Growing Horizons of Electronic Monitoring

Dr S.S. Verma is a professor at Department of Physics, Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology, Sangrur, Punjab

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In an effort to enhance employee performance, organisations like call centres are increasingly using electronic technology to monitor their workers on the job. With electronic performance monitoring, supervisors can continually track and analyse an employee’s workflow in real time. They are able to review call recordings as well as listen into calls as they happen. Electronic monitoring systems are also used to continually collect information on performance metrics, such as average call handle time, total number of calls handled and time on breaks. Knowing that they could be evaluated at any time, employees would be motivated to do their best and work harder on all calls.

Through the use of electronic technology, companies are able to guarantee their customers about delivery of a quality product or service in time. These are also able to enhance employee safety and convenience, protect employer and employee property, improve accounting efficiency, provide perquisites and benefits to employees, and prevent fraud. In fact, electronic monitoring has become essential to remain competitive in the global economy.

Objections to monitoring

Electronic surveillance invades employees’ privacy, erodes their sense of dignity and discourages high-quality work by sole emphasis on speed and other purely quantitative measurements. Electronic monitoring puts pressure to perform. Stressful working conditions related to monitoring include heavy workload, repetitive tasks, social isolation and fear of job loss, which are exacerbated by the lack of job involvement or participation, and no organisational support. These sociotechnical triggers, besides generally adverse working conditions, can have direct psychological consequences.

The monitored employees reported higher workload, less workload variation and greater workload dissatisfaction than unmonitored employees. They also reported more musculoskeletal, psychological and psychosomatic health complaints.

Caution advised

Electronic monitoring is gaining widespread application in various fields owing to its many advantages. However, it also has a few disadvantages. Surveillance is a fundamental means by which employers inexpensively and effectively exercise power. But, stress, inter-worker competition and performance evaluations ultimately have a detrimental effect on productivity and smooth operation of businesses. So management is now concerned primarily with devising more efficient and less draconian means of implementing and administering monitoring systems. Similarly, electronic monitoring in case of animals also should not harm their behaviour, freedom and health.


 

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