ARG-035

The vice president for human resources at Climpson Industries sent the following recommendation to the company's president.

"In an effort to improve our employees' productivity, we should implement electronic monitoring of employees' Internet use from their workstations. Employees who use the Internet inappropriately from their workstations need to be identified and punished if we are to reduce the number of work hours spent on personal or recreational activities, such as shopping or playing games. Installing software on company computers to detect employees' Internet use is the best way to prevent employees from wasting time on the job. It will foster a better work ethic at Climpson and improve our overall profits."


Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.


In this recommendation, the vice president proposes the usage of electronic monitoring software at Climpson Industries. He/she further predicts that such software would help preclude the employees from wasting time and thereby increase their productivity, in turn contributing to an overall increase in profits. While this may be the case, close scrutiny reveals that the conclusion lacks critical support and therefore we need more evidence to help evaluate the argument.

Firstly, I need to know whether there is sufficient need to initiate the electronic monitoring software at Climpson Industries. While the vice presidents refers to a recent national survey which shows the tendency of most workers to spend work time on personal or recreational activities, I question whether this also occurs at Climpson. If the employees at Climpson are highly self-disciplined and will in all circumstances refrain from participating in distracting activities, then the vice president’s recommendation is deprived of a significant premise and is thereby unreasonable. Even if some employees at Climpson do spend some time engaging in personal or recreational activities, we still need to question whether such behavior has reached a point that has impaired their working efficiency and therefore jeopardized the overall profits of Climpson. If the answer turns out to be yes, then I agree with the vice president and wholly support the application of the electronic monitoring software; otherwise, the suggestion might need further consideration.

Granted there are a significant number of employees at Climpson who are distracted by non-working activities, which supports adoption of the electronic monitoring software, the efficiency of this software in preventing people from wasting time is open to doubt. On the one hand, even if the software is implemented, we still need to know whether the employees will try various means to avoid detection. In all likelihood, they would. If the employees manage to elude the monitoring software, then the effort to prevent them from wasting time on personal or recreational activities will have been in vain. On the other hand, even if this software impedes employees from becoming distracted by online activities, will they choose to waste their time in other ways instead? These may include snoozing or chatting. We cannot know the answer to this. Employees who are by nature sluggish will always be reluctant to work without distraction and any policy against their sloth will likely be futile.

Even if the usage of the electronic monitoring software generates a subsequent conspicuous decrease of employee distraction, we are unclear of whether this software will further contribute to increased productivity and overall profits. Specifically we need to know if the usage of this software will provoke discontent or resent from the employees. Any evidence showing that the solution proposed by the author will deliver negative results to the employees’ productivity will serious undermine the author’s conclusion.


To draw a conclusion, we need further proof to form a better evaluation of the argument. Only after weighing all of the evidence which serves to weaken the argument as well as those supporting the argument, can we come to a decision about the soundness of this argument.

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