Monitored Employees More Likely to Slack Off, Ignore Instructions, Steal

Companies considering electronically monitoring employees to keep a closer watch on them and their performance may want to think twice, as research shows it could backfire.

A Harvard Business Review study found that employees given a series of tasks were more likely to cheat despite being told they would under electronic surveillance than those who weren’t told they’d be monitored. Similarly, another Harvard Business Review study found that workers being monitored were, quote, “substantially more likely to take unapproved breaks, disregard instructions, damage workplace property, steal office equipment, and purposefully work at a slow pace.”

The researchers concluded that when workers are monitored, they shift the responsibility of their actions onto the authority figure doing the surveillance instead of themselves, and were more likely to act in a way that is against to their own moral standards. They suggested that if companies still want to monitor employees, that they consult employees and provide them both transparency and input into guidelines for when surveillance is and isn’t appropriate.

One study found explaining the purpose and scope of employee monitoring increased their acceptance of it by about 70 percent. (Fortune)