Nobody likes having an employer look over his or her shoulder all day, but many companies have a variety of methods and tools in place to monitor how employee time is spent. This monitoring isn’t simply about being a strict authoritarian organization. Employees spending time on non-work-related activities has a real financial impact on businesses.
Little Things Add Up
“Answering that friend request while at work may not seem troublesome, but add up all the on-the-job smartphone screen time across the country and you’re talking $15 billion in lost productivity, a new study reveals,” says Gregory Bresiger for the New York Post.
The study Bresiger references—conducted for staffing firm Office Team—found that the average employee spends a shocking 5 hours a week on tasks that have nothing to do with the job, such as checking smartphones incessantly.
Multiply 5 hours by 100, 500, or thousands of employees, and it’s easy to see why companies want to address these issues—and many are doing just that.
BBC’s Padraign Belton quotes Brian Kropp, vice president of research firm Gartner, saying, “More than half of companies with over $750m (£574m) in annual revenue used ‘non-traditional’ monitoring techniques on staff last year.”
Companies Are Watching
This monitoring includes tools that analyze e-mails, conversations, computer usage, and employee movements around the office, Belton adds. “Some firms are also monitoring heart rates and sleep patterns to see how these affect performance.” In 2015, Belton says that 30% of those companies used such tools. By next year, some experts estimate that 80% will.
Understandably, employees can be easily turned off by what they see as excessive monitoring by employers. At the same time, companies need to know that employees are actually using their time effectively and doing the work they are being paid to do.
The key for employers will be to strike a balance between efficiency and employee satisfaction. Monitoring is a reasonable part of that equation, but company culture and effectively setting expectations are additional key elements that can’t be ignored.