In today’s digital age, companies are using a variety of tracking tools to monitor employee productivity and performance. From monitoring keystrokes and mouse clicks to tracking software usage and email correspondence, there are so many ways employers track employees.
But the big question is, is this constant digital tracking tanking productivity and employee morale? Or is it having the opposite effect?
In this article, we will examine the impact of constant digital tracking on employee morale and productivity, how it affects their job satisfaction and the overall productivity of the company and how to find a balance.
The Evolution of Digital Tracking in Recent Times
Many studies, journals, and newspaper reports have highlighted and often reported that digital tracking has come a long way. Many digital tracking and monitoring software products, such as Time Doctor, ActivTrak, and Teramind, have found a good spot to flourish in the markets. This was (and still is) due to companies trying to track remote workers’ productivity.
These programs have many features installed that can screenshot employees’ computer screens at any time, record the pattern of keystrokes at any point in time during work hours, and more.
However, while digital monitoring was a thing before the pandemic, after it, it has become a greater technology trend now. For instance, according to a 2022 Capterra survey, about 35% of Canadian employees were working in companies that used at least one digital monitoring tool. Of this number, 28% had been using the software before the pandemic, and 7% incorporated it after the pandemic.
The speedy adoption of this software is a good one, as businesses can monitor productivity easily and maintain or improve their bottom line.
But is it effective and necessary on the part of the employees?
While digital monitoring surely invades one’s privacy, albeit necessary to an extent, many studies are discovering that the idea and use of digital tracking might be counterproductive to employees and businesses trying to boost productivity.
Tracking staff and what they do through their PCs and workstations, especially when they are aware, is bound to create distractions, increase stress, reduce morale and increase employee turnover. This could also increase expenditure, as new staff will have to be recruited and trained by the existing IT professionals.
Proof to Show That Digital Tracking is Shrinking Employee Morale and Productivity
Below are some surveys that prove that constant digital tracking is tanking employee morale & productivity:
- In a 2017 research by Baylor University that focused on the likelihood of workers quitting their jobs, academics discovered that monitoring software was connected to higher employee tension and lower job satisfaction, which always leads to increased employee turnover.
- Also, in 2019, research by a university in Finland was very specific about uncovering the consequences of digital monitoring software. It revealed that digital employee monitoring effectively reduced the intrinsic motivation of employees to work, which could stifle creativity.
- Furthermore, researchers said that employees became less willing to go the additional mile for the business when digital monitoring software was employed in the workplace.
Other signs include
- Decrease in employee engagement and commitment
- Increase in absenteeism and turnover
- Decrease in productivity
- Lack of trust and communication
- Decrease in employee satisfaction
All these point to the fact that constant digital tracking will reduce employee morale and productivity and, in the end, induce many other negative factors in the workplace, the least of which is a drop in productivity.
There is Some Good in the Use of The Software
Digital tracking software has become a common tool for companies to monitor employee productivity and performance. But while it’s often associated with negative effects on employee morale, digital tracking can also have positive effects when used correctly.
A survey of Sri Lankan workers by the University of Moratuwa discovered that digital tracking did not necessarily reduce job satisfaction. It only did when the company was secretly doing it, or it was installed without the knowledge of the employees.
This implies that employees are not totally against using digital tracking software; when companies and businesses inform the workers of their decision and can prove that it is in the best interests of the company and its workers.
One of the key benefits of digital tracking is that it allows managers to understand better how employees spend their time at work. This can lead to a more efficient and productive workforce and opportunities for training and development.
Another benefit of digital tracking is monitoring employee performance and identifying high-performing employees. This can be useful for evaluating employee performance, setting goals, and determining compensation and promotion decisions.
In addition, digital tracking can also be used to ensure compliance with company policies and regulations.
To make the most of digital tracking, companies should find a balance and communicate these to employees.
How to Find a Balance
Employee turnover and morale are crucial factors in companies and businesses and should take priority at all times. However, this does not entirely rule out the use of this software. Therefore, striking a balance between monitoring and respecting privacy is crucial for creating a positive and productive work environment.
Make it gradual
It is not a good idea to suddenly throw the idea of digital tracking in employees’ faces at once; there needs to be a gradual process. You can set up a schedule and add steps and phases while making this as transparent as possible.
Making decisions solely based on the information you get from digital tracking software will make you select the wrong approach. Along with these tools, supervisors can also monitor passively and get a feel for what is happening.
Establish clear policies and guidelines for its use
Employees should be aware of what is being tracked, why, and how the information will be used. This can help to build trust and transparency between employees and management.
Use digital tracking in conjunction with other methods of measuring productivity
This can provide a complete picture of employee performance and help managers make more informed decisions.
To lower the negative impact of digital tracking on employee morale, companies should also consider implementing employee feedback and surveys to understand how employees feel about the tracking system and what they like and dislike about it.
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