The success of organizations today is considerably dependent on their management of privacy regarding crucial business data and employees’ details. Companies that value the need for protecting the privacy of important stakeholders such as employees create a productive workplace environment, thereby enhancing their overall success. On the other hand, infringing on workers’ privacy poses adverse effects on their independence and, consequently, productivity. As a result, the contemporary business environment supports the use of technological innovations to facilitate the accessibility of private information.
Nonetheless, businesses are keen not to divulge sensitive data regarding employees or any other classified company-related information. Christianity also protects the privacy of individuals in any given setting, including the corporate world. However, as will be revealed in this paper, some organizations have incorporated digital technologies to monitor workers’ activities in a manner that undermines their privacy. Such practices contradict Christian teachings on the issue of privacy. Hence, it is crucial to examine what the existing literature captures regarding technology and business privacy with a view to finding out any similarities and differences in secular and Christian perceptions of this issue.
In a study by Willis (2014), modern organizations have deployed various technologies such as “facial recognition programs, eye tracking systems, and geolocation sensors” (p. 64) that scrutinize workers’ day-to-day engagements with the hope that such a move will push them to always remain committed to their tasks. Such computerized employee-monitoring systems have been identified as resourceful in mitigating fraud in the business environment (Willis, 2014). Ferrell, Fraedrich, and Ferrell (2017) identify technological monitoring systems for business-related activities as effective toward protecting workers’ privacy since they reveal their engagements only to authorized parties. According to studies conducted by Martin (2016) and Sheth, Wasti, and Smith (2016), the deployment of employee-monitoring strategies is a useful means of managing workers’ behaviors in workplace environments. Many organizations believe that such smart technologies boost productivity. In particular, Sheth et al. (2016) regard the application of technologies that monitor workers’ online activities as a crucial step toward enhancing organizational profitability because this strategy eliminates time wastage among employees.
Secular Worldviews Regarding Technology and Business Privacy
However, Chang, Liu, and Lin (2015) have a different perspective. According to them, the use of electronic devices to facilitate the process of monitoring employees’ activities has the potential of increasing the severity of job-related problems (Chang et al., 2015). In particular, communication privacy turbulence in the organization has a negative effect on workers’ output since it undermines their trust in the employee-monitoring policy. The decreased confidence mostly results from the failure of supervisors to refrain from using technologies that reveal employees’ private information. As Richards (2015) indicates, the effective management of employee-related information reduces the chances of an organization experiencing legal issues that may harm its reputation. This finding concurs with the study conducted by Hosmer (2011), which emphasizes the importance of proper handling of information collected using employee-monitoring technologies. Whelan, McDuff, Gleasure, and VomBrocke (2018) underline that staff members in charge of emotion-sensing technologies should seek workers’ consent before sharing their details with third parties for intervention. As such, observing the laid-down ethical standards in the management of computerized employee-monitoring systems is appropriate in the contemporary business setting.
Biblical Perspectives Regarding Technology and Business Privacy
The Bible discourages the exposure of people’s secret details. Specifically, it states, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things, which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29, The New King James Version). Christians believe that God knows all their secrets, which should only be revealed to appropriate individuals and their children. Hence, adherents of the Bible emphasize the need for effectively managing private information. Classified data should be shared with authorized parties. The Bible narrates the story of Noah’s sons to illustrate the adverse consequences of failing to protect the privacy of other individuals. From a Christian’s point of view, this child invaded his father’s privacy. He saw his nakedness when he was drunk. After waking up from his nakedness, Noah realized what had happened and cursed Canaan, the son of Ham (Genesis 9:20-27).
Hence, it is apparent that Christianity recognizes the need for protecting the privacy of individuals in different settings, including the workplace environment. Christians forbid the forceful revelation of employees’ information in the organizational environment. As such, an organization should only focus on monitoring employees’ business-related activities in a way that does not disclose their personal data. Therefore, Christians do not discourage the deployment of technology to monitor workers’ day-to-day operations. Instead, they prohibit the use of monitoring systems to divulge individuals’ private information without their consent.
Similarities between Christianity and Secular Thoughts on Technology and Business Privacy
From the above literature review, both the secular world and the Christian world appreciate the importance of protecting people’s privacy amid the incorporation of technology to monitor business-related activities. In a study by Ferrell et al. (2017), it is crucial for organizations to incorporate technological innovations in the workplace environment to scrutinize employees’ business-related activities without undermining their privacy. As a result, an organization also minimizes possible losses that may arise from fraudulent activities undertaken by employees in the absence of digital monitoring systems (Willis, 2014).
Therefore, for businesses to safeguard the confidentiality of their data, including that of employees with a view to preventing deceitful activities, Christians and the secular world agree that digital monitoring devices in the workplace setting are essential. The Bible and worldly people support the limited exposure of private information when monitoring people’s activities. As noted in scriptures, private information should strictly be revealed within the confines of close family members (Deuteronomy 29:29). Therefore, Christians believe that using technology to monitor employees and expose their sensitive information to audiences other than themselves and their family is a sin. As such, it is crucial for adherents to refrain from invading the privacy of other individuals.
Similarly, the business world, which is characterized by secularism, regards data breaches or espionage as unethical. According to Hosmer (2011), the use of employee-monitoring technology should be based on ethical principles that address issues such as information infringement, which may undermine workers’ rights. The effective management of people’s data calls for the application of safety measures that prevent the revelation of business-related private information to unauthorized parties. This approach fosters the establishment of a sound decision, enhances employees’ levels of concentration, and eradicates stressful workplace conditions (Whelan et al., 2018). As such, the proper management of private information when applying employee-monitoring technologies is a significant subject in the contemporary business world.
