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What Do We Do About Managers Who Snoop on Employees?

Our company is helping to build a light-rail train line at an airport. A key objective: demonstrating on-time performance and service, even before trains are put into operation. We required our employees to clock in and out of work as a way of maintaining schedules, but the process generated complaints. Employees say we use it to snoop, and some managers have in fact used the clock time to discipline employees. How can we better manage the process and the communication? —Uh-Oh, HR Generalist, transportation, Southeastern U.S.
April 18, 2012
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Related Topics: Employee Relations, Performance Management, Management Skills and Development, Dear Workforce
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Dear Uh-Oh:

This appears to be a company culture issue, and it might just take a little time to bring some people into the fold. To do that, the policies need to be consistent and fair, and the communication focused on why the policies are in place. From what you have laid out, there are also a couple areas to address.

First, I cringe when I hear "some" managers are using the clock time to discipline employees. There should be a clear policy and consistent enforcement: from a legal standpoint, and simply out of fairness.

Second, in my experience, complaints about snooping usually come either from salaried employees who aren't used to being treated like hourly employees or from hourly employees grown accustomed to a lax environment. For salaried employees specifically, they must understand the culture you are trying to instill and the importance of leading by example. If certain employees are used to, or simply expect, a more casual time-keeping environment, they must be brought into alignment with the new norms. You must also realize that there will always be employees who believe they can interpret policy as it relates to them.

A good approach to communication around scheduling should be about context: that each person fits into a bigger picture and that includes not only deadlines, but customer perceptions as well. An airport is an incredibly structured and time-sensitive environment and, while your team is operating there, it needs to conform to this culture.

Being mindful of any possible discrimination angles, or overtime, payroll, or union issues, having people punching in and out is certainly not an invasion of privacy. However, make sure you are listening to employees and carefully filtering complaints, because there may also be useful feedback that could improve future scheduling.

SOURCE: Scott Weston, author, HR Excellence: Improving Service Quality and Return on Investment in Human Resources

LEARN MORE: A "potentially significant ethics decline ahead" spells trouble in American workplaces, according to a recent report.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

ASK A QUESTION

 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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