Company surveillance programs often initially track employees without their “informed” knowledge by identifying behavioral patterns proven to correlate with policy breaches, including data theft and leaking, enabling management to take unilateral action. But these “big data” programs sometimes track realms of employee data – including phone GPS locations; browsing, downloading, and printing histories; and transcripts of digitally recorded phone conversations – all without employee consent or knowledge.
These textbook corporate surveillance programs leave many employees feeling spied on, uninformed, and infuriated.
This is a strategy that differs greatly from employee monitoring, which too few employers have implemented successfully. Yet with the explosion of technology and media creating a wave of new employment issues, monitoring employees is more important than ever.
On the surface, differentiating between monitoring and surveillance at the workplace can seem complicated; however, there are several stark differences between the two. Typical surveillance programs do not operate with employee consent, are not transparent, and foster a confrontational culture rather than building trust between employees and management. Their primary objective is often to find bad actors and support taking punitive action against them.
Contrast this approach with modern behavioral monitoring programs, which:
● require employee consent,
● transparently identify assessed behavioral information,
● protect privacy and the misuse of information,
● prevent targeting,
● eliminate bias and discrimination,
● ensure consistent and compliant actions,
● support full independent auditing,
● create a shared objective of safety and security.
Unlike surveillance, which is executed largely in a silo with one team focused on catching transgressors, modern monitoring programs focus on mitigation, broadly supporting employee retention and a healthy workforce. Monitoring programs seek to identify early evidence-based indicators of a struggling employee to proactively assist them, unearth derogatory material, and prevent and address other wrongdoing inside the organization. Fundamental to these monitoring programs is the principle that involving all employees and organizational functions in the process is as vital as the information sharing itself. This informed approach aligns with and supports a positive connected culture.
Monitoring concerning behavior helps on a macro level and has been proven to work well within the parameters of United States National Security. According to Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) November 2022 data on investigations, adjudications, and vetting risk operations, about one-third of denials and revocations were due to personal or criminal conduct (another third was due to financial considerations).
Organizations must focus on the governance and privacy around the use of behavioral data. According to a Harvard Business Review report, more than 90% of employees are willing to let their employers collect and apply data on them and their work. However, they harbor serious concerns about how companies might use the data; only 30% of executives whose companies use workforce data reported being highly confident they are employing it responsibly. This dichotomy highlights the difference between informed monitoring and big brother surveillance.
ClearForce has a time-tested monitoring solution to address governance and privacy. Its innovative monitoring software, Resolve™, tracks, correlates and analyzes real-time behavior to support proactive, informed, non-biased actions – based on evidence-informed risk factors and using enhanced privacy safeguards. With its consent-based approach, employees better understand which events are being monitored and why, while automated checks and balances prevent unauthorized actions.
Resolve™ helps organizations handle and assist struggling employees on the verge of, or already, putting their organizations and colleagues at risk. For example, it protects employers against distracted workers making critical mistakes or mishandling confidential data.
Organizations may define and set a customized policy to become aware of specific predefined risks in real time. ClearForce Resolve™ captures about 80% of concerning behavioral alerts in real time, based on the event time. Behavioral alerts can also be integrated with other internally sourced data within an employer’s secure workflow or shared with other internal systems to craft more comprehensive assessments. Unlike surveillance, these processes are not driven by data mining and searching for adverse employee activity.
Management’s access is role-based, so organizations can control the distribution of information and ensure the right people are notified. Those managers receive secure and rapid messaging via push-based alerts from continuous behavioral risk evaluation, replete with insights and actionable policy. Each employee’s case actions and alert history are archived, as all actions and decisions are centrally and securely logged, and retained for post-action evaluation and audit.
Role-based architecture limits access so only the employer’s staff and selected leadership with necessary approved credentials can access the data, preventing information from residing in emails, notebooks, and other non-secure records. Resolve™ protects privacy and prevents information misuse, separating key data from identity information and limiting transfer exposure for personally identifiable information (PII).
This monitoring facet prevents targeting, retaliation, rumors and innuendos – augmenting employee trust and reducing toxic work environments.
Resolve™ also provides a complete audit log of who in leadership roles knew what and when. This is important because, even if organizations follow all protocols, they still face legal risks without consistent and compliant event documentation.
Resolve™ governance features help organizations learn lessons, improve processes, and correct any inaccurate data through automated dispute resolution and redress capabilities.
Resolve™ employs advanced anonymization, allowing the workflow to assess behavioral information and eliminate bias, favoritism, and discrimination, initially and throughout the standardized workflow. The platform custom filters the display of information that is being considered to meet organizational policies and terms of employment – as well as external requirements from vendors, government entities, and clients.
Effective monitoring systems such as Resolve™ also create shared safety and security objectives. Employee consent fosters participation in a secure, limited-scope program. Consent can be captured during initial background checks, as part of security or HR training, for example. For employees who opt into the full platform, a web-based reporting portal supports both on-the-record and anonymous reporting of their own or third-party incidents. Employees are encouraged to report concerns, fostering more trust between themselves and management. Organizations also may better connect troubled employees with employee assistance resources.
ClearForce is a market leader in ensuring compliance and privacy, the top priority in accessing and processing individual employee data. ClearForce partners with Littler, a preeminent privacy and employment law firm to ensure platform users maintain compliance with federal and state privacy laws – supporting compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Resolve™’s secure, centralized system also strengthens attorney-client privilege protections, and provides easier access to data for designated human resources, security, and legal departments.
Based in Vienna, VA, ClearForce is an analytic behavioral risk management company that leverages technology to provide early and ongoing detection of individual pressures and stress that could lead to misconduct or crime. It combines proven technology, decades of research and science, subject matter experts from clinical and public health, and strong business acumen to enhance employers’ monitoring.
ClearForce’s expertise and Resolve™ platform enable firms to build a monitoring program that not only protects themselves, but also aids employees – without fostering the animosity that many surveillance programs cause.