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Tracking Technology Shakes Up the Workplace

In an article in the WSJ.com (Memo to Workers: The Boss Is Watching, Oct 22, 13) it discusses a new (or re-newed) trend of tracking/watching employees through software while a work. Do you believe this increases productivity? Does is decrease morale? Or is this just the new 20-teens workplace?

Answers

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

If a company never had it, then all of a sudden introduced it, it can be damaging. From firsthand experience I can tell you it decreases morale more than anything. Nor does it create a sense of loyalty either. If the company does it and no one knows then it is business as usual, but once people find out about the tracking software, it becomes something of angst within employees.

However, if I were to start at new employer that was already monitoring/tracking then I would know what the environment I was getting into was. There would be no surprises.

Some workplaces need monitoring, especially in retail and manufacturing. These industries are susceptible to theft. It would be in the best interest of its employees, shareholders, etc., for these industries to monitor certain parts.

Let us consider the near mutiny that the U.S. is starting to experience as a result of cell phone tapping and such. If American citizens feel angst about being spied on, then employees will also.

Ken Stumder
Title: Finance Director / Controller
Company: Ken Stumder, CPA
(Finance Director / Controller, Ken Stumder, CPA) |

With the proliferation of smart devices, I would question the effectiveness of any of this tracking software from a productivity standpoint. It's best use is probably ensuring employees are not using company assets to go to websites that they shouldn't.

Even the staunchest employee probably comes into the office, checks their personal bank account, looks at the sports pages, takes a glance at the morning news, etc. Sometimes the employer themselves provides chat software viewing it as a productivity tool, and I see this misused constantly (in my days at public accounting the term "chat face" was coined by staff).

Speaking for myself, I pretty much assume my online activities are monitored - it is work after all - so it has no effect on my morale.

It's problematic from the employers' perspective, but I believe the best measure of productivity is to determine if your people are on task with respect to their deliverables, working well across functions, on board with strategic objectives, etc.

In the not-too-distant future as companies figure out how to get computers and robots to do more and more of what it currently takes a thinking, rational human being to do, this will decrease as an issue. Of course, then we will have new issues...

Anonymous
(CFO) |

What I've noticed over the years with monitoring systems are introduced, even before the advent of software tracking, is that employee resentment builds because of "do as I say and not as I do" paternalism that often goes along with it. i.e. the bosses track staff and let them know but, they don't apply the same rules to themselves.

Everyone knows that the bosses are exempting themselves which leads to an environment of disrespect.

No one likes to be treated like children. Even if and when they are acting like children.

There are better ways to monitor and bolster employee activities than big brother monitoring routines. Things like, deadlines or reviews. Even monitoring that focuses on productivity measurements and not individual employee behavior.

Besides, in my recent experience, it's not company equipment that is being used for extra curricular & non-approved activities during work hours. It's personal electronic devices and those are often impossible to track.

If I had my druthers, I would institute a policy of having personal cell phones, iPads, etc. out of sight and out of mind during work hours except for when on breaks or lunches and away from one's desk.

We have one CS clerk who mans the CS telephone lines who had the audacity to bring a docking station for her iPhone and put it on her desk. It buzzes constantly as her Facebook friends and family all try to contact her and be social during work hours.

When we go to see her about issues she is constantly diverting her eyes to the vibrating phone to see who is texting or tweeting her instead of focusing on the problem at hand. One of these days, one of us is going to grab it off her desk when it vibrates and she turns to see who is texting or calling, throw it on the floor and stomp on it. Yeah, I'm sure the perp will get fired but we'd all be quite supportive of such a drastic move.............. ;-(

Our CEO is just as bad, and is constantly reading her email or glancing at her cell phone in response to personal business when you are trying to talk to her and thus, not inclined to see a problem with this behavior. Just yesterday, during a two hour training session, she whipped out her cell phone while the trainer was going through their presentation and began texting about a personal matter. It was quite embarrassing.

Ken Stumder
Title: Finance Director / Controller
Company: Ken Stumder, CPA
(Finance Director / Controller, Ken Stumder, CPA) |

Anonymous CFO - exactly! With all that computing power sitting in the palms of employees hands, monitoring software amounts to less and less these days...

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