How not to Cross the Line between Employee Monitoring and Employee Privacy and deliver it's benefits?

Today’s practices are changing in the workplace and with increasing impact of technology there is definite impact on employee productivity since the mobile phone brings in a lot of distractions to the workplace which were never before. Obvious answer to the problem is more tighter controls. One of the means of tighter control is monitoring.

The big question is how do we ensure one is not crossing the lines of privacy of an employee. There have been cases that monitoring has raised employee issues with management. This like any other sensitive issue, needs to be handled with some emotional intelligence and needs to be actively change managed. If the employees can be given an understanding on what are advantages that the organization as well as the employee stand to gain from it, the chances of the acceptance becomes more.

Advantages of Employee monitoring

Below are some of the advantages of implementing employee monitoring in a manufacturing plant:

Locating an Employee

The sheer size of a plant may be good reason for having a system to locate an employee. Some times it becomes necessary to urgently connect with employee. There are places within the plant where the mobile signals may be weak, the call may not get heard because of the noise etc. In such an environment it would be of advantage to be in a position to locate an given employee and possibly a indication can be given to the employee that he or she is needed.

Limited Implementation

There have been issues raised by employees that the privacy is getting compromised when specially the monitoring get carried forward beyond the work place. A solution like a BLE People tag has an advantage that it’s implementation is limited to the work place and one does not take it home.

Safety Compliance

Safety compliance is of major importance in any plant environment. There is always a need for the floor safety wardens to ensure that employees and people in the plant area are following the needed safety precautions. There may be processes that the people stepping their foot on the plant floor need to undergo a quick training before stepping their foot. Companies have mandatory training that need to be completed by employees before actually starting off. These can be tracked and alarms can be raised if an employee steps in without the mandatory training; it could raise alarm if the helmets are not worn by employee. There are unsafe areas where it may be dangerous to tread and any one detected in these areas could raise an alarm.

Security

It can be used to check on security issues, thus any presence of employees in an area of non work can be alarm for security. Security cameras can be used to be triggered by the presence of the tags of employees as well as the asset tags thus saving of recordings time and space consumed. It can help ensure policies of the company are getting followed.

Tracking of Assets

This another advantage that the business can obtain by implementation of the tagging their assets so that now it becomes very easy to locate where any asset instead of looking around for e.g. a specialized cutting machine which is being used as a shared tool across different plant areas, could easily be located using mobile.

Improved productivity

Trainees performances can be watched and improvements suggested. Studies can be conducted to see how much time the worker spends time at the work area and away from it and then understand by discussing with the worker to understand if there are some steps which needs to be undertaken or some constraints because of which the worker needs. These kind of studies will help improve the work productivity and make life easier for the workers by enabling them better.

How to implement employee monitoring with positive acceptance?

The key to implementing any such change is communication, education, gradual percolation, clear policies and training.

Communication

It is very important that the entire management communication is clear and positive and should be supported right from the top. These kind of changes would get severely marred if due importance is not given by the top, middle as well as the line manager. Thus this should not be coming as a implementation by the HR, infact the HR’s role here should be that of support to the employees and not that of monitoring.

Education

What is not understood tends to be feared and rejected!! – that is how human psychology works. It is therefore imperative the organization invests in to educating the workforce on the advantages and reasons why the management is implementing it. Change management is difficult task but educating makes the change more reasonable and rationally acceptable.

Gradual Percolation

Any such change if implemented in a sudden and knee jerk manner is going to get a similar reaction. It is therefore important to employees to feel comfortable working in the changed environment and not threatened.

Clear Policies

The legal aspect of these measures depend on the implementation. It is there fore clearly state in the policies that employee monitoring is to be implemented and policies would be ideally good to have which define as to what can the data be used for by the management. It is also needed to get these policies clarified and signed accepted at the time of recruitment. Also the existing employees be made to sign an acceptance.

Training

Periodic training is needed to ensure that the initial message is re-enforced both on the workers as well as managers so that there right implementation and the true advantages are being focused upon.

Final Word

The implementation of Employee Monitoring may be implemented to different levels based on the culture of the organization. Tomorrow’s challenges need to anticipated and started to be worked on early by organizations. Businesses of tomorrow will need to be more culturally open and more agile to deliver competitive advantage so that the ultimate purpose of doing business is served. It is management responsibility to set right vision and pave the way for it.

Written By

Pravinraj Panicker

IoT Evangelist and Senior Project Manager
Quicsolv Technologies Pvt Ltd.
www.quicsolv.com

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