The use of employee productivity monitoring and tracking tools has become more prevalent especially since the rise in remote and hybrid work during the pandemic. Business Insider found that about 96% of remote companies use some kind of employee monitoring software. In fact, according to a study done by 1E almost 80% of companies that don’t already use employee monitoring tools say they expect to implement them I the next three years.
However, though these tools may seem like a helpful way to make sure employees are keeping on task and working efficiently, they have been a source of tension between employers and their workers. With a general sense of distrust and perceived invasion of privacy, employees are pushing back and sometimes even leaving companies with productivity monitoring software in place.
According to Human Resources Director, when these monitoring tools are in use, IT managers see an uptick in employees quitting and difficulty hiring new employees. The survey also found that employees at companies with these tools have seen a decrease in morale (26%), an increase in employee anxiety (30%) and faster employee burnout (28%) since implementation.
“They also report higher stress and emotional exhaustion, high tension and anxiety, negative attitudes and emotions when monitored. The monitoring of employees working at home also creates and raises privacy concerns,” said Dr. Debora Jeske, an HR professional and adjunct lecturer at University College Cork.
In addition, monitored employees are more likely, a study by Harvard Business Review found, to take unapproved breaks disregard instructions and purposefully work at a slow pace than employees whose work was not being surveilled.
As such, HBR recommends that employers treat employees fairly and foster accountability to improve employee performance, since productivity monitoring can “reduce employees’ sense of agency and personal responsibility, potentially increasing the prevalence of the very behaviors that these systems are meant to deter.”