The Growth of AI and Employee Monitoring In the Workplace
By Veriato - March 26, 2018
Recently the Economist published two articles that discussed the increasing use of AI and employee monitoring in the workplace.
Veriato is pleased that we were referenced in both of these articles. We feel they did a good job of presenting a balanced view of the benefits both AI and employee monitoring offer, as well as the potential downsides if they are not implemented and used wisely.
In the case of AI, there is a great deal of hype at present, which can lead some to give in to the temptation to rush a deployment. Organizations should be very clear about their goals for any technology and be deliberate in ensuring that they are aligning its power to those goals.
In the article published on 28 March, the author gives some great examples of how employing AI can enhance organizational capabilities in areas of hiring, productivity, worker safety, and management (yes, even management is getting AI’ed – it isn’t just the proverbial little guy).
A key takeaway from all this is to remember that we are dealing with people. Humans have bad days, make mistakes, and sometimes complain. But, without a doubt, it is people that make great organizations great. We must keep the human element involved in interpreting data produced by AI, and in determining how to act on it.
In the case of employee monitoring software, a more established technology, organizations should be transparent with their people about what data is being collected or generated and how it is used. Their benefits include increased productivity through improved investigations and the prevention of both insider and external theft of company assets. Here again, the goal should dictate how the technology is utilized.
Transparency does not mean employers need to disclose exact methods. But going beyond the letter of the law and communicating intention is simply a best practice. Once again, we are talking about people.
We should not seek to replace human decision making when it comes to employment offers, worker assessments, investigations, and the like. We can and should seek to present additional sources of information to enable better human decision making. In the same article referenced above, the author correctly points to Veriato as a firm that can capture, report, and alert on all activity occurring on an employee’s computer. We have been providing benefits to organizations through this capability for 20 years, in more than 100 countries around the world. And we consistently work to ensure our tools provide mechanisms to protect privacy, despite the seeming continuity our customers experience. The author suggests that as voice-enabled speakers become more commonplace, employee monitoring could extend to listen in on conversations occurring in the workplace. It is possible that some company may try and go down that path. Veriato won’t. And I believe that any organization that does move in this direction is in for some deservedly uncomfortable legal discussions.