Work from home and hybrid work are here to stay.
Instead of bringing employees back to the office, companies around the world are investing millions in digital employee experiences (Digital Employee Experiences, or DEX for short), which reduce friction and improve employee performance.
This includes HR systems, video calling tools, workflows and more.
At the same time, the shift to remote work encouraged companies to adopt spyware technologies to monitor employee productivity.
Although many companies have justification for monitoring employees digitally, ethical and legal implications call into question the effectiveness of this practice.
Follow the employees?
You may be shooting yourself in the foot. (Photo: Pexels.com)
Remote employee monitoring - about what and why?
Employee monitoring and tracking software usually includes screenshots throughout the day, recording of keystrokes and mouse clicks, analyzing the frequency and duration of work and tracking the use of websites.
Companies implement these monitoring tools to know how employees spend their time, measure their productivity, and protect the interests of the business.
However, none of these indicators refer to what is really important: the results, the quality of the work, and the achievement of the goals.
Ironically, data from spyware is a poor measure of productivity because it doesn't capture the important work that happens behind the screen.
For example, checkout employees who were required to scan products quickly claimed that this came at the expense of courteous and patient customer service, and employees who were required to show frequent activity on the computer found themselves clicking the mouse unnecessarily.
There is no doubt that this misses the mark, but when companies choose to cut the wages of hourly workers based on spy data, due to routine breaks they took during the workday, what wonder that instead of bringing results they are busy surviving?
The harm of employee surveillance
Company leaders are concerned about productivity.
Although 87% of employees reported to Microsoft that they are more productive when working from home, 85% of managers said that due to the shift to hybrid work, they have difficulty knowing whether employees are being productive.
In the name of productivity, 78% of employers use surveillance technologies, and this is despite the fact that 83% of them admit that it is unethical.
The same survey shows that 43% of remote workers feel that employee monitoring violates their trust;
59% feel anxious;
26% feel resentment, and 28% feel unappreciated when they are under surveillance.
This type of supervision damages the relationship with the employees and causes them to lie, cheat, or pretend they are working.
According to a 2021 Gartner survey, monitored workers are almost twice as likely to engage in counterfeiting.
Another survey found that employees under surveillance spend more than an hour online each day on average, just to be seen by colleagues and managers.
Researchers have discovered many paradoxical effects of employee surveillance.
Supervised employees tend to engage in more negative behaviors, including damaging and stealing property from the workplace, taking unauthorized breaks, ignoring instructions, working at a deliberately slow pace, and blaming others for their actions.
If that's not a quiet resignation, then I don't know what is.
In a survey by Morning Consult, nearly 60% of technology workers said they would turn down job offers that are monitored using audio or video to enforce productivity.
About half would leave their workplace if the employer decided to use audio and/or video surveillance, facial recognition, keystroke tracking or screenshots.
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What do employees want?
On a mental level, employees want to feel valued.
They want to feel trusted and trusted.
They want to feel it even on days they are less productive and when they make mistakes.
When they don't feel it, motivation drops and frustration rises.
On a technical level, employees want to have a good employee experience that encompasses all aspects of their interaction with technology, including quality, ease of use and reliability, inclusion, accessibility and other aspects of user experience.
Unlike monitoring tools, DEXs improve productivity by monitoring things like device performance, network speed, app crashes, and the like.
They use this data to improve the technology experience of employees, finding and fixing problems before they cause delays and frustration.
At the same time, you monitor the sentiment of the employees - and not the employees themselves - regarding the user experiences, in order to continuously improve them behind the scenes.
In a survey by the research company 1E that examined the issue of productivity when working from home, about 90% of employees said that there is room to improve the digital experience in the company where they work;
82% said the delayed resolution of technical issues slows down employees;
And 68% say digital employee experiences have a high or critical level of impact on company revenue.
Employers looking to improve the performance of their employees would be wise to invest in a DEX rather than a spying and tracking tool.
In direct continuation of this, systems for managing tasks in remote teams such as Monday and Asana will help you stay on top of things when the focus is not on hourly delivery but on results and achievements.
Want to monitor employees?
This is how you do it right
If there is no escape from conducting digital surveillance of your employees, you better do it properly.
Here are some tips that will help you reduce risks and maintain good relations with your employees.
Never secretly monitor employees
The monitoring method that is considered the most unethical, and in most cases even illegal, is monitoring employees without their knowledge or consent.
This practice is considered legal when employers suspect negligence, and want to catch employees red-handed.
However, companies that simply want to keep an eye on their employees without telling them could face serious legal consequences.
To avoid this, employees must know that they are being monitored and for this purpose a clear monitoring policy must be created, including consent forms that explain in detail what you are going to monitor, what data you are going to collect, how you will save it and who will be able to access it.
Monitor only during working hours
It is not uncommon for employees to use their business laptops for personal matters while on a break or after their shift is over.
Those who use surveillance software during these hours may record sensitive personal data that may affect them legally.
To avoid the problem, the use of company-owned laptops for personal use should be prohibited, or employees should be allowed to turn off the tracking tools when the shift ends or while they are on a break.
It will also make employees more relaxed about monitoring as they will have full control over the software and what it monitors.
Avoid collecting personal data
Most employee monitoring software comes with a screenshot feature that is activated at intervals chosen by the employer.
It could be every five minutes or every hour.
The more invasive software will allow you to record the screen on video and will track keyboard and mouse keystrokes.
Although screenshots are used as proof of work, taking them at the wrong time, such as when employees are browsing social media or logging into their bank account, means you're collecting personal data you don't want to have.
To this end, some tracking software offers an option to limit the screenshots to only work-related apps and websites.
Use the data you have collected to improve business processes
Ethical use of employee monitoring software is defined not only by how the data is collected, but also by how it is used.
Anyone who uses a tracking tool just to spy on employees is simply wasting their time.
To really get the best out of them and keep employees motivated, a precise plan is required.
Ask yourself why you actually want to monitor your employees, what data you need, and how you will use it to achieve your goals.
For example, if you're using monitoring software to increase team productivity, make sure you have a reliable productivity metric (most software calculates this automatically) and then instead of looking for culprits, look at what's causing productivity to go up or down.
Is it the fact that too much time is wasted in meetings?
Are employees spending more time than necessary on social media?
Find the problems that cause bottlenecks and deal with them point by point through a direct conversation with the employees.
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