David has over 15 years supervisory experience and has extensive knowledge in how to handle personnel issues across many areas.
I have been working since I was 18 years old, and I have been a boss for over 10 years with multiple employees to supervise.
So are you being spied on by your boss? The short answer is:
Of course your boss is watching everything you do. That is part of their job and it's completely normal. It's why they are the boss. However, there are good and bad ways to be spied on, as well as reasons why it's important you should be monitored by your boss in the workplace.
This article will cover:
- How you are being spied on.
- Why you are being spied on.
- How to deal with being spied on.
- My own personal experiences with spying in the workplace.
The amount of control you have over somebody if you can monitor internet activity is amazing.
— Tim Berners-Lee
Ways Your Boss Can Spy on You
There are various ways you can be monitored by your boss—some obvious, some hidden. How do you know?
- Your boss knows about some work you did, despite you knowing it shouldn't have crossed their desk. This means your boss went back and checked the work you are doing and verified if you did it correctly. This may or may not be a good thing, but it's only natural for a boss to monitor the work of their subordinates.
- Your boss approaches you about some e-mails you sent or websites you visited. This is a very common nowadays. If you do anything on the network within your organization, your boss can see it. You should have little to no expectations of privacy on your computer.
- Your boss talks to you about a conversation you had or an action you took when you thought you were alone or out of sight. Cameras and audio recording devices in the workplace are not uncommon. They are not only for your protection, but for the company's protection as well. Keep in mind notices have to be posted if areas are being recorded.
- Your boss wants to know why you went to certain locations in a company vehicle. If your company vehicle has a GPS or other tracking device installed, your boss can see where you went and for how long.
- Your boss wants to know why you made certain purchases. It's only natural for your boss to see the transactions you are making and question you about it of something seems amiss.
- Your boss knows something that you think only your co-workers know. Your co-workers can serve as the best spies for your boss. More than likely your boss didn't even ask your co-workers to spy on you. But it happens anyways since your co-workers may be trying to get on your boss's good side.
Everything here starts with "your boss" since it will be your boss monitoring you and approaching you about these issues. You will rarely know you are being spied on unless you are told directly.
Ways You Can be Spied on in the Workplace
Recording Phone Calls
Listening in on Phone Calls
Web Browser History
Audio Recording Devices
Phone Call Logs
Customer Service Surveys
Talking to Friends/Family
Employee Monitoring Software
Why Is Your Boss Spying on You?
There are various reasons why you could be spied on by your boss in the workplace:
- It's their job! As a supervisor myself, part of my job is to monitor my employees. I purposely listen in on their conversations, watch the actions they take, etc. This is important for evaluations, to address concerns about work performance, and for me to step in, if necessary, if a situation gets out of hand.
- For your protection. What if your boss didn't monitor you? That means they are not monitoring anyone else. So a co-worker could be getting away with something that is against company policy, or worse, illegal. Wouldn't you want them to get caught and the situation handled? That's why a boss has to spy on their subordinates.
- Because they could be in trouble if they don't. Their job is on the line as well when someone under them makes a mistake. If one of their employees make a mistake, then it will look bad for them. They don't want to be in trouble as much as you don't want to be in trouble. So they have no choice but to spy on you.
- They are also being spied on by their bosses. Just as your boss is spying on you, your boss is being spied on by their boss. This goes all the way to the top of your organization.
- Because some of them like the power. Unfortunately, there are a few supervisors out there who like to spy on what their employees do because they like the power. It's a horrible reason, but not every boss is a good boss.
Not every reason to spy on an employee is a bad reason. Some do it to help the organization, themselves, or you. However, some do it just to cause trouble or because they don't like an employee.
Good and Bad Reasons Your Boss Spies on You
Required to by their boss.
They like the power.
To back you up.
Wants to get you in trouble.
Find a reason to promote you.
Wants to get you fired.
Ensure you know your job.
They don't like you.
Ensure you don't get in trouble.
They don't trust you.
Found a valid reason to monitor your work.
Heard rumors about you.
To determine the lowest performing employee to layoff.
Can My Boss Spy On Me?
Do You Think Your Boss is Spying on You?
How to Deal With Being Spied on by Your Boss
Honestly, there is no way to avoid being spied on by your boss. But there are ways to prevent that from being a problem. For example:
- Just do your job! If you just do your job, follow instructions, adhere to company policy, and be professional to customers, then you have nothing to worry about. Yes, you will be monitored, but as long as you are doing your job that won't be a big deal, and will make you look good in front of your boss.
- Watch what you say over company e-mail. E-mail is such a big deal now. Employers can pull up your e-mail as easily as you do. They can see each message you send and receive, even if you delete it. So keep your work e-mail professional.
- Watch what you say on social media websites. Your company will look up your social accounts online to see what you could be saying, especially if it's about them. It will get you fired if you insult the company or release secrets you shouldn't. Some companies even require you to give them access to your social media accounts prior to being hired.
- Be wary of your co-workers. Co-workers can be the most efficient spies for your boss. If you suspect that your co-workers are spying on behalf of your boss, don't give them any juicy details or gossip to pass on.
- Expect to be spied on. Assume each and every action you take is being watched by your supervisor, like they are over your shoulder watching. If you do that, then you will approach each task reasonably and do the right thing.
- Know it's for your own good. Being spied on isn't meant to harm you, it can be for your own good. It could be how you earn a promotion, or give your boss a way to defend you if someone accuses you of doing something wrong.
However, if you truly feel your boss is targeting you unfairly, then try to rectify the situation by talking to your boss, or taking it to your boss's boss.
Employee Fired Over Facebook Comments
Experiences With Spying in the Workplace
I have quite a few experiences dealing with being spied on and spying on my employees at work. For example:
- I was caught on camera doing something against store policy. I worked at a retail store, and sometimes we would be called to the dressing room to grab clothes to put away. I had to wait outside since people were changing in the dressing rooms and would frequently leave the room for whatever reason. As a result, I would have to wait a long time before getting clothes to put back, which wasted my time. So I would just go in and take clothes, ensuring not to look towards the dressing rooms. My boss pulled me aside and stated I couldn't do that. I found out the security guard saw me do it through one of the cameras throughout the store. I was upset at first, but years later knew they were doing what was best for the customers, organization, and myself.
- I was working at a phone center, and my boss frequently listened in on phone calls to ensure everyone was following procedure. They would light a banner to indicate when they were listening to phone calls, and despite that warning, I didn't handle my calls according to policy. They observed me enough times to determine I wasn't a good fit for that job, and terminated me.
- As a supervisor, I would go back to spot check the work that my employees processed. If I see problems, I bring it to their attention. Most were offended by this, despite me advising them it was routine. Some even felt I was targeting them. But without my intervention, there were steps that weren't completed correctly. So I felt it was necessary.
I have so many more experiences beyond this. Most of them being positive experiences. Even though I was fired from a job due to my boss monitoring my work, it was the right thing to do since I couldn't do the job I was hired for. So in many cases, your boss spying on you is necessary.
What are your thoughts and experiences in this?
Is it Unfair to be Spied on by Your Boss?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2013 David Livermore
Reena Dhiman on October 30, 2014:
Yes its true that we are constantly monitored by our boss. On one front, I think its inevitable to do in order to ensure that all employees give their cent percent to their job, but sometimes, it may cause unnecessary disruptions.