What Your Employees Really Think About GPS Tracking at Work

May 24, 2018 Published by
Malcolm Rosenfeld Blog 1 - What Employees Think About GPS

As a business owner, you want to protect your business, including its assets. That can include things like products, vehicles, equipment, but also that your employees are where they’re supposed to be during working hours, how far they’re traveling and if they deviate from a prescribed route if transport and delivery or other types of travel are part of their job. The easy solution is to use GPS tracking of some kind either on your company vehicles, on assets, or your employees with a tracking app on their mobile phone. But what do your employees really think about GPS tracking at work?

Earlier this year, Intuit’s Quickbooks time tracking subsidiary TSheets released its report on how employees from 4 different countries really feel about GPS tracking at work. Tsheet’s report was a collaboration with the survey company, Pollfish and contains some surprising results. Keep reading for our breakdown of the study including our recommendations for introducing GPS tracking to your employees. It’s all part of this month’s blog focus on the issues surrounding how companies and organizations are using GPS to protect either their assets or the public at large.

Although the study contains results for 4 different countries, the United States, Canada, Australia, and the U.K., for the purpose of this post, we’re going to focus on the results for the U.S.

How do your employees feel about your company’s use of GPS tracking?

According to the Tsheets report, how employees feel about being tracked by GPS at work depends on if they’re already being tracked by their employer or if they’ve never worked somewhere where their employer used GPS tracking. 54% of employees in the US who had experience with GPS tracking at work had a positive feeling about it and 41% of the same group felt neutral about it. However, employees surveyed who had never been tracked by GPS at work felt a bit differently. Of that group, 38% had negative feelings about an employer using GPS tracking to track employees.

What are your employees’ main concerns about GPS tracking at work?

Another surprising result of the study was what employees main concerns were about GPS tracking at work. Unlike what you might expect, the number 1 concern was if GPS tracking would have an adverse effect on their mobile device’s battery life, not their privacy. Of employees who’ve had experience with an employer who uses GPS tracking, battery life was the main concern for 61% and for those who had no experience, there was only a difference about 10% with 70% listing battery life as their main concern.

But let’s get back to the privacy concerns we just mentioned. Nearly an equal 50/50 split of employees who had experience with an employer who used GPS tracking have concerns regarding their privacy and being tracked when they’re not working and of employees who have never been tracked via GPS by an employer, 66% were concerned about being tracked outside of working hours and almost 70% were concerned about their privacy. Employees also listed phone data as a concern, especially employees who had never been tracked via GPS by an employer before.

What do employees like about GPS tracking at work?

Between the groups of employees who had experience with GPS tracking and those who didn’t, there was nearly a unanimous agreement when it came to what they all liked about GPS tracking at work. When employees surveyed were asked about what they see as the benefits of GPS tracking at work are, most people listed things like “tracking travel and mileage” and ensuring I get paid what I’m owed” as the top benefits. Other benefits people chose were “accountability,” and “safety.” Again both groups listed the same positives about an employer using GPS tracking.

How should you prepare employees for GPS tracking at work?

These days most people are comfortable using GPS tracking in their personal lives. Most of us have enabled location services on apps we use every day such as Google Maps, other maps apps, weather apps, fitness apps, and even social media apps such as Facebook. The TSheets study also surveyed people about their personal GPS use.

It’s clear from the recent study that your employees already use GPS in many areas of their life and that they can see many benefits from an employer introducing GPS tracking at work. So given that there are a lot more concern and possible resistance to introducing GPS tracking if most of your employees have never been tracked by a previous employer, how should you prepare your employees for its introduction?

The good news is that according to the report, most of your employees aren’t going to quit if you decide to start using GPS tracking of your fleet, your assets or your employees. Easing the transition from no tracking to GPS tracking will go along way towards helping your employees understand why you’re introducing it and that you’re not trying to pry into their personal lives. Unless your employee has the use of a company vehicle and you have policies where they’re not allowed to use it for anything not related to work, it’s a good idea to assure employees you won’t be tracking them after work hours. If your device can be turned off by your employees, make sure you are clear about consequences for when an employee deactivates their work GPS during work hours.

Conclusion

It turns out that as long as your employees understand why your company uses GPS tracking, understand how GPS tracking at work works and are given advance notice before GPS tracking starts, many employees don’t mind being tracked, won’t quit, and can actually see benefits for both their bosses and themselves.

The main concerns about GPS tracking at work were more about battery life and phone data use than they were about privacy and being spied on by an employer. The concerns about battery life and data can be alleviated by employers providing work cell phones and any privacy concerns can be alleviated by automatically shutting off tracking when workers clock out or by allowing your employees to shut tracking off when they weren’t working or weren’t operating equipment and vehicles owned by their employer.

What do you think about GPS tracking of employees and things like fleet tracking or asset tracking? Let us know in the comments below. In our next post, we’ll talk about how state police in Massachusetts are upset about the introduction of GPS tracking of patrol cars.

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