Employee Monitoring

Employee Monitoring

I am really dismayed to see a rise in prevalence of employee monitoring software. I understand that there is mistrust and nervousness about how productive employees are when working from home but I really had hoped to see that attitudes would start to shift towards monitoring the output of performance rather than the amount of minutes or actions an employee physically does. I had no idea until recently that software existed which tracks every key stroke movement and takes regular screen shots so that employee managers can see exactly what employees do during working time.

Most people that I have spoken to inform me that they have accepted employees can be as productive when working from home, even when they are home schooling. Work can be spread across the day rather than having to be completed between certain hours and the benefit to employee wellbeing is significant. I speak to employers every day and I genuinely see that business leaders trust employees and are not disappointed by lack of commitment or productivity. However, I am reading about how some employers are installing tracking software for the sole purpose of monitoring which is in direct contrast with my experience. With our advanced understanding of what makes an employment relationship healthy, this surely cannot be a positive move forward? Being monitored in this way must have a significant detrimental impact on the employment relationship, and the employee’s wellbeing.

Performance can be measured in so many different ways and the pace that people work differs so is it right that we monitor how many minutes somebody has a program open for, or the pressing of keys on their laptop, or should we be working towards developing a greater understanding of how we can measure performance through results? Time spent pressing keys should not be an important indicator of performance. Some people take more time thinking than they do typing, it doesn’t mean their work takes longer or is of poorer quality.

I am really interested to know how different organisations are planning to monitor the work and performance of their employees as we move forward. Surveys suggest that more people will work from home on a regular basis and this trend has the potential to build rather than subsist. However, do we really want to introduce employee monitoring to the degree that the employment relationship becomes wholly transactional? Working from home on a regular or permanent basis already dilutes the inclusive nature of being part of a workplace community which is going to have sopme impact. We have seen through contemporary research how important it is to develop strong employment relationships and the fiscal benefits that this brings and much work is being done to encourage this. It feels like we are potentially going to land on the head of the snake and slip all the way back to square 3 if we go down this path.

Some roles already have daily or hourly KPIs that employees are measured against so I am assuming that the increase in use of this type of software applies more to roles where the employee has greater autonomy over their day. I would like to find out more about this.

Another consideration is the power and control the employer exerts if the employee is forced to consent to being monitored in this way. Does their ongoing employment rely on this? Presumably they do have to consent for GDPR compliance? What impact does that have on the employment relationship?

How does your organisation monitor the performance of remote workers? Do you find it is necessary to know what they are doing at such a granular level? In your experience is this an attitude or is there evidence of under-performance that business leaders find it necessary to consider taking such measures?

I would really love to hear your thoughts so I can build a balanced understanding of the future of employee monitoring. Please get involved in the discussion by adding your comments and if I find that I am not alone in being bewildered by this I will consider writing a fully researched blog on the subject.

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