Why Ongoing Monitoring Isn't Spying

Those who come out against ongoing monitoring are often quick to liken it to spying and "Big Brother"—the concept made famous in George Orwell's novel 1984.

Wikipedia explains, "In modern culture, the term 'Big Brother' has entered the lexicon as a synonym for abuse of government power, particularly in respect to civil liberties, often specifically related to mass surveillance."

But legal ongoing monitoring isn't anything like secretive or all-encompassing mass surveillance. Not by a long shot. Why? One word: compliance.

Compliance with applicable laws is the cornerstone of legal ongoing monitoring. Protecting people's privacy and concerted employee activity should always remain paramount, just like it does for pre-employment background checks.

How does ongoing monitoring work?

The pre-hire background check will set the "baseline" for whatever categories are being monitored (e.g., criminal, motor vehicle records, social media, etc.).

As for how it works, ongoing monitoring does exactly that: it monitors for any new information on a go-forward basis. Any time there's new activity, the screening vendor will investigate further and provide an updated report. And here's an important point: not all new activity is negative. For example, MVR monitoring would send an alert when a driver renews or upgrades their commercial driver's license (CDL). But that's a positive change.  

The goal isn't to spy on employees and play "gotcha." The goal is to provide employers with additional insight into current employee behaviors that could jeopardize the workforce and company from a safety, financial, and legal perspective.

Could ongoing monitoring ever get out of control?

Is it possible that ongoing monitoring, in the wrong hands, could be detrimental to employees and/or the business? Here's our take: As with anything that gets into the wrong hands, it's certainly possible.

The biggest issue, as noted above, is compliance. Compliance is an incredibly complex topic with rules at the federal, state, and local levels. Not to mention—rules can and do change—quite frequently in the employment context.

A background check vendor that doesn't know what it's doing when it comes to compliance could cause your company big problems—both legally and in the minds of your employees.

That's why it's critical to work with a reputable employee screening vendor with extensive compliance expertise.

What types of ongoing monitoring are available?

There are several different types of ongoing monitoring. And what makes sense for one company might not make sense for another. Again, working with a reputable background check vendor can help ensure you put together the right mix of pre-hire screening and ongoing monitoring packages for your company.

Below are some of the more common types of ongoing monitoring.

Criminal monitoring alerts you about bad actors in your midst.

A pre-employment criminal background check continues to make sense because it can provide important insights about a person before they're hired.

But what happens after the person is hired? Remember, we're dealing with human beings. People change. They make mistakes. If a person becomes involved in criminal activity after they start working for your organization, wouldn't you want to know?

Silly question—of course you would. Because the potential consequences would be too great: think negligent retention lawsuits, low workplace morale, increased insurance premiums, and brand damage.

One of the best ways to help safeguard your organization is through ongoing criminal monitoring. The key to compliance is assessing that activity as soon as criminal monitoring flags it, and determining whether the criminal behavior is job-related and/or if continued employment of the individual could potentially cause harm to your company, your employees, or the public. If so, company policies and procedures should be followed to take necessary protective action.

Random drug testing, when instituted properly, can boost productivity and morale—and possibly lower workers' compensation premiums.

We've heard arguments that random drug testing lowers morale because of the so-called Big Brother effect. But random drug testing—when part of a transparent alcohol and drug program that follows best practices—has a good chance of boosting morale (among other things).

In fact, Occupational Health & Safety has this to say about workplace drug testing: "In addition to promoting a safer, more productive workplace, it can help to decrease employee turnover and absenteeism, reduce employer risk, and lower workers' compensation incidence rates."

MVR monitoring can help keep bad drivers off the road, which keeps insurance premiums down and saves your company from costly negligent entrustment lawsuits.

You likely have more people driving on behalf of your company than you realize. And whether they're driving a company vehicle or their own, if they're going out and conducting business for your business, this creates liability and puts your company at risk.

So, how can you mitigate this risk? Through MVR monitoring.

If you don't monitor MVRs, think about what could happen. For example, what if someone is driving with a suspended or revoked license on behalf of your company and they get in an accident and kill someone? In addition to lawsuits and brand damage, your company will face skyrocketing insurance premiums. MVR monitoring is an economical way to mitigate these risks and ensure that you only have safe drivers on the road.

Of course, accidents do happen (that’s what insurance is for), but preventable accidents involving drivers who should never have been allowed to continue driving on behalf of your company are the ones that result in multi-million dollar lawsuits.  

Ongoing social media monitoring will help HR address issues with employees before the issues escalate into costly liabilities and PR nightmares.

A person's pre-hire social media screening might be "clean." But things happen. People change. Or they eventually make missteps online and reveal their true colors.

If you're truly serious about ROI and protecting the financial health and reputation of your organization, you'll understand and appreciate the value in ongoing social media monitoring.

By monitoring for problematic online behavior (with filters for the removal of protected information) in real time, HR can promptly address issues before they escalate and become costly liabilities and PR nightmares.

Bottom Line: Ongoing Monitoring Isn't Spying

Ongoing monitoring can help protect your workforce and your company. But it's critical to work with a compliant background check vendor, like Good Egg.

Need some help? Let's chat about your employee screening needs!

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Danielle Deutsch

Posted by Danielle Deutsch

Danielle is the Senior Digital Marketing Coordinator at Good Egg & Foley Services. In her spare time you can find her either visiting an aquarium, enjoying a Broadway show or competing in a Crossfit competition.

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