Survey: Many Companies Monitoring, Recording, Videotaping Employees

Statistics show rise in surveillance of workers

Far fewer employers monitor employees' voice mail messages, with 15% reporting that they tape or review voice mail.

To help manage employees' telephone use, employers apply a combination of policy and discipline. Twenty-seven percent have a written policy governing personal cell phone use at the office, and another 19% use policy to help control the capture and transmission of images via camera phones. Six percent of companies have fired employees for misusing office phones, and another 22% have issued formal reprimands to those who abuse phone privileges.

Video Surveillance

More than half of the companies surveyed use video monitoring to counter theft, violence and sabotage (51% in 2005 vs. 33% in 2001). The number of companies that use video surveillance to track employees' on-the-job performance has also increased, with 10% now videotaping selected job categories and 6% videotaping all employees. Among companies that videotape workers, 85% notify employees of the practice.

Global Satellite Positioning & Emerging Surveillance Technology

Employers have been slow to adopt emerging monitoring and surveillance technologies to help track employee productivity and movement. Employers who use Assisted Global Positioning or Global Positioning Systems satellite technology are in the minority, with only 5% using GPS to monitor cell phones; 8% using GPS to track company vehicles; and 8% using GSP to monitor employee ID/Smartcards.

The majority (53%) of companies employ Smartcard technology to control physical security and access to buildings and data centers. Trailing far behind is the use of technology that enables fingerprint scans (5%), facial recognition (2%), and iris scans (0.5%).

The 2005 Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey is co-sponsored by American Management Association ( and The ePolicy Institute ( A total of 526 U.S. companies participated: 23% represent companies employing 100 or fewer workers, 101-500 employees (25%), 501-1,000 (10%), 1,001-2,500 (13%), 2,501-5,000 (7%) and 5,001 or more (22%). In 2004, 840 U.S. businesses participated in the 2004 Workplace E-Mail & IM Survey from American Management Association and The ePolicy Institute. In 2001, 435 U.S. companies participated in the 2001 Electronic Policies & Procedures Survey from American Management Association and The ePolicy Institute.