How Much Do You Trust Your Employees?

Written by Chad Gniffke

November 11, 2019

Small Business

What should you be monitoring for your employees, and what might you want to let go?

Being a managed services provider of IT support in Orange County, California, we are often asked by our clients to help monitor, lockdown, or otherwise check up on employees of the company.

Some businesses don’t trust their employees at all and require us to implement several tools to make sure their staff is on task and not doing anything they shouldn’t be doing. Other companies take a hands-off approach and believe in their employees (sometimes when they shouldn’t)

During the onboarding process, you should be absolutely clear that company-issued devices are the property of the company. Employees should have no expectation of privacy on those devices and any communication, search history or other kinds of access can and will be monitored.

So, how much monitoring is too much, and how much is not enough? It’s a very fine line to walk for sure. Here are some of the things you should absolutely implement and maybe a few you can let go.

Web History

One thing that every company should be filtering and monitoring is web history. This can not only protect the company in the event of illegal activities, but it can also pinpoint staff members who are spending too much time on social media.

The internet should also be filtered so you can block out specific categories of websites like pornography or shopping or streaming video. You would need to decide as a management team what categories you will allow and disallow. Some companies even block access to outside email providers like Gmail and Yahoo to make sure that sensitive company data is not being sent.

There are companies that can go a little overboard here and completely block all websites except ones that are whitelisted only. At that point, you clearly don’t trust your staff, or you have some serious security requirements for the type of business you do.

If you have to ask if the policies are a little too harsh, they might just be. You can loosen the reigns a little and see how it goes. If productivity suffers, you can tighten them up again.

Email

I am always surprised at the number of people who apply for new jobs, talk bad about their company, management or co-workers, or even send sensitive documents over company email. That is one place where it’s almost a guarantee it can be seen by someone else.

IT support providers are often tasked with granting access to a mailbox of a current employee to a manager or other staff. Someone else could have access to your inbox right now. When you are in your company email, there should be no expectation of privacy at all.

Again, there are some companies that will take this to an extreme level and get copied on all messages going in and out of the company. That sounds like a whole lot of work for management, and at that point, you may need to look at your hiring process if you are that distrustful of your employees.

As management, I recommend you only access an employee’s inbox if their behavior, productivity, or attitude warrants a second look.

File or Program Access

Another area you might want to monitor, especially if someone has given notice or has been acting strangely, is their file access or attempts to access areas of your line of business apps that they generally don’t need.

Someone with unrestricted access to areas like client databases or management files could do some serious damage in those areas. There are programs that will let you know exactly who is getting into what files and when to help you with any legal proceedings if it came down to it.

The best solution here is to make sure all employees only have as much access as they need to get there job done and nothing above and beyond that.

The bottom line is that if your hiring process is on point, and your employees haven’t ever given you a reason to worry, you may want to make sure they continue to feel that way. Employees with someone constantly looking over their shoulder might not stay employees for long. Give them a little bit of trust, and they might just surprise you with how dedicated they are to your company.