The shift to remote work (full- or part-time) is here to stay and companies are relying more on tech to help them manage daily operations â€“ from virtually onboarding new hires to improving the overall employee experience. Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems are also increasingly being used to assess employee behavior and productivity ever since the pandemic broke out.
How Do the Monitoring Tools Work?
Companies are using AI-enabled systems to determine employee behavior in the same fashion as AI is used to understand customers and shoppers. These tools not only provide basic activity logging with alerts, but they can also use multivariate analyses to decode positive actions and/or misbehavior. With a higher degree of prevalence of such monitoring tools, Gartner predicts that organizations will have a tough time to tackle the growing number of workers who would try to evade them.
The independent global research and advisory firm also found that by 2023 more than one-in-ten workersOpens a new window would try to trick the AI-led monitoring systems.
Whit Andrews, research vice-president at Gartner, believes workers will quickly discover the gaps in AI-based surveillance strategies and exploit them much like every other technological advancement. â€œThey may do so for a variety of reasons, such as in the interest of lower workloads, better pay or simply spite. Some may even see tricking AI-based monitoring tools as more of a game to be won than disrespecting a metric that management has a right to know,â€ she added.
Can an AI-led Tracking System Be Fooled?
Despite AI advancing leaps and bounds in recent times and becoming an integral part of our lives, it is still very vulnerable to being sabotaged. Researchers have already demonstrated how various types of AI system can easily be tricked. For instance, facial-recognition systems can be deceived by sticking a printed pattern on glasses and speech-recognition systems can be tricked into hearing phantom phrases by inserting patterns of white noise in the audio.
Clearly an AI-driven employee behavior tracking system too is far from being an invincible mechanism either. The system can be gamed by generating false or confusing data or seeking out loopholes where metrics do not capture activity.
Notes of Displeasure
It seems that employees feel somewhat betrayed if monitored by AI-driven tracking system. In its study from H2 last year, ClutchOpens a new window â€“ a leading B2B ratings and reviews firm â€“ revealed that 21% of employees surveyed said Â their employers track them with employee monitoring software and one-third of them believe the usage of such software would reduce trust.
Especially, executives and Gen Xers are apprehensive of the negative effects of employee monitoring systems on employees’ morale.
Grey Idol, the co-founder of PayrollFunding, remarks, â€œMy entire team is remote, and I do not use employee monitoring software to track their work. I hire adults, not children, and I trust them to manage their time properly.â€
HR Technology News: A Buyers Guide to Applicant Tracking SystemsOpens a new window
Is It All Bad?
Deploying AI-enabled monitoring systems might erode the trust between employer and employees, but their importance cannot be underplayed, especially during the pandemic times when a large proportion of the global workforce is working remotely. If rightly used in a transparent manner, the tracking tech can ensure that employees follow the right work practices and deliver on productivity and business outcomes.
Andrews observes that IT leaders, who are considering deploying such tools, should monitor the data sources closely. Besides, they should also explore a people-centric user experience design and the initial use case intended for these tools. Â â€œDetermine whether the purpose and scope of data collection support employees doing their best work. For those that do decide to invest, ensure that the technology is being implemented ethically by testing it against a key set of human-centric design principles,â€ he added.