Bosses support monitoring home workers

A majority of business leaders in the UK are in favour of using at least one measure to monitor the performance of employees working from home, according to a new survey.

Shot of a businesswoman editing a sheet on her computer
But the HR organisation, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) - which conducted the survey with software company HiBob - warned that such monitoring must be conducted with employee wellbeing at its heart.Otherwise, the CIPD warned, it could lead to suspicion and ill-feeling among staff at a time when hybrid working has become the norm, rather than the exception.
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Limiting employee burnout

The survey of more than 2,000 executives found that 55 per cent of them backed collecting information on regular home workers, including time spent on laptops each day and email-sending behaviour, to identify the risk of burnout.Currently, however, only 28 per cent of organisations said their organisations were using software to monitor the productivity of these workers.Hayfa Mohdzaini, Senior Research Adviser at the CIPD, said: “The move to increased hybrid and remote working has fuelled the debate on employee monitoring practices and what is acceptable.“Depending on the context, collecting information on home workers can be a positive thing, supporting employee performance and wellbeing, by identifying signs of excessive workloads and burnout."And certainly, it can be necessary in specific roles and industries, for example where there are billable hours. However, when used without a clear reason it will likely be treated with suspicion by employees.“We recommend that employers be transparent about what they’re monitoring and why, consulting with staff to make sure these measures are necessary and relevant to their role. Employers need to demonstrate how any monitoring software used can benefit employees, while also respecting their privacy and encouraging a culture of trust.”

Acceptability of monitoring home workers

The survey, part of the CIPD series ‘Technology, the Workplace and People Management’, found that 39 per cent of respondents did not feel any measures to collect information on regular home workers were acceptable.Among the measures supported by those who did support monitoring, almost a quarter favoured tracking the amount of time spent on billable tasks for clients, while a similar proportion backed monitoring the quantity, but not the content, of emails sent.Slightly smaller proportions favoured recording how much time employees spent on their laptops; monitoring work outside normal office hours; and time spent on non-work-related websites.

Matching monitoring to culture

Ronni Zehavi, CEO and co-founder at HiBob, commented: “Ultimately, how a business decides to measure performance, growth or company success will reflect on that organisation’s culture."Progressive businesses understand that a healthy culture based on transparency, communication and flexibility drives sustainable growth and positive business outcomes."It is intrinsically tied to being able to attract and retain the best talent. Survey findings bear this out, with HR decision makers placing organisation culture in the list of top five business focuses for the next 12 months."Mr Zehavi said that it was understandable for businesses to want to gain insights into what their staff spent time doing and how long it took them to complete tasks."But," he added, "collecting more information than is needed to fulfil any audit purpose could undermine trust and impact the relationship between staff and employers, irrevocably damaging employee engagement - the cornerstone of any HR strategy.”

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