Monday 9 March 2020 6:37 am

DEBATE: Should companies use tracking software to monitor their staff?

Chris Richards is regional president UK and Ireland at Unit4.
and Jasmit Sagoo
Jasmit Sagoo is senior director and head of technology UK and Ireland at Veritas Technologies.

Following the Barclays scandal, should firms use tracking software to monitor their staff?

YES, says Jasmit Sagoo, senior director and head of technology UK and Ireland at Veritas Technologies

Monitoring is not the same as “spying”. In most cases, it is businesses being obliged to track activities for compliance — and it’s almost always better to use software than humans. 

Financial services firms, like Barclays, are a good example. In order to comply with regulations, banks are required to sample employee emails for signs of malpractice. This often involves researchers reading people’s mail, which can feel a bit “Big Brother”. But as workers, we’ve become accustomed to employers scanning our emails — they’re scanned for viruses, filtered for junk, and so on. The reason most of us are nonchalant about this is that it’s all done by machine. We don’t mind because there isn’t a person involved.

The same goes for compliance scanning. And the better the software, the fewer false positives — which means that innocent emails won’t need to be checked by colleagues. 

If there’s no choice about whether or not to monitor, there should be no question about using software to do it.

NO, says Chris Richards, regional president UK and Ireland at Unit4

Trust is an essential commodity in business. How can businesses expect to get the best out of their people if they are seen to be breathing down employees’ necks and watching over their every move? 

No matter what industry you are in, people need to feel good to give their best at work.

After all, work is where we spend most of our time. Imagine coming into work knowing that Big Brother is watching over your shoulder, calling you out on every little break you take. 

It is not hard to see how this will leave any employee feeling untrusted, disengaged and unmotivated to come into work. The only way to get the best out of your staff is to put people first. 

Technology needs to work for the people, not against them. Businesses that fail to recognise this will be on the certain path towards a disengaged employee base before they know it. 

The bottom line is that unhappy people equals unhappy customers — and that’s how a business starts to go downhill fast.

Main image credit: Getty

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.