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Employee Surveillance and Investigation at Ikea, France

CASE FLYER, HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
ET Cases, 4 pages
AUTHOR(S) : Deepti Nair and Dr. Nagendra V. Chowdary

Case Preview

Employee Surveillance and Investigation at Ikea, France

 

Expected Learning Outcomes

• The various surveillance and investigation practices at workplaces
• The ethical landmines in Ikea’s worker investigation in France
• Employee surveillance and monitoring; a boon or a bane

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Employee Surveillance & Investigation: The Concept

1. According to you, what qualifies as an ethical work culture? With the advent of the Information Age, and particularly the Internet Age, employee monitoring and spying has emerged as a widespread and fast growing phenomenon. Would you term employee surveillance as an ethical practice? Justify your stand.

2. Background checks form a part of the recruitment and selection process in many companies. According to you is background verification an objectionable act? Does it tantamount to employee spying?

3. What are the various forms of employee monitoring? Do you approve of employee surveillance and investigation as a practice? Is it fair to extend employee monitoring even beyond the workplace?

4. .......................

Employee Surveillance & Investigation: Ikea’s Employee Investigation in France

1. The author in the accompanying article highlights, “A review of the court records by The New York Times... complaints against the company”. Do you think by indulging in this kind of spying Ikea overstepped its border?

2. “Values cannot be invented – they can only emerge from one place: the heart. IKEA values are very much a product of our origin,” states the company on its official website. On the other hand, Ikea (France) spent more than 475,000 in investigations within a decade. What does this discrepancy in Ikea’s words and actions indicate?

3. ............................

Employee Surveillance & Investigation: Boon or Bane

1. In jobs involving confidential, high-level research or in the intelligence services, employee monitoring is not an uncommon practice. Do you think there is a relationship between employee monitoring and the nature of job or industry?

2. Does resorting to employee monitoring or investigation in the above mentioned scenarios indicate a lack a trust on employees or is it just a measure undertaken to pre-empt any future possible damage?

3. .................

Teaching Note Preview

Employee Surveillance and Investigation at Ikea, France

 

Synopsis

This case flyer focuses on the issue of employee surveillance and monitoring; and its ethical implications. It deliberates on the various forms of monitoring techniques employed by employers and whether such a close watch is acceptable beyond workplaces? The base article1 showcases the manner in which Ikea, the Swedish furniture group, had resorted to employee spying and investigations on numerous grounds. What are the various forms of monitoring employees? Which activities can an organization monitor and vice versa? For what reasons do organizations indulge in such monitoring and surveillance activities. In certain scenarios, monitoring equipment like closed circuit televisions provide crucial information pertaining to thefts or other nefarious activities at workplaces. Do the negatives of such forms of surveillance outweigh their benefits? Is employee monitoring a boon or a bane?

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • • The various surveillance and investigation practices at workplaces
  • • The ethical landmines in Ikea’s worker investigation in France
  • • Employee surveillance and monitoring; a boon or a bane

 

Positioning and Setting

This case flyer can be used in the following course:

  • a) Human Resource Management – Ethics and fair treatment at work
  • b) Organizational Behavior – Creating an Ethical Organizational Culture – Is employee monitoring and surveillance an ethical workplace practice?

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Suggested Orchestration

Before the Case Flyer Discussion in the Classroom

a) The students were asked to watch the movie The Recruit2 before we could discuss this case flyer.

b) This movie, set in the backdrop of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), depicts how the protagonist is constantly under surveillance, not barring even his personal interactions and encounters.

c) Watching this movie prior to the case flyer discussion helped students gain perspective regarding the concept of spying. It also helped them debate whether employee spying is justified only in certain professions or is it fair to resort to the same irrespective of the industry or nature of the job.

d) Most importantly, prior to the actual classroom discussion, the students were encouraged to analyze all the questions given in the case flyer (either individually or in learning teams or appropriate discussion forums) to enable them to participate effectively and enrich the learning outcomes.

During the Case Flyer Discussion in the Classroom

This case flyer was effectively discussed in the classroom under three broad topics.......

The flow of questions to be discussed in the classroom has been elaborated in Annexure (TN)-I: The Board Plan

I. Employee Surveillance & Investigation: The Concept

• Before the discussion on this case flyer could commence, a piece of news was shared with the class. They were informed that all their activities before this session had been monitored and recorded. This bit of information sent a wave of uneasiness amongst the students. What was interesting to note was that the students became more aware of their surroundings and their behavior once this information was shared with them.

• Having sensed the discomfort, it was revealed that this exercise was merely undertaken to sensitise students towards the feeling of being under scrutiny, especially without being informed beforehand. At this juncture, students were asked to recall how James Clayton, the protagonist in the movie, The Recruit, might have felt while being under constant surveillance. Sensing that the students’ were eager to commence the discussion, a question was posed to them – what according to them qualified as an ethical work culture and whether employee monitoring was an ethical workplace practice?

• The discussion progressed further to deliberate on whether background verification by companies was an acceptable practice and what were the various forms of employee spying methods. Students broadly classified employee spying methods under the following categories:

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Exhibits

Exhibit (TN)-I: Types of Employee Monitoring

Exhibit (TN)-II: Company’s Investigative Practice and its Impact on an Individual

Annexure

Annexure (TN)-I: Board Plan

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Abstract


This case flyer and the accompanying article1 enables a discussion on the controversial and debatable practice of employee surveillance and monitoring. What is employee monitoring and why are employers engaging in employee investigation and surveillance? Is employee monitoring an acceptable workplace practice? What are the acceptable forms of employee monitoring? This case flyer provides ample scope to debate on such intriguing questions. With the growing dependence on Internet in the modern day information age, employees end up creating an electronic trail through what they consider as mere innocuous online interactions, giving others the power to monitor and record not only their professional but also their personal lives. Should organizations be allowed to monitor employees at workplace and beyond? Do employees have a right to know that they are being watched? This case flyer stirs up an interesting debate on whether employee monitoring and spying is a boon or a bane?



Pedagogical Objectives

  • To understand the various surveillance and investigation practices at workplaces
  • To deliberate on the ethical landmines in Ikea's worker investigation in France
  • To debate on whether employee surveillance and monitoring is a boon or a bane


1 Nicola Clark, 'Ikea's Spying of Employees Sparks Outrage in France' The Economic Times, December 17th 2013



This Case Pack Includes:
- Abstract
- Case Flyer
- Analysis


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