HRIS Productivity Tracking Software – Boon, Bust or an Invasion of Privacy?

HR Software
The image of Orwell’s Big Brother is always dredged up whenever a manager or business owner brings up the subject of tracking software. The argument is always the same – no one has the right to police my personal activities. The point that these so-called “defenders of personal liberty” miss is that employers don’t give a fig about what you do on your own time, they just don’t want to pay you for doing your personal business.

With the recognition of this simple truth, productivity tracking software makes sense for both the employer and the employee. In the simplest case, the employer will understand better what he is paying for and the motivated employee will be credited for doing a job superior to his coworkers. In short, it is a win-win situation for both the company and the dedicated and truly driven employees in an office space.

Tracking Employee Activity

There are over a dozen products on the market that monitor everything from the simplest of tasks such as automated time clocks, to ones that monitor the online activity of employees. While both types of software simply track employee activity, the former is accepted by the overwhelming majority of employees while the latter is more often seen as some invasion of privacy. In seemingly identical cases, the sanctity of the employee’s personal space remains inviolate while, in the other, it is not.

This dichotomy in the minds of employees evidenced by the above facts is indeed interesting. While a majority of employees freely admit that they goof off at work, none really consider it a detriment to their employer.

In response to this lackadaisical attitude towards “working while they are at work," employers have endeavored to enact measures to control such unproductive activities as “surfing the web,” updating social media sites and competing in online auctions. These measures have ranged from banning smart phones and other “connected” devices from company spaces to completely blocking Internet access on the company premises.

The backlash has been uniformly negative as employees and managers complain that the lack of online access hurts their personal initiatives as well as the needs of the company. Still, employers recognize that they have a productivity problem.

An HRIS Solution – Online Tracking

Measuring productivity is certainly an inexact science. Even the genius Thomas Edison didn’t truly understand it. He kept a man on the payroll for thirty years hoping that the employee would eventually have another idea like his first one that made millions for Edison. The employee never did.

Measuring the output of creative types such as marketing execs or graphic designers is problematic but it seems self-evident that whatever they are thinking about is not really relevant to Facebook, Ebay or Amazon. In a worst case scenario, tracking the online work activities of these types of employees can significantly help in determining the overachievers from the laggards.

The phenomenon is not limited to those with 'idea' jobs, however, as many lower-echelon employees simply fill in their work day with “cyber-loafing.” It may seem like insignificant amounts of productivity are lost on an individual level but small and mid-size companies cannot afford to have the efforts of their employees sidetracked. A well-designed and implemented online productivity tracking solution is one of the best ways to counteract this “insignificant” problem.