According to recent research, employers ‘spy on’ a third of UK workers, and webcam monitoring has more than doubled. Bosses and business owners are using dystopian surveillance tools more often to make sure their workers are being diligent.

As we get used to new ways of performance measuring and the required maturity to trust fellow stakeholders, it is just that, paranoia. The c-suite and the managers that run the day-to-day operations must relinquish this over-the-top oversight if they want their company to perform well.

This means swapping surveillance for something much harder to perfect but much more rewarding for everyone’s mental health and productivity. Simply put, good management is about trust, communication, and a focus on the outputs.  

Workforce surveillance is responsible for your employees’ dissatisfaction

an image showing a person being happy because she has a good manager. This image represents a substitute for workforce surveillance.

Not surprisingly, a 2017 study by Baylor University found that monitoring software correlated with greater employee tension and less job satisfaction, which naturally caused a higher staff turnover. This pressure, and the subsequent desire to jump ship, is stressful enough, let alone during the economic freeze of the pandemic, when another job may not be so easy to find.

More recently, MPs stated that worker surveillance and setting performance targets through algorithms damage employees’ mental health and need to be controlled by new legislation.

Workforce surveillance is not just unjust and unethical; it is entirely self-defeating. A happy team is a productive team. It’s no secret that investing in your employees’ wellness can reduce sickness rates, improve work motivation, and encourage a better sense of team morale. And an effective team is what your bottom-line needs. You’d be better off, and so would the quarter’s profits, if you monitor your staff by instilling a sense of autonomy and measuring success by results. After all, results matter, not mouse clicks and not time spent sitting at the desk,” explained Michael Cupps, senior vice president at ActiveOps PLC.

Focus on getting real employee insight

In one of CXM’s guides, we wrote about employee engagement and efforts managers can make to get and receive honest feedback from their co-workers. Applying surveillance software puts companies out of the game in a world that is moving toward more flexibility and purpose-led actions. Trust is one of the most important factors for employees to stay loyal to the company.

Businesses must now look to access real insights and implement operational changes that promote cultural and performance consistency in a hybrid world. Many leaders will also recognise that capturing real-time data at aggregate and individual levels can enable a company to uncover more prominent organisational trends that can drive overall business efficiency,” added Cupps.

If you plan to hire a new team member, instead of thinking about how to monitor his actions, invest in your onboarding plan and get timely and efficient feedback to retain good talents.

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