Employee Backlash Grows As More Employers Monitor Productivity

In October 2020, almost one in three European employees said that their employers used software to monitor their productivity while working from home. Today, as companies launch new flexible work policies, software that allows employers to monitor employees’ productivity gains popularity worldwide. Companies that choose to deploy this technology today must prepare to manage the consequences in the next 12 months.

Privacy Regulators Are Acting, And More Action Will Happen In 2022

According to the General Data Protection Regulation enforcement tracker, fines and penalties for violations of an employee’s privacy are in the top five for total highest values. Across the top 10 single, highest fines issued so far, the violation of an employee’s privacy accounts for two of them. Regulators are investigating a variety of employee surveillance methods. In the case of retailer H&M, the regulator found that the employer systematically built and kept excessive and overly exposed records concerning employee personal and professional life; in the case of notebooksbilliger.de, the regulator concluded that the company recorded videos of its employees for an extended period of time without the appropriate legal basis; in the case of IKEA retail France, the company’s former CEO was served with a suspended, two-year prison sentence as part of the investigation against the brand for excessive and unlawful staff surveillance and data collection. Tattleware has become the newest method of employee monitoring. Regulators, take note.

Employees Will Increasingly Feel Mistrusted And Concerned

Employee backlash will grow as employers attempt to monitor how often employees click, what they click on, and when they are facing their computers. Underestimating employees’ privacy attitude is a mistake. When it comes to sharing their personal data, our research shows that over 40% of employees across the UK, France, and Germany are comfortable sharing with their employer only the minimum required by law. The same number of French employees worry that their employer is collecting too much of their personal information. And a staggering 57% of French, 46% of UK, and 44% of German employees wish that they had a higher degree of privacy protection in the workplace. Finally, if their employer breached their trust, employees described their feelings as “betrayed” and “upset.”

Tattleware Adoption Will Degrade The Employee Experience, Productivity, And Security

Feelings of betrayal and mistrust will have a negative impact on employees’ loyalty, engagement, and experience. Despite being an enormous risk, this is not the only one organisations face. Without adequate communication and transparent approaches, negative employee sentiment might also extend to other forms of workforce monitoring that have nothing to do with tattleware, such as insider threat programmes. These programmes, typically run by security teams to prevent exfiltration of sensitive data that often happens because of well-intentioned employees’ mistakes, will become more difficult to justify and adopt. Forrester predicts that, in response to increased regulatory scrutiny and more intense employee backlash against workforce monitoring, CISOs will reduce the scope of their insider threat programmes, with adverse results. In fact, this will increase the company’s risk of insiders stealing data.

Privacy, Security, And Employee Experience Professionals Must Act Now To Prevent Business Damage

Privacy execs, CISOs, HR, and CIOs must join forces to ensure their workforce monitoring programmes don’t damage their organization or their workforce’s productivity and engagement. They must strengthen the governance of their workforce monitoring activities, making sure they put in place clear and transparent communication with their employees, choose approaches that are never excessive or disproportionate, and ensure that they have the adequate legal basis in place before deploying any workforce monitoring technology. They must also work to educate their organisation about the benefits of the programme and ensure that employees understand the boundaries in place that prevent the disproportionate collecting, processing, and sharing of employees’ personal data.

To understand all the major dynamics that will impact European businesses next year, download Forrester’s complimentary Predictions guide, or visit our Predictions 2022 hub.