In 2014, an MIT professor used wristwatch sensors to detect perspiration and monitor pulse rate . Fifty-seven traders were monitored in a simulated lab, measuring their ability to handle stress while trading millions of dollars on Wall Street.
The top performers, including one trader who made more than $1 million in a few hours, were able to quickly handle and recover from volatility. The traders who didn’t perform as well were not as adaptable in the face of market volatility.
The benefits of the technology are obvious; investment companies can see if their employees are panicking, which could lead to bad decisions, but they can also use sensors to test job applicants’ ability to handle the stock market’s ups and downs.
Digital monitoring uses electronic devices for collection, storage, analysis, and reporting of performance or actions. Digital tools gather information on the productivity and effectiveness of an individual employee or the performance of a whole department.
When it comes to assessing employees’ effectiveness either randomly or continuously, these tools can compensate for a lack of resources in middle management, and increase the interaction between employee and supervisor in the digital workplace.
In addition, companies can use the data collected by digital monitoring systems to develop performance standards, which enforce a specific level of performance in an organization.
However when workplace monitoring, behavioral analytics and employee privacy collide, ethical issues arise! Digital monitoring technology has created new challenges and requirements, and even a drain, on employees.
In the United States, approximate 26 million employees are digitally monitored by organisations daily .
There is now a raging debate on issues ranging from employee privacy to job satisfaction to organizational performance.
One notable example was a company accused of installing hidden cameras in dressing rooms, monitoring the time their employees spent in the bathroom.
The issue of invasion of privacy using digital systems leads to violation of ethical values in an organisation and has legal implications. In addition, critics of digital monitoring argue that knowledge of digital monitoring can lead to increased stress, which is of course detrimental to the employee’s performance!
There is evidence that highly monitored employees exhibit a higher degree of anger, anxiety, depression, instability, and fatigue than those employees who are not digitally monitored . This is because, in some way, digital monitoring erodes cooperation and teamwork and employees are encouraged to concentrate on the quantity of the work and customer service.
Yet digital tools are effective for increasing quality and productivity. For example, the digital monitoring of call center agents, through playback of the calls, has increased the effectiveness of their interaction with the public by a high percentage. In terms of productivity, employers can track content, keyboard strokes and time spent at the keyboard. Organisations can then discover times of high and productivity and go about understanding why this is the case.
Platforms can also store and review computer files, and monitor employee’s social media for negative mentions of their organisation. A US-based report showed that 28% of companies surveyed had fired workers for inappropriate email usage and 30% had dismissed individuals for internet misuse . There have also been a number of high profile cases, overseas and in Australia, where employees have been fired for bringing their workplace into disrepute for, for example, wearing a company logo while carrying out inappropriate or illegal activities and uploading evidence of those activities on social media!
Companies will continue to seek ways to be more competitive, efficient and profitable – and employees are usually the focus of those efforts.
They must, however, be cautious. As technology allows for greater employee tracking, businesses need to make sure that their policies are clear, enforceable and in line with the mandates of free employee expression.
As long as the organization has a suitable policy regarding internet and email use, this form of monitoring is useful and in fact important to managing the business’ brand.
SBA Business can help you find a team to develop your internet and email monitoring policy, as well as advise on and set up ethical digital monitoring for your organisation.