When you tell your staff that their computer activities will be monitored, you shouldn’t be surprised if your announcement is met with suspicion. Your employees have seen the stories that have made headlines and social media rounds where employees have experienced truly intrusive spying by their employers or have been fired for an out-of-context picture on their social media. And less dramatic stories of being timed and micromanaged by employers who monitor a little too closely make the rounds in every industry. But effective workforce monitoring doesn’t have to be excessive and intrusive (and it shouldn’t be). Done right, it can increase security, productivity, and work quality without destroying workplace morale. The key to this kind of healthy workplace relationship is trust, both on your side and on your employees’ sides.
Make the First Move
Trust in the workplace will help ensure a harmonious workplace where everyone is free to focus on the company’s mission.
In the relationship between yourself and people who are employed by you, you’re the one with the most power. If you want trust from your employees, you’re going to have to extend some trust yourself first. That means you need to show them that you’re not going to take the monitoring to extremes and that you generally trust your employees to do their best work.
For example, you can confine your monitoring to the workplace and company-issued devices. This lets your employees know that you trust them to conduct their personal lives in a way that doesn’t cause a problem for the company, and that you don’t need to monitor their social media or their personal cell phone to enforce that. It lets your employees know that you’re only concerned with the quality of their work, which is reasonable, and not with spying on their lives off-hours.
Another way of demonstrating your trust in your workers might be to make it clear that briefly checking their personal email or social media during work hours won’t be a cause for discipline or termination. Some research has shown that brief web-browsing breaks actually increase employee productivity. You could let your employees know that this kind of harmless break in the day is not what you’re interested in monitoring, and it will only be a problem if it becomes excessive. Make sure that you and your employees both understand what you mean by excessive, however.
The Proof is in the Productivity
Once you’ve explained to your employees how they’re going to be monitored and why, set clear guidelines in writing and make sure that everyone is aware of them. Employees should read and sign the internet usage and social media policies so that you can be sure that you’re all on the same page and everyone’s expectations are clear.
Next, prove that you mean what you say by using the results of your effective workforce monitoring in constructive ways. With the data you collect through, you may be able to improve work quality and productivity while also making life easier for your employees. For example, if you discover that one employee is consistently struggling to keep up with their workload while another has more frequent downtime, you may be able to handle the situation be restructuring the way you allocate tasks. This takes the pressure off your overburdened employee, provides the underutilized employee with more chances to prove their ability, improves efficiency for the company, and isn’t intrusive to either employee.
Catch Them Doing Good Work
Make use of your data to spot and reward employees who are going above and beyond.
It’s easy to think of workforce monitoring in terms of catching and fixing problems for the company, so it’s easy to ignore data that shows when things are going well. But praise and recognition are important to employees and using your data as a way to recognize and praise employees who are doing well can help them feel more comfortable about being monitored.
InterGuard can provide you with analytics that demonstrate that a particular employee’s productivity or quality of work has improved over time, or help you identify which employees are putting in more hours and going above and beyond. Take note of this information and make sure to use it when calculating raises, bonuses, promotions, and professional awards. This lets your employees know that your workforce monitoring practices are working for them as well as for you.
By demonstrating trust, transparency, and good faith, you’re giving your employees the information they need to trust you as well. This allows you to implement your workforce monitoring system while maintaining – or even improving – workplace morale.
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