Good for Business or Bad for Morale?
As seemingly every part of the world becomes interconnected, whether through the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) or next week’s hottest technology, more apps are being developed for the boss to act like and be perceived as Big Brother.
One of these is WorkPuls. It certainly has all the features to allow a manager or senior executives to know exactly what their employees are doing virtually every minute of the day.
- Real-time view of current activities
- Time and attendance
- Measure usage of apps and Websites
- Measure time spent on documents
- Feedback for personal development
For control freaks and cold-hearted curmudgeons, WorkPuls is a dream come true: everyone can be scrutinized whenever the boss chooses. The bean counters, who are typically more concerned with beans than humans, can discover new ways to squeeze every last drop of productivity from the workforce and maximize the ROI.
Looking, digitally, over my shoulder
Employees, however, may have quite different perspectives. First, many people, might simply not been able to perform at their best when someone is literally or “digitally” looking over their shoulder. Even the most confident and focused of us tend to be nervous when someone is watching us do our job – especially if he or she is watching too closely and with a critical look in his or her eye.
Employees might also think that the use of such an app in the workplace is a sign that the people in charge inherently don’t trust their employees. Professional and successful people expect their boss to have complete trust in them until they prove otherwise. It’s a long-understood covenant in the employer-employee relationship.
No doubt, there are some companies and workplace environments where WorkPuls is definitely needed and/or adds value.
- The specific nature of the work and/or the brief experience of the employees.
- It certain has value to monitor trainees or new employees during the typical 90-day “tryout” period.
- WorkPuls could also enhance performance data or other standards the company uses to measure productivity of individuals, teams and/or departments. Managers would be able to identify who may need additional or remedial training, which employees are much more likely to view as a positive.
- Managers could utilize what WorkPuls reveals for probably its most positive value: to identify those employees who are working “above-and-beyond” that could earn them a raise and/or promotion.
- It could even help a manager to identify someone who is working too much and needs and deserves some time off or even a vacation.
Do employees deserve to be scrutinized?
All of that being said, however, does “nose-to-the-grindstone” Harold, with more years at the company than anyone, including all of the executives (combined), and ever-loyal Liz, who is like a mother to the boss, deserve such scrutiny? In addition, both likely know more about the boss’ role and responsibilities than he or she does.
It would be interesting to know if the team at WorkPuls faced a conscious moral dilemma when developing the app. None of us would like to think a group of retired, formerly very cranky bosses started the company as an opportunity to make the newest (and future) generation of workers squirm.
- Were they concerned such a tool could be wrongly used in the hands of a no-nonsense, grind-them-under-my-heel kind of boss?
- Did they take into account how a well-polished workforce or a closely-knit project team might react to the idea of the boss having the ability to watch their activities constantly or at any random moment?
- Did they think about how their app might de-personalize employees in the mind of their boss?
- Did they consider that WorkPuls might allow some managers to substitute its use for their intuition, which they’ve developed through years of experience and which has served them well to this point?
Do the positives outweigh the negatives?
Given how carefully companies research and develop their products – and always concern themselves with the strength and reputation of their brand in a social-media world – it’s likely the people at WorkPuls addressed these issues and decided the positive values of their app totally outweighed any possible negatives.
Humans create all products, so they are inherently imperfect; and, although this is not an endorsement of WorkPuls, it is an app that will benefit many companies and workplace environments. Let’s hope the bosses, managers and executives use it humanely and first spend time figuring out how it can add value to their employees and remember that data and metrics can be used for reward and not just for productivity monitoring.