Employees Are More Likely To Pretend They’re Working When Employers Track Their Productivity: Here’s Why

Shocked african business man feel frustrated looking at laptop screen

Big Brother-like attempts by employers to track the productivity of remote workers seems to be backfiring.

A new study released by research firm Gartner shows that employees are nearly two times more likely to pretend to be working when their employers use tracking systems to monitor their output. Gartner surveyed more than 2,400 professionals in January 2021.

“Our role as managers is to create an environment where people can do their best work. It’s really hard to do your best work if you feel like you are not trusted,” says Carol Cochran, vice president of people and culture at remote career site FlexJobs. “If I feel like someone doesn’t trust me enough to feel like I’m doing my work without monitoring through software, how do I trust them back? How do I build that physical safety?”

This past year, there’s been an uptick in reports of companies using monitoring software to keep tabs on their newly remote workforces, turning to technology to track their keystrokes and search histories, as well as tools to take periodic screenshots of their computers.

Reid Blackman, founder and CEO of corporate ethics consulting firm Virtue Consultants, said he’s not surprised employees are falsifying their work. “Obviously people are going to game the system … especially if they think the system is unfair,” he says.

Though he says it’s not unreasonable for managers to have concerns about  their workers’ productivity, he suggests they think critically about why they want to use such software and what they stand to accomplish before deploying any systems. Blackman also recommends discussing the move with employees beforehand so they can ask questions and understand the reasoning behind it.

Alexia Cambon, a research director at Gartner, says employers’ initial instincts to track their employees may have been well-intentioned, especially in the early days of the pandemic, when there was a need to recreate in-office strategies at home. However, many companies did not take human behavior into consideration, she says.

“If you know that, as humans, we will struggle to disconnect from a remote world …. then you really need to create strategies to incentivize people to disconnect and not stay on longer hours,” Cambon says.

Gartner also found that adapting office-centric practices for hybrid work environments, such as creating an abundance of meetings, has led to virtual fatigue. Employees who now spend more time in meetings are 1.24 times more likely to feel emotionally drained from their work, the study found.

Cambon cautions that when employees experience high levels of fatigue, their performance can decrease by up to 33% and feelings of inclusion can decrease by up to 44%. Ultimately, these workers are up to 54% less likely to remain with their employers, she says.

Contrary to prevailing advice, Cochran advises companies to reconsider asking their employees to turn on their cameras for video meetings, as doing so can make them more exhausting. As a compromise, she suggests that everyone turn on their cameras for the first couple of minutes to exchange pleasantries with coworkers, but turn them off when it’s time to work.

“We shouldn’t do things just because it seems right or seems like the best practice,” she says. “We really need to be intentional in how we are managing these workforces, whether they are remote, hybrid or in person.”

I’m the Careers reporter at Forbes. Previously, I covered the world’s richest people as a member of the wealth team. Before joining Forbes, I reported for the Hartford Courant and the New Haven Register, covering breaking and local news. A Connecticut native, I studied journalism at Penn State University. Follow me on Twitter @KristinStoller.

Kristin Stoller

 

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Source: Employees Are More Likely To Pretend They’re Working When Employers Track Their Productivity: Here’s Why

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► Find us at https://www.bernieportal.com/hr-party… Remote work can be tough on teams. In this episode, Ryan covers the struggles HR professionals face with engagement, the productivity tracking platforms that can solve these issues, and how to communicate updates to your team. BerniePortal: The all-in-one HRIS that makes building a business & managing its people easy. http://bit.ly/2NEQ5Qb
What is an HRIS? https://bit.ly/what-is-an-hris Stay up to date with the latest HR news and benefits administration by subscribing to the BerniePortal Blog https://blog.bernieportal.com/ Related Blog: Five Great Productivity Tools for Remote Workers https://blog.bernieportal.com/five-gr… Related Blog: Tips for Tracking Remote Work Employee Engagement https://blog.bernieportal.com/track-e… One Sheet Guide: Technology for Remote Workers by BerniePortal & BernieU https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/131307… Related Episode: Overtime Pay: Exempt vs. Non-Exempt https://www.bernieportal.com/hr-party…
Referenced Article: Gallup: Reviewing Remote Work in the U.S. https://news.gallup.com/poll/311375/r… For more check out the HR Party of One Tips for Working Remotely Playlist on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list… Hubstaff, the employee tracking software we use. https://hubstaff.com/ BernieU: Your free one-stop-shop for compelling, convenient, and comprehensive HR training and courses that will keep you up-to-date on all things human resources. Approved for SHRM & HRCI recertification credit hours. Enroll today! https://university.bernieportal.com/
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Don’t Let a Bad Tech Stack Hurt Employee Retention

A bad tech stack can make it difficult for companies to succeed against competitors in everything from customer engagement and sales to production and innovation. But, outdated, annoying or confusing technology can also harm your organization’s ability to attract and retain top talent, which will be increasingly difficult and important as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes and the labor market tightens.

