How to monitor your employees – without snooping

As productivity decreases, demand for work surveillance has boomed

How to monitor your employees – without snooping

At the start of the pandemic, one of the biggest concerns for leaders around remote work was productivity. Will teams remain as productive as they were in offices? Or could it decrease as a result of various factors at home? While expectations and initial results around productivity were high during the early stages of the pandemic, a recent study revealed that productivity is slowly on the decline. In fact, JLL's Worker Preference Barometer published in July revealed that only 37% of the workforce feel more productive at home than in the office, compared to the 48% in April 2020.

And, as productivity declined, the number of companies turning to surveillance software skyrocketed. Research from Top10VPN showed a 58% surge in demand for employee surveillance software since the pandemic began. Such programmes are used to track employees through various means, such as keystrokes, screen monitoring, call tapping, internet monitoring, even remote-control takeover and webcam surveillance. These methods, however, have been rebuked - as they could potentially invade the privacy of employees and make them feel like they are being ‘snooped on’.

Read more: Employee surveillance: How far can employers go?

Culture of connections, trust

So, what to do? Well, Rosette Cataldo, vice president, performance, and talent strategy from Workhuman, found a novel way to monitor employee productivity without the use of controversial methods. Cataldo admitted that one of the concerns employers have is whether or not their staff are really working – or just skiving.

According to Cataldo, a better way of checking employees' productivity, aside from monitoring login times, is by looking at their progress in terms of creating goals and feedback moments through the tools they provide.

"There is a need to find and see productivity received through our tool by looking at interactions through connections or data that gives you beautiful insights on how people are connecting with each other in a way," she told HRD.

Cataldo added that they’re more focused on looking at peer-to-peer connections instead of a Big Brother-type of monitoring.

"We're not monitoring keystrokes, we're not monitoring email messages, or number of messages or things like that," she said. "Connections that are often driven by taking initiative, that's really the heart of what works. I believe strongly that our clients, because we create culture, didn't feel as though it was a monitoring. We always say we're about human connections, not data collection," she added.

The results? Well, it seems this more human-human, connected approach to employee monitoring is just the ticket.

"With the increase in the data and usage that we saw, I think we could make a very strong case that employees are not feeling more (pressured) at least through the usage of our tools," said Cataldo. "The secret sauce really is creating a culture where people feel that they're trusted. They feel like they have a psychological safety. You give people permission to connect with each other. That's really the key."

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