GPS Tracking at Work. How Do Employees Feel?

Where did GPS come from?

GPS, or Global Positioning Systems, was born during the “Sputnik Era” circa mid 1960s . The US Navy first used GPS to track submarines carrying nuclear missiles. Today, GPS is engrained in our everyday lives. We use it to track our packages from Amazon, route unfamiliar vacation spots, and to check-in on social media. Even employers are using the technology to track their employees while on the clock – especially in Field Service Industries.

We all strive to be at the top of our game. Whether we are a seasoned vet or a rookie intern, we all like to think we know how to do our job best. But, at some point in time, each of us has probably had the dreaded “Micromanager.”

Micromanaging is probably what first comes to mind when an employee hears “GPS tracking in the workplace.” Employers are looking for reassurance on operational efficiencies, like preventing time theft, but on the other side, some employees see it as an invasion of privacy. So, naturally, the line between monitoring and micromanaging gets blurry.

Employees’ opinions on GPS Tracking might surprise you

TSheets by QuickBooks, commissioned an independent survey of employees to learn more about their experiences with workplace GPS tracking. The results were more favorable than you probably assume.

Don’t assume employees will react negatively to GPS tracking

Whether or not you plan on bringing GPS to your business, it’s helpful to note that the majority of employees have positive attitudes about the technology. Our survey discovered that 65 percent of employees who use GPS at work reported a positive experience, and only about 4 percent said the opposite.”

Chart showing positive employee experience with GPS Tracking

GPS tracking isn’t about spying on people — it’s about safety

According to the survey, the No. 1 reason employers implement GPS tracking is for safety. If you have employees in the field, scattered across multiple job sites, knowing where they’re at any given moment is crucial to their well being.

Other common reasons businesses use GPS tracking include employee accountability, efficiency, and mileage tracking.

Top reasons employers use GPS tracking

Top Reasons Employers Use GPS Tracking

Getting Your employees on board may not be as difficult as you think

Today, GPS is more common in the lives of employees than you might assume. Nearly 75% of all employees surveyed say they have a strong to a really strong understanding of the technology.

graph of 74% of employees having  a strong understanding of GPS Tracking

A small percentage of employees said they are uncomfortable with GPS tracking. However, an overwhelming 78% said they feel comfortable with it.

graph of 78% of employees being comfortable with GPS Tracking

There seems to be a correlation between the understanding and comfort levels of GPS tracking. The survey shows that implementing GPS tracking with your employees will be a relatively seamless process and that the technology will be embraced upon introduction.

Communication is Key

Like any new policy, being upfront, transparent and getting employee feedback is critical. And just because an employee doesn’t speak up doesn’t mean that they don’t have concerns. Be a leader and start the conversation.

SHRM, the  Society for Human Resource Management, says that in addition to understanding the legal requirements of implementing GPS tracking, you must also be able to demonstrate that there is a legitimate business rationale behind the decision, such as:

  1. Trying to improve response time and efficiency of routes.
  2. Maintaining accurate timekeeping records.
  3. Increasing safety and/or productivity and helping to prevent theft.

Most importantly, make sure you have a written policy that clearly states what and when the GPS tracking will be used for. Also, you should include how the data will be collected and how will that data be used. It’s best practice to only track employees while on the clock, and ensure that their privacy is fully restored in their home life.

Even with the challenges of GPS tracking, many employees recognize the benefits of having the technology at work – namely, the assurance they’ll be paid for their hours worked. With data pointing to an increase in positive employee experience with GPS, the practice will only continue to gain popularity.

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