A great organization monitors its employees not because it distrusts its workers; rather, monitoring them is one of the surefire ways to improve productivity and efficiency across the whole business architecture.
With today’s emerging technologies and innovations, employee monitoring tools have become more advanced, accurate, thorough, and discreet. Bundy clocks and punch cards are a thing of the past. Spreadsheets have given way to more modern means to document employee attendance and manage tasks. Employees don’t even have to be at the office to submit performance reports and other documents.
There is no question that modern employees are becoming more comfortable with today’s types of employee monitoring. As 2020 rolls on, these latest trends in employee monitoring software will become more prevalent and may change the way businesses and organizations keep a close eye on their workers.
1. Monitor Employees via IoT
The Internet of Things is truly disrupting many conventional business processes and methods, employee monitoring included. With IoT, devices and sensors are paired with each other. This bond allows them to communicate with each other, store data, and relay them to other devices and sensors with minimal human effort.
How does IoT play a role within the context of employee monitoring? For one, IoT locates a worker’s location within the premises of the workplace by tracking that person’s mobile device. Office equipment such as computers, printers, and laptops can capture critical data such as users, activities, length of use, files accessed, and more.
Say John is working on a presentation. The computer he is on automatically logs all activities under his username or profile. These include the time he started and ended, programs he opened, browsers he used, sites he searched, and the number of pages he printed. Said information can be exported directly HR and automatically logged in HR software statistics.
All this wealth of data enables the management to glean actionable insights into his performance, his patterns, and tendencies. With such actionable data, management is able to not just monitor John’s actions, but also find ways to further improve his performance and streamline his tasks.
John is just an example of how IoT can impact employee monitoring. That said, questions on ethics, particularly on employees’ privacy, hound the implementation of IoT as a tool for tracking employees. Experts agree that a compromise will be reached where IoT can be integrated as a monitoring tool without going over employees’ privacy rights.
2. Smartphones as Monitoring Devices
Remote employee monitoring software and tools continue to gain immense popularity together with the rise of the mobile workforce. This development coincides with the increasing number of businesses employing remote workers and professional freelancers, most of which are comprised of young workers from Generation Z who just entered the labor market.
This particular work demographic accounts for approximately 61 million workers in the United States, according to a 2018 report by CNBC. One particular description used to mark out most members of Generation Z is that they are tech-savvy and are constantly hooked on their smartphones.
Now, this is an important piece of information in the realm of employee monitoring. How so? According to a 2019 study by WorkJam, 66% of hourly retail employees surveyed said they prefer to use their personal smartphones for work-related purposes like scheduling, reporting, and learning/training.
There are already a number of popular desktops and smartphone-based employee monitoring apps available today. But it won’t be long before smartphones become the unanimous employee monitoring tool preferred by both employers and remote workers/freelancers. Once the number of Generation Z workers increases, it will be a matter of when.
3. Keep Workers Safe via Wearables
Employee monitoring is not just about improving employees’ performance and increasing efficiency. It’s also there to keep workers safe. For many years, industries continue to toil and craft safety regulations and practices to create a safer work environment for employees.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 5,250 work-related fatalities in 2018, a slight increase of 2% back in 2017. You don’t want your workers to be part of that gruesome statistics.
Some professions present a higher degree of danger than other fields. Workers that operate in hazardous environments need more than just monitoring. They need active protection to ensure their safety and reduce their exposure to occupational hazards that come with the territory.
To address such a need, Behr Technologies, Advantech, Hitachi Solutions America, and Microsoft formed a partnership to create an industry-standard commercial wearable device that will exponentially increase worker safety in hazardous conditions. By combining today’s technologies such as IoT, artificial intelligence, and cloud connectivity, they are rolling out wearable devices that monitor the vital signs of its wearer.
Aimed at workers in high-risk situations such as remote mining operations, construction sites, deep-sea explorations, and tunneling developments, these wearables will capture crucial information such as heart rate, body temperature, breathing patterns, as well as external variables humidity and pressure.
If the device detects an abnormality such as decreased heart rate, rising blood pressure, and potential fall, it will automatically alert both wearer and management, enabling them to activate emergency protocols to ensure the safety of the workers, or in worst scenarios, increase their chances of survival.
Consent Remains Paramount
All the mentioned technologies are expected to change conventional employee monitoring standards and practices. That said, these innovations are so powerful and far-reaching that they can capture personal information and other sensitive data which most people would not want to share.
Thus, companies must be transparent with their monitoring approach, inform employees how they will be monitored, and seek consent. The use of robust employee monitoring tools treads a fine line that borders close to the privacy of workers. Both employers and workers must constantly find that happy medium between monitoring employee performance and securing the workers’ right to privacy.