Both Christianity and secularism associate the infringement of privacy with various adverse consequences. The Bible uncovers that the consequence of invading one’s privacy is a curse that follows the family of the invader and future generations to come. Indeed, a curse extended to unborn people is an adverse effect of interfering with the privacy of any given party (Genesis 9:20-27). Since a cursed family is less likely to be prosperous, the impact may be compared to a company that fails to protect the privacy of its employees when monitoring their business-related activities.
According to Chang et al. (2015), the failure of an organization to safeguard the privacy of employees’ information may undermine their well-being and, consequently, their output. Such reduced productivity arising from the infringement of workers’ privacy has an adverse effect on an organization’s overall performance. Therefore, there is a need for organizations to apply technologies that facilitate the creation of a more effective setting for employee monitoring. As Ferrell et al. (2017) reveal, an organization that engages in data breaches denotes the extent to which it creates an environment of unethical practices while conducting business operations. Such allegations can tarnish companies’ image and, consequently, their competitiveness.
Differences between Christianity and Secular Thoughts on Technology and Business Privacy
Christians believe that it is impossible for them to protect their secrets from God, a belief that is not upheld by the secular world of business. In particular, the book of Deuteronomy Chapter 29 verse 29 states that all secret things belong to God. In this view, God knows all confidential activities done by Christians following their actions and interactions with others. Christians believe that the omnipresence and all-knowing nature of God makes it possible for Him to have a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of humanity. As such, since God is aware of people’s secrets, there is no need for the use of technologies to monitor their different activities in settings such as the workplace environment.
Conversely, the contemporary business world, which mostly upholds secular values, identifies the integration of employee-monitoring technology as essential in fostering the success of organizations. The secular world disregards the all-knowing and omnipresence character of God in the business setting by supporting the use of technologies that scrutinize employees’ business-related activities. According to Ziegeldorf, Morchon, and Wehrle (2014), the changing technology landscape influences workers’ behaviour in a way that may affect their performance. Hence, contrary to Biblical perspectives, secularism identifies the incorporation of innovations that monitor people’s activities as a mandatory requirement.
According to Christian teachings, secret things should never be exposed, regardless of the importance of the information required. This situation differs from what is upheld in the secular world of contemporary business. As uncovered in the Bible, it is wrongful to forcefully expose concealed personal information (Deuteronomy 29:29). Hence, Christian workers believe that employers have no right to expose their information to particular audiences without consent. Furthermore, the Bible reveals that specified family members, especially parents and their children, should be granted access to private information. Therefore, Christian adherents believe that their information should not be exposed to other parties other than close relatives. Otherwise, as opposed to the use of technologies where information is continuously retrieved without the awareness of workers, Christians believe that consent should be sought before one decides to share any details with audiences beyond the individual’s appropriate family member.
Contrarily, some organizations fail to effectively deal with the confidentiality of their stakeholders’ data, especially when applying employee-monitoring technologies. As Richards (2015) points out, many contemporary companies lack inefficient approaches to digital management, a situation that results in devastating outcomes such as the loss of the intellectual property of individual employees. Furthermore, the lack of adequate information management systems has rendered employee-monitoring technologies ineffective due to the rising cases of data breaches and espionage. For example, an organization may share workers’ information with their business partners. Their aim may be to realize particular objectives without seeking the required approval. In this concern, the embracement of digital systems for monitoring business-related activities has not fully considered the protection of private information in the business world as it is expected in Christianity.
As earlier mentioned, the Bible identifies the curse extended to kinfolks and heirs as the consequence of privacy invasion. Secular individuals in the business setting do not consider this outcome. The Bible reveals that Noah cursed Ham and his kinfolks after they contravened his privacy rights (Genesis 9:20-27). In this view, Christians view the curse that extends to generations as the greatest penalty for failing to protect other people’s confidentiality. Therefore, misery follows individuals who undermine other people’s right to privacy. Christianity applies a social kind of penalty that affects several generations of the party intruding on the privacy of another individual such as an employee.
On the contrary, secularism does not associate the infringement of privacy with generational curses. Instead, it links the issue to legal and economic consequences. Hosmer (2011) uncovers that the use of technology in a way that damages employees’ confidentiality is unethical. It also interferes with a company’s public standing. Consequently, this poor image may undermine the competitiveness of an organization in its industry of operation. Furthermore, according to Richards (2015), the ineffective use of employee-monitoring technologies may result in privacy issues that prompt legal actions against an institution. Penalties arising from the legal determination may also affect the financial standing of the concerned organization. Therefore, it is important for businesses to consider the underlying impacts of improper information management on their overall performance.
Technological advancements have made it possible for organizations to deploy employee-monitoring systems. Christians and people in the secular world believe that private information about employees should not be forcefully exposed to unauthorized parties. However, the secular world does not strictly observe privacy as denoted by cases of privacy intrusion when using computer-aided monitoring systems. As such, there is a need for businesses to emphasize the issue of strictness provided by Christian teachings regarding privacy. As a result, organizations stand a higher chance of realizing greater productivity after creating a monitoring environment that upholds the importance of concealing their business-related activities.
Chang, S. E., Liu, A. Y., & Lin, S. (2015). Exploring privacy and trust for employee monitoring. Industrial Management & Data Systems, 115(1), 88-106.
Ferrell, O. C., Fraedrich, J., & Ferrell, L. (2017). Business ethics: Ethical decision making and cases. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Hosmer, L. T. (2011). The ethics of management: A multidisciplinary approach (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill/Irwin.