Electronic monitoring and surveillance in the workplace: The effects on trust in management, and the moderating role of occupational type

Peter Jeffrey Holland, Brian Cooper, Rob Hecker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - Electronic monitoring and surveillance (EMS) practices provide new challenges in the workplace. The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between EMS in the workplace on employees trust in management. Design/methodology/approach - This paper is based upon data from the 2012 Australian Electronic Workplace Survey of 500 randomly sampled employees. Controlling for a range of personal, job and workplace characteristics, the data were analysed using OLS and ordered probit regression. Findings - The regression analyses identified that EMS has, on average, a negative relationship with trust in management. The authors further differentiated the sample to examine the potential impact of EMS on trust between manual and non-manual employees. The study found the relationship between EMS and trust in management was only evident for manual workers. Research limitations/implications - Future research should investigate the extent to which employee attitudes, commitment and engagement are impacted, and the individual-level and organisational-level outcomes of EMS. Causal inferences are necessarily limited and the research does not address managers underlying motives. Although self-reported data on EMS reflect objectively measured characteristics of the organisation. Practical implications - EMS can have negative effects on the employment relationship through the loss of trust in management, especially for manual workers. Tangible effects may flow from this through withdrawal behaviour such as employee exit from the organisation. Social implications - The findings of this study provide evidence to add to the debate on the extent and impact of EMS in the workplace and its impact on employees, the employment relationship and productivity. Originality/value - Workplace surveillance is one of the most contentious issues facing employers, workers, unions, government and legal experts. However, little research has been undertaken on the effects of EMS on important job-related attitudes such as trust. The current paper remedies some of these deficits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161 - 175
Number of pages15
JournalPersonnel Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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