As more companies gravitate toward some type of hybrid work model that combines virtual and on-site work, many are wrestling with policies around employee monitoring. Traditionally, employee monitoring — which refers to methods organizations use to track their employees’ activities via various types of technology — has been viewed negatively, as fears around the theme of “surveillance” have the potential to build resentment in the workplace. However, when used correctly and with a commitment to transparency, employee monitoring can help to bring positive results to productivity, employee engagement and cybersecurity efforts.
These themes were the focus of recent a discussion between BPM Partners Jill Pappenheimer, David Trepp and Michael Sellai, featured in the inaugural episode of the firm’s new podcast series, Business Insights. Over the course of their conversation, these participants focused on where organizations tend to go wrong with employee monitoring programs, how to build trust and how monitoring can help improve employee engagement — especially in the critical first three months of onboarding a new employee.
“Our clients want to know how to keep their people meaningfully engaged in a remote work environment,” stressed Jill Pappenheimer, HR Consulting Partner. She added that the employee monitoring subject tends to come up when employers are searching for ways to hold remote workers accountable, which can feel like a penalty for employees that can lead to feelings of mistrust. “That is the opposite of building engagement,” she said.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Having employees participate in setting their own direction in the company is critical, and technology is a great way to achieve that. “When done right, technology monitoring, where employees know and understand what’s happening, makes employees part of the process and can help them feel supported in learning their role within the organization,” Jill added.
Additionally, from a cybersecurity point of view, some amount of employee monitoring is required (and expected) to help safeguard sensitive data and systems. But it doesn’t have to have a “big brother” feel. “It can take on a more cooperative approach in which employees are fully up to speed about the type of monitoring activities that have been implemented,” said David Trepp, Cybersecurity Assessment Partner.
Michael Sellai, Managed IT Services Partner, reiterated how mission-critical it is for organizations to prioritize building a clear communications strategy around their monitoring activities to help support and build trust with their workforce. When organizations are not clear on these types of programs, especially in a virtual work environment, he says, “Individuals tend to suffer because they do not understand what the expectations are.”