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Study: IT Monitoring Stresses Workers Out

'IT surveillance can seriously damage employees' well-being,' researcher says

With so much attention focused on insider threats and data leak prevention recently, many companies are monitoring their employees more closely than ever. But be careful: Too much surveillance could lead to higher turnover and employee lawsuits, a new study says.

According to a report by the U.K.'s Policy Studies Institute, employees whose activities are monitored by IT are beginning to show signs of stress.

"The main consequence of IT surveillance has been a sharp increase in work strain, involving feelings of exhaustion, anxiety and worry related to work," the institute states. "Overall, there is a 7.5 percent increase in work strain for employees whose work is checked by IT systems, compared with those in similar jobs but controlled by more traditional methods.

"The adverse impacts of IT surveillance fall especially on administrative and white-collar employees, whose work strain went up 10 percent," the report continues. "There are also adverse impacts on semi-skilled and routine workers concentrated in manufacturing and distribution. They have an average increase in work strain of eight percent when under ICT surveillance, and they also work around three hours per week extra without additional pay."

More than half of British workers are now under some sort of IT scrutiny, which could lead to higher turnover in the workplace, according to the study. Privacy advocates say the surge in cyber monitoring could land an increasing number of employers in court, as more employees claim breaches of the U.K.'s Human Rights Act.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading