Is employee tracking ethical?
Tracking, Ethic or Taboo; What Matters for your Business?Tushar Bhargava
There are taboos in business world as are within the society. One of the most epics for companies has been “Employee Tracking.” Many companies outrightly get offended even if they find you leaning positively towards tracking. They stare at you to death with those intense stress marks of their forehead deepening for an immoral disgust even to utter this word which they find forbidden.
To my surprise, I find their rebel approach absent against tracking as that they knowingly or unknowingly keep a track of employee activities with the same set of email policies, HR policies, and system usage policies as we do. What’s so different about their angst if it is not making them any different business? Or are you hating something sensible which you fear would spoil your name in the market?
Is It Too bad to Track Your Employees?
Yes & No both depending on your views, and the way you think of it. If you think you own the employees because you pay them for work, then you are probably ignoring the fact that they too are spending the most productive hours of most days of their lives for better of your business. Nevertheless, they are also doing it for monthly paychecks that they are paid for, but they also need to manage their personal and private necessities for a better life which is nonetheless important as much as their professional life is.
His life is his own, and he has every right to lead his personal life to his own choice, no matter how he wants it to be like. It is his responsibility to make sure and maintain a right balance between the two and not let himself down in doing the professional duties anyhow.
“Tracking is Conditionally Independent Way to Grow Mutual Trust.”
But as I said there are two sides of a coin. The argument about ethical tracking is conditional and depends on how you intend to use it. It might not be true that every employee always works actively during the working hours, whether if he is in an office or on the field. They might not work all the time to their fullest potential. And add to it a chance, the way to work without being traced, one naturally becomes careless and lesser sincere towards work than he is otherwise. I am not saying all of them cheat you, but you never know with this perfectly imperfect society that we live in.
There are but 2 or 3 in every 50 persons who don’t need a reason to behave irresponsibly. If they get a choice to work without being monitored at work, they tend to work carelessly, or in bitter words, they won’t mind disrespecting the professional responsibilities for their wish. Such people love finding new ways to screw anyone for any reason or even for no apparent reason at all. In any case, it is not the professional conduct they are expected to show and they probably know it well. Mostly, such employees don’t care for the work because their emotions are connected with the company growth instead just the salary it will give. They don’t associate themselves with the company to be working in the way they would have had if they owned it. Never mind, but with this unprofessional an attitude, you don’t stand a chance to build an own business until and unless you change for better.
They are more concerned about appearing engaged rather than being one. It is the last thing which you can expect on the name of professionalism from your professionals. As they don’t feel associated to their company and just continuing with their job for salary as the stand-alone reason for doing the job. Such person never cares to get concerned in the interest of his company which they work for.
Every one of us sees those notorious Vogue kids, who don’t care to think about what’s right and wrong and behave badly at times. Mostly when they know that there is the least probability of them being caught. Mean human being show an exaggerated but unreal discipline, and when they get free hands to work, they are no more moral answerability to anyone but they. They try to cover it up.
Such employees bring down the overall productivity of their entire company. If they are left unattended for a while, they spoil the atmosphere of the workplace in no time. They ruin the work culture of the office as if it never existed. There attitude withers office environment and distracts others from work. It is never a healthy sign for any place that means business.
So with all these complex hypothecations, we end up back to where we begun with this core argument. ‘Should a company track its employee's or not? It is not about ethics, but it’s about doing business that you raised by working your sweat and blood out. Should you let two notorious men who do not relate bring down the resulting business? And all the while, you let the work productivity shrink because you find it indecent to track employee even if they are supposed to be working?
Let me be very clear and specific to interpret my views about employee tracking. For me, it is not just about eyeing them all the time; it should be inclusive of every tool and activity they are supposed to be doing while working. The Email tracking, document tracking, productivity tracking through CRM, etc. are all meant for professional part of an employee’s life.
Okay, let’s move back to the question. I guess I am roaming to subsidiary topics a bit much than I should. Should you track your employee’s location? For answering this, let me start with a rhetorical question, “Don’t you track your employee's activities like the ones suggested above?” Yes, you do, and in fact, you never miss out on doing that to assess employee productivity, don’t you?
When you hire a workforce, which is to work on the field for the most parts of his job, then you have every right to know what they do and how they perform each day while working on the field. You need to make sure they are not just meeting but having engaging interaction with every client they meet. Your company owes the responsibility to pay for travel expenses that incur while traveling. But you can never pay them right unless you know the precise distance and time they spend traveling. To be blunt enough, all this is the considerable part that contributes to the productivity of an employee while at work.
Does This Makes You Distrustful from the Employee’s View?
Yes, maybe but then, this will only worry those of them who know they could be in trouble if following the same routine as they have been, till now.
If not being careless to work, it builds trust and feels confident to know that everything he does on the field will get noticed and therefore his work will be weighed to its size. That his hard work will make him more credible as a professional and thereby motivate him to grow with better performance along with those sincere efforts that are otherwise ignored without a trace.
