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The Importance of Monitoring Internal Communication for Business

With more digital communication channels comes more productivity and collaboration, but also more room for tracking employee conversations and, hence, privacy concerns.

Employee monitoring definitely is a controversial topic that raises a lot of questions. It can be difficult to find the right balance between keeping track of internal correspondence while not being too intrusive. Nevertheless, this practice is essential.

Why you should monitor internal communication

The first thing that pops into people’s minds when they hear about employee monitoring is productivity. It is often perceived as a strategy to detect employees doing non-work related things at the workplace.

However, boosting productivity is not the only reason to monitor internal communication. Monitoring correspondence can also help spot and prevent mobbing, bullying, and sexual harassment by detecting potentially harmful language used by employees.

Finally, communication monitoring doesn’t only serve to expose abusers and unproductive workers. It is also essential when trying to prevent data leaks and security breaches.

According to the 2019 survey by GetApp, almost 30% of business owners monitor employees to ensure productivity, while 25% do it to ensure employees are complying with internal communication policies.


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The GetApp survey also shows that 90% of business owners think monitoring employee communications is at least acceptable and 38.7% think it is absolutely necessary. These responses are much different from those given only four years earlier, when 43.3% of business owners labeled monitoring as an invasion of privacy.

The difference between these survey results probably stems from the fact that, within the past couple of years, work culture has shifted towards remote work and gig economy, so business owners find it much harder to ensure productivity. With the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and many businesses being forced to work from home, the concerns about employee privacy and surveillance are growing even more.

Privacy concerns and regulations

Naturally, employees are not as keen on the idea of being monitored as business owners are, especially if they feel like they are being productive and doing their job properly. Monitoring their conversations makes it seem like there’s a lack of trust and it can even backfire and make employees less motivated to do their job properly.


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Constant surveillance can make it feel like they’re living in an Orwellian nightmare and that their privacy is being violated. Although some kind of monitoring is necessary, these are all legitimate concerns you should take into account if you care about your employees’ motivation and well-being at work.

But ethical concerns are not the only ones you should consider. There are also complex employee monitoring laws you must follow.

Most of the laws do allow employee monitoring, as long as it is related to business. Also, employers are mostly required to disclose that employees are being monitored, make clear how their company will use the collected data, and use it only when necessary.

Here are some examples of laws and regulations you should know about before implementing employee monitoring:

Needless to say, different countries might have different laws, so make sure to do your research and find the ones that are relevant in your area.

Data protection and compliance

It is absolutely necessary to follow these laws and protect your employee’s privacy. At the same time, there are strict laws that require you to safeguard your sensitive business data, and monitoring can help you ensure the necessary data protection.

In fact, the tightening of the data protection laws is probably another reason why GetApp data shows a shift in attitudes business owners have towards employee monitoring.

Work emails contain loads of highly-confidential information so you need to ensure email compliance and adhere to relevant regulations regarding email correspondence. Besides email, there are many different channels of communication and you need to make sure that you’re on top of all of them. You should also archive and monitor your social media communication, phone calls, and texts.

How to do it ethically

Following privacy protection laws and safeguarding your data should be your top priority, but you also shouldn’t forget about your employees’ well-being. Here are some steps you can take to make your monitoring practices more ethical:

  • Be transparent. Have a clear monitoring policy and make sure that everyone is on board with it.
  • Only monitor things you really need to monitor.
  • Monitoring internal correspondence doesn’t mean someone should actually read every single email between employees. Just set up the keywords you want to look out for and react only when they get triggered.
  • Use the collected data only when necessary.

Finding a balance between your own needs and employees’ privacy concerns can be challenging. But making sure that your employees feel comfortable with your communication monitoring policy will make them feel more appreciated, more motivated, and at the end of the day, more productive.

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