June 3, 2013 at 3:55 pm

Even though the office I work at doesn’t do a lot of monitoring, we had to sign a paper in the beginning giving them permission to. Just signing that was kind of a statement to me that I wasn’t totally trusted. That’s the problem with the few things we do here that keep an eye on us. It’s a little statement every day that the trust level just isn’t there and never will be.

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Gloria May 31, 2013 at 3:48 pm

It depends on how far it gets carry out. Most firms I worked at used these measures but it falls to the manager how “extreme” they want to take it. There is a purpose for it and it really is not restrictive as it seems when it is done correctly. Everything cannot be scrutized to the “T”. That is not what it is all about. There are metrics that can be used to gain an overall picture of efficiency. A manager who is micromanaging every little thing shows their lack of managing, lack of confidence in their own ability to manage, because they are supposed to be focusing on larger issues – not scrutinizing who is using too much ink. Really now? Shame on management. You might need to leave for a better working atmosphere. It really is not the system but the manager.

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Trisha May 31, 2013 at 1:35 pm

The supervisor I had at my previous employer was just like this. She was a poisonous force to the entire company and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that she has initiated such tactics there since I’ve left. She was so controlling that she would berate me for even doodling because it used up too much ink!
That was an extremely demoralizing and toxic situation that I could only tolerate for a year. I agree with the gist of these comments… save yourself and run… NOW!!!

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Pam May 31, 2013 at 11:37 am

I left a “job” like this years ago, and now have a “career”. I felt like I was in kindergarten having to log how I spent every minute! My supervisor counted me “tardy” when I had a leak in my apartment, and again when I had a dead battery on my car. This went against me for my annual evaluation. People that try to control employees like this are either control freaks, or OCD! Get out of there!!

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Gwen May 31, 2013 at 10:55 am

Our organization blocks access to most public websites to prevent web-surfing while on the job. A past employer had our IT staff install a system that monitored the computers and internet access. I do not have a problem with either of those being done. Logging in and out each time you are online, however, seems like overkill and a huge time-waster. There are much better ways for an employer to track internet use, and the employees could save valuable time by not having to document every occurrance.
With so many personal smart phones in use, employers will continue to have employees who are wasting company time for personal business.
The key is to hire employees that can be trusted and be sure they are performing their assigned tasks.

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Janette May 31, 2013 at 8:11 am

Some employers use this time tracking sheet to use if a termination is needed as back up. I have seen employees actually surf the for a couple of hours at a time which frustrated other employees. As I do see some need to do this it takes time out just to keep logging each time you answer a phone call or wait on someone. My boss is a person who should be doing tracking as he doesn’t work as much as he reports to people. People do recognize this though without the tracking sheet. I would not work for a company if I had to track each minute, however I would track any projects that I had to do.

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Kay May 30, 2013 at 6:08 pm

There is a certain degree of oversight to be expected, as Mark noted, but this sounds excessive. If your employer cannot tell by the work you are producing what kind of employee you are and whether you are getting your work done in a timely manner and must resort to overkill monitoring, the managers obviously do not have enough to do to otherwise benefit the company. Do such managers really bring that much more to the table than the employees they are watching when so much time and effort is wasted in this way? Is this the best use of talent? It comes down to a certain degree of trust, which is essential for a good working environment. As long as you don’t abuse this trust, there should be no need for such oppressive ‘watchdogging.’ Such measures tend to kill creativity and pretty soon the best people have left and all the company has left are robots. Run while you still have a brain!

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Mark May 30, 2013 at 5:43 pm

I can understand time being logged on an application-by-application basis for such employers as CPA’s, attorney’s, and advertising firms, where customers are billed based on exactly how much time is spent working on their issues. For most employers, I think that would be over-kill. I DO think, however, that monitoring is a good idea for all employers regarding general internet usage. Every study that has ever been done on the topic all come to the same conclusion – employees waste a lot of time using the internet for personal use. I’ll admit, I previously have pulled up Facebook, my personal e-mail, Amazon, etc, while on company time. Then we started tracking internet use on a PC-by-PC basis. I no longer do that. Does it feel like someone is watching over me? Absolutely. Is it making me more productive by not spending time on personal sites. Absolutely. Frankly, I like the monitoring because it keeps me “honest”, keeps me doing business work on business time.

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Val May 30, 2013 at 5:34 pm

The next step up is PRISON! You need to run, not walk, out of there. Maybe those monitoring you would get more done if they concentrated on their own jobs! Extremely restrictive employers get less in the long term from employees. They are not happy and will leave as soon as something better presents itself.

A place like that definitely does not DESERVE ME!!!

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