Is Workplace Employee Monitoring a Necessary Evil?

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Along with this greater independence comes a problem that has dogged businesses ever since remote work first emerged: how can we track worker productivity in a world where Slack channels have taken the place of water coolers?

A University of California, Irvine study from 2020 discovered a link between employee performance and micromanagement. Workers were 23% less productive when they felt that their every action was being monitored. Conversely, a study published in the Harvard Business Review found a link between productivity and trust. There was a 12% increase in productivity among workers who expressed high levels of trust in their bosses. Building trust rather than fear is the key to a sustainable workforce, as the data and numbers make abundantly evident.

Surveillance, or employee monitoring in the workplace, is the solution for many businesses. Consider it in this manner. Autonomy and trust are essential to human nature. Continuous observation conveys the unmistakable message that we are not trusted to perform our duties. This lowers morale, fosters animosity, and eventually lowers production.

What about businesses that swear by monitoring software, though? They frequently emphasize the necessity to stop data breaches and make sure workers are making the most use of their time. While these are legitimate worries, there are more effective ways to handle them. Rather of depending only on digital solutions, businesses ought to prioritize cultivating an environment that values open communication and transparency.

Examine the Situation Using a Fictitious Instance of Employee Surveillance at Work

This is a real-world example of a case study that illustrates how fostering trust may enhance a workplace. The software development company XYZ Corporation formerly had a stringent monitoring strategy. Workers developed a culture of mistrust and terror as a result of feeling as though everyone was watching them every move. Morale collapsed and production deteriorated as a result.

Things took a sharp turn for the better when the corporation decided to stop using the monitoring software, or rather to limit its use, and instead concentrate on building trust. They established open lines of communication, gave frequent feedback, and gave staff members the freedom to own their job. What was the outcome? a marked increase in invention and a happier, more efficient staff. The XYZ Corporation case serves as evidence of the value of trust. Employees behave like responsible adults when we treat them like that. 

However, there is a price associated with employee disengagement beyond all else.

Beyond just upset feelings, a disengaged remote labor has far more serious repercussions. According to a 2017 Gallup research, lost productivity, theft, and absenteeism cost the US economy between $1 trillion and $3.5 trillion annually. If workplace employee monitoring leads to disengagement, it can become a major financial burden for businesses.

The Proliferation of Privacy Compromising Employee Monitoring Applications

While some monitoring software concentrates on output, others look at personal computer use and employee communications. Serious privacy concerns are raised by this. According to a Pew Research Center research from 2023, an astounding 74% of employees worry that their employer is keeping an eye on their conversations or internet activities. Legislation limiting employee surveillance tactics has already been passed by a number of states, and more are probably going to follow.

Substitutes for Surveillance Software

It appears that there are a number of substitute tactics that businesses can use to guarantee improved worker performance and interpersonal development without turning to invasive surveillance;

Training and development: Motivated and effective workers are those who believe they possess the abilities and know-how to achieve. To keep your staff motivated and sharp, spend money on professional development opportunities and training courses.

Prioritize results above activities and working hours: Giving employees more power to determine the most effective manner to accomplish their tasks means that the emphasis has shifted from tracking activity (such as keystrokes) to measuring outputs and results.

Programs for recognizing employees: Programs for recognition can be very basic, low-cost, and successful in raising involvement and morale. When you commend and support them for going above and beyond at work, it might substantially inspire them to strive even more.

It might be necessary to fundamentally reinterpret the idea of “employee monitoring.” Better working practices can result from a more thorough discussion about employee monitoring in the workplace, which starts with acknowledging the aforementioned factors.

Therefore, the next time you’re thinking of putting employee monitoring software into place, ask yourself if it’s truly required or if you’re just following the crowd and creating an environment that encourages employee disengagement. You have a choice, but the information and concept are obvious.

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