He would feel relieved to know that his employer will not have any reason to doubt him for his work because whatever work done by him will be captured in enough degree to be viewed as such. There shall be no doubt in his mind if he doesn’t need to hide something suspicious or dubious while at work which he is not supposed to be doing. A good employee will love to see a medium to build trust and reputation for his work and prove what he is capable of doing. A platform for professional growth for his abilities and merits that he needed to make a statement with his skills while at work.
For an opinion, tracking is not unethical unless it is trying to be invasive. You being an employer have the right to know how your employee works and manages his work routine? But once they finish their professional duty for the day, it is none of your business to see what he has been up to. Who are we to look into other’s personal life against his concern?
Tracking when they are not supposed to be at work is wrong and immoral, to say the least. You should not be doing so at any cost because this is what you must stand to oppose. This is what you call spying, not tracking if you are not authorized to do. It will certainly shake the trust of your employees and kill their attitude to see their work as their own.
But there’s more to tracking than just transparency, and somehow, it is also the problematic part which makes ‘tracking’ haunted to the unlike of most businesses. Tracking is a naked wire which needs to be dealt with proper care and caution. If handled carelessly, this might shock company and shakes to unsettle its root.
Herein lies the problem, to begin with, one big ‘taboo’ that associates with the word “tracking.” Just a bit more than what’s needed will land you on the wrong side of the rope. There is tremendous pressure on a business to not invade personal and private lives of their employees. This is the reason which makes most businesses skeptical of allowing mere debates on the topic of tracking. No company wants to be associated with any such act that harms their credibility as an employer. Else, they choose not to discuss tracking for an apparent dignity and respect that a good company must show towards its employees.
“Manage Employees Psychologically (And Not By Force).”
But I must tell you, just if your employees are aware of being supervised while carrying out field activities, it keeps them focused on work. Even if you don’t try to look strict, they will just develop a psychology to show enough performance that justifies their job efficiency at par with the what is ideal for their job. This psychology keeps them on the toes and careful to check themselves to commit careless mistakes on their part.
Tracking creates a psychological influence that helps guide a person to be more compliant towards his moral duties. The best thing about it is that this effect comes without any applied pressure from the part of the company for him to do his work in a certain way. They work by your side on the job for your business to get paid for the same. They prioritize work without being pushed as such. Now, how’s that for professionalism!!!
Even if you are not actually tracking them but the psychological impact created due to the word “tracking” makes sure that they do their best for required productivity. Every employee wants to prove to their managers how hardworking they are and nothing is a better way to show their potential then by performing while their performance is being tracked.
I have often heard Companies who don’t track their employees justifying the same by explaining how everything is working just fine the way it should be. Thereby asserting that they don’t need to imbalance their fluent business operations. I rather suggest those companies to try tracking & report automation solution for once at least, for managing the same field force.
Even with only 10% of the employees to start with, you will see a stark difference that speak volumes about employee productivity through reporting automation and location tracking. I am personally find it really helpful for customer retention, with an easy effort.
Are There Pitfalls of Tracking Employee Location in Real-Time?
With a tracking solution, it is easy for you to identify performance frauds and those who are committing it. For a brief period, it might look like a headache for your HR department. However, it is worth it in the long term. Once your operations are adapted, tracking rightly always helps you increase the productivity of your team exponentially.
How you need to use a tracking solution primarily depends on the way your company operates. The location tracking is never helpful for a person working at the office for the whole day. You need to evaluate your process to work and then adopt a suitable tracking solution for better effect.
To take an example, assume you want to track a vehicle & it’s driver continuously, then only an excellent GPS tracking device will be enough to get the job done. But if you want to manage field staff, then simply GPS alone will not serve the purpose for you. A field operation involves, traveling, meeting and reporting all combined seamlessly into one. Therefore, reporting automation and meeting tracker is equally vital to track not just the location, but the activities performed from that place are crucial to assess their overall productivity.
One might want to manage inventory, take orders and issue invoices and this is only possible if you can integrate the tracking solution with your ERP for a seamless and fluent experience. If your tracking solution didn't gel with your ERP, it would not serve the purpose the way you want it to be doing.
But there’s a genuine query that why shouldn’t one adopt ERP based tracking solution. I think you are better aware of the vastness of ERP and synchronizing it under full cover is itself no minor achievement to brag about. Now with such a heavy solution, you can’t get everyone on board easily. Never miss the battery consumption as it is as important as any other thing to use a solution.
ERP based on tracking solutions are prone to consume massive battery and nonetheless, it will hardly be a solution that it intended to be with Mobile switched off midway during the day. So for the sake of tracking, you need something which cares for battery and makes sure that the tracking must be power efficient and it doesn’t discharge the mobile beyond normal usage. ERP is a bit too much to comply with this condition and will test mobile’s beyond manageable proportions to make it powerlessness.
So while the idea is ideally to use ERP combined Tracking, but practically it is not feasible and may not serve the purpose for the obvious limits of power supply needed to keep it working. And once the mobile battery runs out of juice, you will forget about being informed and will be left with no choice but to clutter your teeth in angst and irritation. You had the solution, but somehow it doesn’t even matter much, more so, when it will be needed the most.
A robust and reliable tracking solution needs to be compact and power friendly and run all day long without being a burden over the mobile.