Artificial Intelligence to shake up Employee Monitoring

Written by Asim Qureshi
By Asim Qureshi, CEO Jibble

I’m the CEO and Founder of Jibble. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, I was an investment banker – I left as a Vice President at Morgan Stanley and then became one at Credit Suisse. I’m a physics grad with a keen interest in artificial intelligence, and homeschool dad to 3 kids.

In this article I’d like to explain why AI is going to shake up the way companies monitor and interact with their employees.

In this article I will cover

Remote working employee monitoring

COVID-19 had a transformative effect on how we work, leading to an unprecedented explosion in remote working. With more employees working from home than ever before, the need for effective and efficient monitoring has never been more critical. The inherent challenges of overseeing a dispersed workforce have highlighted the limitations of traditional management methods. As a result, organizations have increasingly turned to time tracking software to navigate these uncharted waters. The unique capabilities of artificial intelligence to enhance and monitor employee performance intelligently have positioned it as a vital tool in this new working reality.

“Before the pandemic, roughly 30% of large employers used some form of employee monitoring, now 60% of larger employers are using these technologies to track at least some of their employees.” – Wall Street Journal

The advent of artificial intelligence has brought significant changes in various aspects of life, and the workplace is no exception. AI can revolutionize how we manage and monitor employee performance. But while these changes can bring numerous benefits, they also bring up crucial questions about privacy, trust, and ethical use.

How can AI Automate and Improve Employee Monitoring?

A significant advantage of AI is its capability to automate many aspects of employee monitoring. Tasks that once required human intervention, such as observing computer use, internet browsing, and communication logs, can now be performed seamlessly by AI.

The commercial performance consultancy, Tollejo, notes a surge in the popularity of AI software for monitoring employees, particularly those working from home. By utilizing AI surveillance technologies, organizations can collect an extensive range of data on employees’ behaviors during work hours. This wealth of data can provide invaluable insights, helping organizations spot patterns or anomalies that might signal potential problems.

“Sales of monitoring software is booming… AI’s now prominent role in employee monitoring puts the industry front-and-center of the AI-ethics debate.” – Tollejo

How does AI Identify Unusual Behaviors and Reduce Risk in the Workplace?

The value of AI extends beyond mere data collection. Sophisticated AI algorithms can study the gathered data, analyze employee behavior patterns, and detect unusual activities. For instance, these algorithms can identify potential security threats, breaches of company policies, or even suspicious actions like unauthorized access or data leaks.

“The most remarkable thing about AI is its ability to learn and adapt… In the context of workforce surveillance, this means that the AI can learn what constitutes normal behavior for each employee and what might be a risk… By analyzing this data, the AI can provide early warning of potential risks, allowing management to address the issue before it escalates.” – Andrey Koptelov, Towards Data Science

The early identification of such risks allows companies to take proactive measures to minimize potential damage. By swiftly addressing these anomalies, businesses can improve their security posture and protect their valuable assets.

How does AI Boost Efficiency and Optimize Workflow?

“It’s fascinating that people are more excited about AI rescuing them from burnout than they are worried about it eliminating their jobs.” – Adam Grant, author, and organizational psychology professor

Machine learning, a subset of AI, can delve deeper into employee productivity. By examining the time employees spend on different tasks or projects, AI can identify areas of inefficiency and suggest improvements.

This type of data analysis can yield valuable information that can be used for multiple purposes. For example, performance reviews can be enhanced with hard data, resources can be allocated more effectively, and workflow can be improved to increase overall efficiency. The end result is a more streamlined, productive working environment.

What can AI do to Detect Employee Stress and Interpersonal Conflict?

AI isn’t just about improving workflow efficiency or reducing security risks. It can also play a significant role in managing workplace culture. For example, AI can analyze employee communication channels, such as emails, chats, and social media posts, to gauge sentiment.

“AI’s sentiment analysis capabilities can be applied to all internal communications. It uses machine learning to identify whether a piece of writing is positive, negative, or neutral and what that implies about the writer’s emotional state. This could reveal dissatisfaction or disengagement that managers need to address.” – Mark Taylor, Raconteur

This allows AI to detect signs of dissatisfaction, stress, or interpersonal conflicts. By identifying these issues early, employers can intervene and provide support when it’s needed most, fostering a healthier work environment and improving employee well-being.

How Does AI Support the Maintenance of Legal and Ethical Standards?

Another crucial role of AI employee monitoring software is ensuring compliance with various regulations, company policies, and ethical standards. AI tools can automatically scan through employee communications, documents, or transactions, searching for any compliance violations.

“By tracking and analyzing patterns AI can help companies ensure compliance. Unauthorized sharing of sensitive data or other potential policy violations, can be quickly identified and addressed. This proactive approach not only reduces the risk of non-compliance but also helps maintain a company’s reputation in the eyes of stakeholders and regulators.” – Harvard Business Review

There is a clear value for AI in helping organizations maintain their legal and ethical standing. With automatic alerts and reports, businesses can address issues swiftly, reducing the risk of non-compliance and the potential for damaging legal disputes.

How does AI Enhance Accountability and Manage Remote Work?

The rise of remote work has given AI an increasingly crucial role in employee monitoring. By keeping track of when remote employees log in and out, calculating active working hours, and evaluating overall productivity, AI helps ensure accountability even in a remote work setup.

“With remote working becoming more commonplace due to COVID-19, there has been a surge in the use of AI software for monitoring employees at home. Companies are turning to these technologies to ensure that productivity does not take a hit during this period of increased remote work.” – Tollejo

Managing remote teams can pose unique challenges, but AI can help bridge this gap. It allows companies to maintain a high level of oversight, ensuring that remote employees remain productive and accountable.

How Does AI Promote Skill Development and Enhancement?

AI doesn’t just monitor and evaluate employee performance; it can also play a pivotal role in employee development. By providing personalized feedback and recommendations, AI can suggest targeted training or coaching programs based on individual performance data.

“By delivering tailored coaching and personalized learning experiences, AI can have a profound impact on individual performance and, consequently, on the company as a whole.” Mark Taylor, Raconteur

By identifying areas for improvement, AI can foster skill-building and personal development. The end result is a more effective workforce, as employees can work on their weaknesses and enhance their strengths.

What are the Challenges and Considerations in AI Employee Monitoring?

Despite its significant potential, AI employee monitoring is not without its challenges. Striking the right balance between boosting productivity and respecting privacy is delicate. Businesses that can achieve this equilibrium will thrive, while those that fail risk obsolescence.

Clear guidelines on AI use should be defined by organizations and communicated transparently to their employees. This open dialogue can help maintain trust and foster a positive working environment, despite the increased surveillance.

However, the task of striking this balance isn’t the sole responsibility of individual organizations. The industry as a whole must participate in the discussion and help shape appropriate policies for implementing AI in the workplace. We sit at a point that will define our employee’s trust and interaction with AI management. If we get this wrong, then the industry may take years to rebuild the trust.

“If you don’t trust your employees and they don’t trust you, then you have a bigger fundamental problem. Monitoring doesn’t motivate. The real question that they are trying to solve is how we get the best out of people. How do we get our employees to perform better, to be more productive, and to align better with our values?” – Prasanth Nair, CEO, Double Gemini