How better employee monitoring enhances workplace safety

The workforce of today isn't the workforce of yesteryear

How better employee monitoring enhances workplace safety

At a time when nearly every growing business is facing a shortage of qualified workers, the HR function has never been more important.

In the last decade, the country’s unemployment rate has plummeted from approximately 10% to 3.5%. At the same time, the skills gap has grown, and as a result, business leaders’ No. 1 concern is now attracting and retaining talent.

So how do HR leaders continue to attract strong employees out of a shallower pool? The first step is recognizing that the pool is deeper than it looks.

The weaker job markets of the past two decades allowed employers to be much more selective about the individuals they would choose to even interview. They relied on automated tools to quickly sift through the hundreds of resumes that came in for each position, while candidates groused about unrealistic demands like multiple years of experience required for entry-level positions. 

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Today, filling those same positions doesn’t require lowering any standards, but it does mean broadening the net. That includes interviewing individuals with backgrounds and records that might not be spotless.

Ninety-six percent of employers say they conduct at least one type of background check, but in an environment when employers must be increasingly open to individuals who may have made bad decisions in the past, point-in-time checks are no longer enough.

Employers need a way to constantly monitor – unobtrusively and with 100% consent – all employees, so that they may see the signs, and prevent someone from making bad choices that harm themselves, the organization, or others.

This would not only make the workforce more accessible to potentially good employees who just need a chance to prove themselves, it would also alleviate fears about workplace safety. Already, one in seven employees say they don’t feel safe at work.

More sophisticated continuous evaluation enables HR to check for the signs of stress that usually precede problems in the workplace. Once HR is able to discover the stress indicators through continuous evaluation – minor criminal offenses; recent inability to make financial ends meet; threatening posts on social media – they can reach out to the individual to see what might be going on, how they are feeling, and find out how HR might be able to help through employee assistance or other wellness programs. If it’s not something they can work through, HR may have to part ways with the individual.

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These same tools also must provide a way for employees to report any concerns they have about co-workers, while assuring a fair and consistent investigative process will protect the rights of the individuals who may be accused.

This is important when you consider the nature of certain conversations. If they need to share that their manager is making unreasonable requests, someone at work is harassing them, or they see a co-worker being physically, mentally or emotionally abused, they might want to communicate that information discreetly.

In sensitive situations like those described above, employees will want to know that privacy is of paramount importance to the organization. Outside of work, consumer data privacy is a very hot topic right now. And inside the organization, a recent study seeking to explore how employees report potential insider threats found that many respondents weren’t confident their employer would keep their report a secret. 

There are ways for HR to address this challenge. A high-quality workforce assurance platform ensures that when an employee submits a claim about a co-worker, they can rest easy knowing it won’t be traced back to them. They can also know that with a workforce assurance platform that centralised a consistent policy – employee incident reports and management response will be treated consistently without bias or favouritism.

The workforce of today isn’t the workforce of yesteryear; the labour market is more competitive, CEOs’ priorities have shifted, and HR’s recruitment-and-retention challenge has grown more difficult. With these changes, we must also change our approach to fostering a safe and productive work environment – utilizing 21st-century capabilities to increase accessibility without compromising security.

Tom Miller is CEO of ClearForce, an organization that protects businesses and employees through the continuous and automated discovery of employee misconduct or high-risk activities.

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