One of the many things the pandemic surfaced is how employers monitor lone workers. A Harvard Business Review article found that even before we were all sent home to work, over 60% of C-suite executives reported leveraging digital tools to collect employee data (HBR, 2020). This “corporate surveillance” has left employees hesitant and suspicious of company-mandated apps and programs.
One area where employers do have a duty to provide employee overwatch is regarding safety—particularly for lone workers and those in potential at-risk environments. Shared ownership is critical to employee buy-in and policy effectiveness.
Below are four ways companies can encourage compliance without twisting the proverbial arm.
Trust is an essential component of any relationship—and the same is true between employer and employee. Employers have a duty of care to make every effort to ensure safe work environments for their employees. But employee check-in check-out apps, personal panic buttons that provide GPS location, and other lone worker safety monitoring tools can feel like privacy infringements if the messaging is unclear. When asking your staff to use apps or other solutions designed for their safety, clear communication of purpose goes a long way.
Communicating the why along with the how gives context. At the same time, be transparent about what data is or isn’t being collected and for what purpose. Then, stick to the script. Articulate and broadcast policy changes, so there are no surprises.
What information do you ACTUALLY need to keep your employees safe? For lone workers, you may need their GPS location in the event of an emergency, but do you need it throughout the rest of the day? With every additional piece of information collected, employee hesitancy increases. Start small, and build if necessary, but avoid “carte blanche” collection. If your staff feels like they are being micro-managed or there is significant and unnecessary overreach, compliance and engagement will nosedive.
Is lone worker safety app use mandatory for employees? Be careful to avoid situations where there may be feelings of discrimination or where certain groups feel unfairly singled out. And if there is a valid reason for this discrepancy, refer back to point one and broadcast the rationale loud and clear. Craft company policy to protect employee autonomy, even as you aim to protect both them and your business while they are in the field.
Make decisions based on the risks you are trying to mitigate—not on what information could be reverse-engineered down the road. This assures employees that any check-in or location tracking procedures are genuinely about their safety—not about corporate leverage. Connecting safety/privacy-related decisions to specific risk metrics can also help draft consistent policies and ensure proportional collection.
At SolusGuard, we are committed to doing everything possible to ensure your employees feel secure and have access to help while at the same time championing their autonomy and ability to do the job. After all—they are lone workers because they are trustworthy. We help employers protect their businesses and staff by making occupational health and safety compliance simple and easy. Our lone worker safety app offers an unparalleled degree of immediate emergency support.