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Monitoring upends balance of power at workplace, some say [video chat]

April 08, 2013|By Alana Semuels

In a drive to cut costs and improve efficiency, companies are employing an ever-increasing array of tracking and monitoring technology to see what their employees are doing at all times, according to a story in Monday’s Los Angeles Times.

For companies, it makes sense: In a globalized world, anyone who doesn’t cut costs could soon be out of business. But the monitoring is changing the relationship between employers and employees, further upsetting the balance of power in the workplace.

“The technology is being used to satisfy the needs of the employer, but is being leveraged against the employee,” said Regina Connolly, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Internet Commerce, and an expert in “dataveillance,” a term used to describe workplace monitoring. “The playing field is being tilted in favor of the industry, against the employee.”

Employees have little say on how the tracking data are used; the information can be used to justify pay cuts, to pay people piecemeal, or to fire people outright. It gives employers an increasing array of data to use to justify changes in the workplace, she said.

Productive employees are not immune. Employers will know what employees are doing on the weekends, if they take long bathroom breaks, and any mistakes they make, however small.

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