Managing workplace relations is a complex task that requires specific skills, knowledge, and awareness of the current situation regarding the quality of communication among employees. As the name implies, labor relations are legal interactions between staff and employers to attain organizational goals and obtain a mutual benefit (Teicher, Holland, and Gough, 2013). For example, a company receives a financial benefit from high-quality services provided by employees who, in return, get monetary rewards from their firm. Indeed, this task became even more difficult since various employment types, like reversible part-time workers, annualized working hours, remote positions, and flexible schedules, were introduced (Teicher, Holland, and Gough, 2013). Another critical modification that was done to workplace relations in Australia is decentralization. Specifically, the 1996 Workplace Relations Act attempted to empower individual contractors, reduce the power of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, and protect employees from unfair dismissal (Bamber et al., 2020). Since labor interaction involves not only cooperation but also conflicts, it is essential to introduce monitoring and surveillance to make fair and justified decisions about disputes.
Benefits of Surveillance and Monitoring
There are several advantages to the surveillance and monitoring of employees at a workplace. The first benefit is the opportunity to monitor workers’ attendance and detect lateness. The second advantage is that this system allows fair resolution of conflicts within a company because surveillance gives a relatively objective depiction of a particular situation. Furthermore, it enables controlling the quality of performed duties, allowing timely interventions to discuss issues associated with the quality of completed tasks (Bamber et al., 2020). Lastly, monitoring is an effective way to prevent bullying, harassment, and discrimination in the workplace.
Despite the enormous benefit of workplace monitoring, it can also be harmful. For example, employees may lose trust in their employers and each other. Furthermore, it may result in team alienation because of elevated emotional stress associated with a constant feeling of being watched (Teicher, Holland, and Gough, 2013). Moreover, excessive and inappropriate surveillance may lead to legal violations of workers’ autonomy and privacy that can harm a firm’s reputation in the market.
Methods of Surveillance
Modern technologies provide a wide variety of surveillance methods for employers. For instance, establishing video recording devices in companies was legally approved in Australia in 2011 according to the Workplace Privacy Act (Teicher, Holland, and Gough, 2013). Furthermore, according to this law, electronic devices provided by an employer are eligible for monitoring (Teicher, Holland, and Gough, 2013). Moreover, corporate emails usually undergo surveillance; however, social media monitoring often requires employees’ consent (Teicher, Holland, and Gough, 2013). It appears that these methods of controlling workplace relations are legal.
The surveillance system in my future organization will be introduced gradually to avoid the staff’s misunderstanding and resistance. The first step in the implementation program will be to notify workers about the monitoring in the company. Next, organizational leaders and managers should reassure the staff that private places, like restrooms and dressing rooms, will not be subject to video tracking. The third step will be conducting an online survey to reveal the attitudes and perturbations of employees about the surveillance to adjust the program if necessary.
Working relations between employees and employers should maintain transparency, especially when it concerns monitoring and surveillance. Indeed, the company will not place hidden bugs and cameras in private places. Moreover, video records will only be used in conflicting or doubtful situations that will influence a worker’s future destiny in the company. Notably, if harassment and discrimination are observed, videos will also be used to make decisions about these particular cases. Lastly, social media surveillance will not be purposefully conducted, but the staff will be encouraged to conduct it professionally, even online.
Although technology allows one to observe all details of a particular event, an organization should always employ objectivity in case resolution. Indeed, video records should only be the additional material, not the central decision-making resource; hence, listening to the opinions of the conflicting sides is crucial. Moreover, minor accidents that are immediately fixed can be ignored to prevent creating additional stress for employees.
Preserving Employee Privacy and Autonomy
Violation of employees’ privacy and autonomy is not only unethical but also illegal. Specifically, the Workplace Privacy Act prohibits monitoring such places as toilets, change rooms, prayer rooms, and first aid offices (Teicher, Holland, and Gough, 2013). Therefore, my future organization will abide by the law and maintain the staff’s autonomy. Moreover, the company will not control what pictures workers post on social media; however, they will be notified that information that may offend their colleagues or affect the firm’s reputation should not be released.
In summary, workplace relations between employees and employers are complex, demanding specific knowledge, skills, and real-time data about the current situation inside a firm. The latter can be obtained from monitoring using video cameras and corporate hardware and software control. The benefits of surveillance include access to material for resolving conflicting situations and the prevention of inappropriate behavior. However, the disadvantages of this system are increased emotional stress to workers and loss of trust in an employer. Thus, introducing surveillance in a new company requires collaboration, transparency, objectivity, and respect for employees’ privacy.
Bamber, G.J. et al. (eds.) (2020) International and Comparative Employment Relations. 6th edn. New York, NY: Routledge.
Teicher, J., Holland, P. and Gough, R. (eds.) (2013) Australian Workplace Relations. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.