Employee Tracking

You will read about how employers are using tracking devices to monitor employees' job-related travel and Internet use. We will discuss whether or not tracking is an effective management tool.

Pre-Reading Questions

  1. Can you explain the idiom, “keep track of”?
  2. What do you think employee tracking means?
  3. Do you think that many companies have problems with their employees using the Internet, cell-phones, e-mail, etc. for personal use during office hours?
  4. If employers have this problem, what do you think they can do to solve it?
  5. Do you know what it means to submit a travel expense to an employer?
  6. What does a civil rights group do?

Vocabulary Preview

  • vehicles: cars
  • merchandise: goods or products for sale
  • efficiently: done well and without wasting time
  • flexible: can change easily
  • mobile: able to be moved
  • subscribers: people who agree to take a service
  • reduce: lower, lessen
  • accurate: correct
  • threaten: make a sign of danger to come
  • obey: do as one is told; comply with rules or orders
  • random: done by chance, without a specific order or time
  • alert: warning
  • approximate: about; near to

Practice these new vocabulary words here: Employee Tracking

Employee Tracking

  1. Employers can now use technology to watch over their employees’ e-mail, Internet use, telephone calls, and job-related travel.
  2. The British company Followus is one of a number of companies that help businesses keep track of their employees, their vehicles, and their merchandise.
  3. Businesses can use this tracking information to operate more efficiently. For example, a business that delivers goods can have more flexible delivery schedules and one that employs sales staff or trades people can provide better customer service.
  4. Employees are tracked through their cell phones, using a computer with an Internet connection. Their phone acts as a mobile electronic device and the service provider’s Web site can locate its approximate location.
  5. More and more businesses are interested in using cell-phone tracking technology. Since starting up in 2003, Followus had gained 50,000 subscribers by 2005 and was adding 5,000 more each month. Verilocation, another British company, had 60,000 subscribers as of 2005.
  6. Most of these subscribers are small businesses wanting to reduce their operating costs. They do this by checking that employees take the shortest route to a job, that they are actually on the job when they are supposed to be, and that they submit accurate travel expense claims for each job.
  7. A British civil rights group known as Liberty believes that the use of electronic tracking may threaten employees’ rights to privacy. However, a spokesperson for Followus says this is not true because tracking companies must obey strict government regulations. Employees must agree to have their phones tracked, and every phone that is tracked must give out random alerts so that employees know their phone tracking device is still operating.
  8. Even though employees must agree to being tracked, some people believe they may lose their job if they don’t agree.
  9. Liberty is working to ensure that employers continue to comply with these regulations.

Post Reading Questions

  1. Do you think many employees use the Internet for personal use during office hours? What do you think they use the Internet for? How much office time do you think is wasted on this everyday?
  2. Do you think employers should have the right to read all employees’ e-mails that are written during office hours?
  3. Do you think many employees submit false or exaggerated travel expense claims to their employers?
  4. Do you think employee tracking leads to a loss of trust between employees and employers? If so, what is a more effective way of monitoring employees’ use of time?
  5. If your employer asked you to agree to have your cell phone tracked, would you do so? Why or why not?

Additional Resources