According to experts, it is very likely that employers will increasingly read text messages and other personal communications on employees’ cell phones. Surveys show that more than 70 percent of employers are now using a more sophisticated type of electronic monitoring tool, among which is an app to monitor text messages. And as mobile phones are increasingly being used as a primary means of communication in business, employers may rely more and more on such type of monitoring.
How Does Electronic Monitoring Affect Employees?
Research shows that workers are significantly affected by the fact that their employers choose to monitor them while they are at work. With the popularity of text message monitoring software, there is now growing fear among workers who have been using their mobile devices for personal purposes. On the other hand, those employees who are professional enough to know how to use their company mobile phones professionally don’t really mind being monitored by their employers.
A decrease in morale among employees is another expected effect of electronically monitoring workers. Many people think that this kind of monitoring is a clear indication of their employers’ lack of trust in their staff. But then again, those employers who perform this type of tracking are not actually targeting particular individuals. Often, this is just one strategy that companies are using to enhance productivity in the workplace.
Is It Legal for Employers to Monitor Workers’ Text Messages?
Monitoring messages in the workplace are perfectly legal. Back in 2010, the US Supreme Court ruled that employers can track or monitor employee text messages as long as there is a legitimate work-related purpose for it. Many companies also respect the rights of their workers by first obtaining their consent to be monitored. Workers have no choice, though, as it is the right of their employer to perform such kind of monitoring.
Another factor that makes employee monitoring using cell phone monitoring legal is the ownership of the device. A company should be the legal owner of the device for the monitoring to be considered legal. Take note that employers are not legally permitted to install any kind of text message monitoring app on their workers’ personal mobile phones. They can only do so with company phones, which they provide to their employees for business use only.
What Should Employees Do?
There is actually not much an employee can do if the company decides to implement electronic monitoring on them. To be on the safe side, however, employees should refrain from using company phones to send messages that they do not want their employers to read. Also, by remaining professional about how to use company phones, one can avoid being monitored by some software that read text messages, such as Auto Forward.