5 Questions to Ask When Your Boss Starts Using Employee GPS Tracking
How would you feel if your employer asked you to install a GPS tracking app on your personal smartphone or in your company vehicle?
More and more companies are integrating employee monitoring into their everyday operations. Delivery companies with a fleet of vehicles on the roads can use tracking to keep tabs on their trucks as they make deliveries, while other businesses (running factories, warehouses, and offices) can evaluate workers’ movements and productivity.
There is a constructive reason behind the majority of employee tracking: to improve the workforce’s performance and, in turn, that of the entire business.
However, this technology comes with great responsibility – and companies that fail to exercise caution can pay significantly.
One example is the case of a Californian woman named Myrna Arias, who downloaded a tracking app onto her phone at her employer’s request. She was asked to keep this running all day, every day, something with which she felt uncomfortable.
She continued to leave the app running but found her employer discussing her out-of-work activities, such as how fast she was driving at certain times.
Arias uninstalled the app, was fired shortly after and eventually sued the company for $500,000.
Another example is that of an Irish company that installed surveillance equipment in an employee’s vehicle without their knowledge. This company ended up having to pay compensation of €40,000.
When used properly, employee tracking is an effective addition to a business’ working processes and can help identify ways in which a business can improve. Companies should be as transparent as possible at every stage when implementing monitoring technology, whether on smartphones or in vehicles.
It is understandable that any employee on discovering that their boss is planning to introduce tracking technology will have questions. Here are five such questions you should ask for your own reassurance.
How Will the Data Collected Be Used?
This is essential: your employer should be honest about the data they are gathering using employee tracking, and how they plan to use it.
Workers are more likely to agree to being monitored during business hours if they know exactly what information is being taken and why. For example, delivery drivers may be concerned that their employer is checking how long they take for a toilet break or to grab some refreshments. In all probability, their employer will have no interest in these minor details. Employers would be more interested in employee fuel usage, routes taken and if speed limits were being adhered to.
The introduction of tracking could lead to a sense of resentment and affect loyalty if certain issues aren’t addressed as soon as possible. It’s vital that companies make it clear that they are not spying on their employees or gathering evidence against them.
Will GPS Tracking Affect Your Privacy?
If a tracking device is installed in a vehicle you only use during working hours, it’s highly unlikely that your personal privacy will be at stake. The same applies to tracking apps installed on a phone only switched on during work shifts.
However, if the technology is downloaded onto a personal smartphone, you may need to clarify certain issues with your employer. They should tell you when the tracking will be active and what the data will be used for.
Companies must understand that unethical tracking can seriously affect the bond of trust between themselves and their workers. Being honest will help to preserve that and reduce the risk of low morale.
Does Your Employer Have Good Reason to Track?
There are many legitimate reasons to track employees’ activities during working hours.
Delivery drivers may be taking inefficient routes which result in late drop-offs or collections and contribute to excessive fuel expenditure. Tracking gives businesses the chance to monitor their drivers’ patterns and identify areas for improvement. They may be able to suggest more time- and cost-efficient routes and allow the driver to be more productive during their shifts.
Likewise, employees in offices, factories, or warehouses can be monitored to cut down on wasted time. For example, employees may be forced to backtrack in order to accomplish certain tasks, tracking could allow a business to streamline this process.
Workers who are not pulling their weight and relying on others to do their work for them can also be identified, allowing for a more balanced, harmonious workforce.
How Long Will Tracking Be Active?
A business may not decide to implement employee tracking on a permanent basis. They may use it as a temporary measure, to address such problems as low productivity, missed deadlines.
Your employer should provide a detailed breakdown of the initiative, outlining how long they plan to monitor and why. If this is a trial period, your employer should state how long the testing will last and what actions they will take once it’s complete.
All employees should be made aware of the hours in which monitoring will take place, and in what capacity (in vehicles, in smartphones, in wearable tech).
How Secure are Tracking Apps?
All apps or devices being used to GPS track employees have to be secure, and companies should ensure they are checked before implementation.
Any tracking app or tool which carries an employee’s name, address, role within the company, date of birth or other sensitive data needs to have strong security measures in place to prevent unauthorised users accessing it.
Such information could be used to hack personal accounts or gain entry to the business’ data. Companies should take every step to ensure that apps or tools use the latest encryption technology and pose minimal risk to everyone involved.
Asking these five key questions will help you feel more comfortable and confident when your employer introduces tracking. Ensure they understand your, and your colleagues’, concerns at the earliest opportunity, and you will be able to work together to make its integration a success.
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