You want to make sure your sales people are actually spending their time seeing clients. You want to know that your delivery drivers aren't speeding. You want to know that your company vehicles, with the company name plastered on the side, aren't being driven to inappropriate locations and parked in seedy parking lots. So, there are fabulous apps that you can install on your employees' smartphones to track their locations every moment of every day.

Sounds great, except for that part about every minute of every day. A recently filed lawsuit claims that one company, at least, didn't just use the tracking software to track their employees on the clock, but all of the time. The employee, Myrna Arias, claims she was fired after she uninstalled the app.

Now, you can never tell anything from a filed lawsuit. She may have been fired for other reasons, and is blaming it on this. But, the reality is, companies can do this type of invasive tracking and some, undoubtedly do. Even if it's legal to require your employees to keep this type of an app on their phone, you absolutely should not do this. Tracking 24 hours a day is ridiculous and invasive.

The temptation to control every aspect of our employees lives seems to be growing. Prior to the day of GPS trackers and social media, we said goodbye to our employees an colleagues at 5:00 pm and didn't care what they did between then and 8:00 the next morning. Now, we not only expect our employees to be available all the time, now we want to know where they are?

Frankly, it's appalling. Here are some guidelines for tracking your employees.

Do your tracking policies and devices comply with all laws? Don't just think on a federal level-state, and local laws apply just as much as federal ones do. Before you implement any such program, double check with the lawyers. And remember, if you have a sales force that covers multiple states, you need to make sure you're in compliance in every state, not just where your corporate offices are.

Is this necessary to judge performance? There are definitely some cases in which it is, but is it for your employee? Do you really need GPS to know what customers your employees are visiting? If they are getting the sales, does it matter if they are visiting or making phone calls? It may matter to you-that's your business decision. But before you track your employees, make sure it is necessary.

Is there a valid business reason? Having solid data that your drivers aren't speeding can be great for your insurance rates. But, do you need to know if your employees are speeding to the movies after work? Of course, it's not. Then it's not a valid business reason so you shouldn't be tracking after hours.

Is this the least invasive way to track your employees? Does the app automatically turn off when the workday ends? If not, who controls it? The employee or the boss? Is there another way you could track? For instance, a GPS tracker installed on company trucks ensures that you're not tracking when the employee is in a private vehicle or on foot.

What's your policy for misuse? In the Arias lawsuit, she claims that her boss purposely tracked her off hours and bragged about it. This type of behavior should be prohibited by your internal policies and anyone doing so should be disciplined. It's not funny. It's not harmless. It's horribly invasive and guaranteed to kill employee morale.

Consider that your employees are your most valuable asset. Unless you're doing heavy duty manufacturing, you spend more money on your talent than anything else. Excessive employee monitoring is likely to make your employees unhappy. Unhappy employees quit. Turnover is expensive. Is it worth the cost?

Published on: May 19, 2015
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