Monitoring employees – how much is too much?

Orla Hodnett
Orla Hodnett

How do you strike the right balance when it comes to monitoring employees? It can help ensure the welfare of your team at work, but it can impact your company culture. How much is too much?

With the wealth of tools available, it has become very easy to track how you use your time at work. There are a number of tools available for larger companies and even inexpensive tools for freelancers. You can determine how you spent your day down to the second. But with this increase in availability of effective monitoring tools, can you go too far?

Can you impact your company culture and your team dynamics by monitoring your employees too closely? Most people know the boundaries of acceptable personal use of work tools and know how to direct their own work, but by not monitoring, are you letting some team members down by overlooking misuse?

There are obvious benefits and disadvantages to monitoring employees, but how do you achieve the right balance?

There are obvious benefits and disadvantages to monitoring employees, but how do you achieve the right balance? By having a good policy supported by tracking, you can ensure the best approach for your team. Here are a few of the advantages and disadvantages of monitoring employees:

Value of tracking

By monitoring how your employees spend their time, you may be gathering data that will help you to support them in their work. If you find that your employees are consistently working over 40 hours a week or are spending far too much of their time managing emails, instant messages and meetings, you may find that you need to hire support staff.

Sometimes tracking can expose unconscious misuse of time by employees. Everyone can agree that it is acceptable to occasionally check your email or read a news site, but if instead of spending 5 minutes here or there, your employees are unconsciously spending hours a day, tracking can help them to self-correct.

By tracking, you may also be able to ensure the welfare of all your employees in the workplace and ensure that they are comfortable at work. Tracking can help to expose bullying or inappropriate behaviour, allowing you to take the necessary measures to correct it.

By allowing employees to direct their own work, you are contributing to a positive work culture and team work ethic

Disadvantages of tracking

By allowing employees to direct their own work, you are contributing to a positive work culture and team work ethic. If tracking turns into micromanaging, you may breed distrust among your team. Some employees may think that you think their performance is poor or that you are treating them like people who have violated policies.

Micromanagement can demotivate your team and undermine the culture that exists in your company. Each tracking tool is different, but is the quantity, rather than the quality of your team’s work that is being monitored?

Tracking must be very carefully managed if it is in place, as it may overstep appropriate boundaries. Some tracking tools may monitor an employee’s physical activity. If you start monitoring lifestyle or habits, you may be impacting how your employees feel at work.

 

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