To be sure, it will be several years before the U.S. and global economies return to pre-COVID levels. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the U.S. won’t hit pre-pandemic employment levels until 2024. But given that major enterprise IT shifts can also take years, now is the time to evaluate your tech stack and ensure your organization has the right tools for a digital workforce that’s geographically dispersed, discerning when it comes to technology and willing to walk if an employer’s technology hinders their success.

Don’t believe me?

According the State of Software Happiness Report 2019 from G2:

  • 52% of workers said they have “become dissatisfied at work due to missing or mismatched software”
  • 24% of respondents said they have “considered looking for a new job” because they “didn’t have the right software”
  • 13% of employees said they have actually left a job because of the software their employer required them to use
  • 95% of workers said they would be “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with better software tools
  • 86% of respondents said they would be “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with more software tools

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to close offices and most office workers to become telecommuters, technology became and even more important factor in employee job satisfaction. According to Adobe Workfront’s State of Work 2021 report, released last week:

  • 32% of workers said they had left a job because the employer’s technology “was a barrier to their ability to do good work.” This was up from 22% pre-COVID.
  • 49% of U.S. workers said they are “likely to leave their current job if they’re unhappy or frustrated with the technology they use at work.”
  • 12 point increase in the number of people “who report turning down a job because the tech was out of date or hard to use” between February and March 2020 to November and December 2020
  •  7 point increase in the number of people “who reported applying for a job because they heard a company’s employees use great technology” between February and March 2020 to November and December 2020

Check out Dallon Adams’ article on ZDNet sibling site TechRepublic for more insights from the Workfront report on how Gen Xers are thriving in the world of remote work with millennials are struggling.

5 ways companies can improve employee IT satisfaction

So, as companies race to accelerate their digital transformation efforts to meet the needs of their customers in the new normal, they should also re-examine the hardware and software their employees are using. Here are few tips for building a tech stack that can help promote employee success, boost productivity, and build good will for IT.

  1. Make sure existing tools meet user needs and work as expected: Before you roll out new hardware and software, start with what you already have. Conduct a user satisfaction survey to find out if your current tech stack is meeting employee needs. A TechRepublic 2014 enterprise application software report found that only 26% of respondents were “very satisfied” with their software. IT can also use service desk call logs or reporting tools within their IT service management solution to detect applications and hardware that create regular pain points for end users.
  2. Give employees access to “new” technology: According to the Workfront report, employees are more interested in having access to “new” technology now compared to before the pandemic. The report showed a 5 point increase in the number of respondents who said that “old technology is making it harder to take on more work.” I know budget is always a consideration with any IT purchase, but if your staff is still using 7-year-old computers, it’s time to rethink your IT budget.
  3. Offer employees choice as a rule not an exception: Another data point from the Workfront report was that employees “expect their employers to trust and empower them to know how to achieve the right outcomes.” When I first started my IT career, there were Windows shops and then there was everything else. But today, and honestly for the last decade, modern device management tools and cloud services make it easier than ever to manage multiple operating systems, applications, and hardware platforms. With few exceptions, IT shouldn’t lock employees into (or more importantly out of) tools they believe will help them achieve company goals. I’m not suggesting you should run 5 different finance or CRM systems, but, there’s no reason not to support multiple productivity suites. If accounting needs Excel, sales wants PowerPoint, and everyone else wants Google Docs…fine. Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace can coexist. And if you’re thinking, “But Bill, we’ll get a price break if we use a single software platform.” Those initial low-price deals often expire in a few years (like an introductory interest rate on a credit card) and then you’re back to paying market rates. The same goes for hardware. If Legal wants Windows laptops, the Sales staff wants MacBooks, and your devs want Windows workstations make it happen. Sure, you can have a “standard” machine and drive image that you give to 80% of staff, but don’t just be the department of “no” when someone makes a legitimate business request.
  4. Support flexible/remote working environments: Even as COVID vaccines reach more workers, employees return to offices and public venues reopen, the nature of work has been forever changed by the pandemic. More people will work remotely than before COVID, and IT will need to switch from reactively supporting telecommuters to proactively empowering them. This means giving people have access to the hardware (monitors, keyboards, mice, trackpads, cables, external storage devices, etc.), software, and cloud services they need to work effectively from their home.
  5. Balance security with ease of use: If you make a security measure too onerous for people, they’ll find a way around it. This fact holds true for physical and cybersecurity. There’s no doubt in today’s world of constant cyberattacks everyone organization and individual needs to use strong security tools and follow best practices, there’s a fine line between doing security and overdoing security. For example, IBM released research in 2020 that shows simply deploying lots and lots os security tools doesn’t lead to stronger security. “The enterprise is slowly improving its response to cybersecurity incidents, but in the same breath, it is still investing in too many tools that can actually reduce the effectiveness of defense,” wrote Charlie Osborne for ZDNet’s Zero Day in her article on the report. For practical tips on balancing security and user accessibility, check out Scott Matteson’s list of cybersecurity do’s and don’ts.

When done together, these steps can go a long way to build a tech stack that fosters employee satisfaction with IT and the company as a whole, which as research shows is important for hiring and keeping top talent.

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Source: Don’t let a bad tech stack hurt employee retention, use these tips to improve worker IT satisfaction | ZDNet

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