Tracking and rewarding beneficial employee behavior in the IoT world

Dos and don’ts

In these uncertain times, everything that can be predicted must be predicted—valid even for employee behavior and its results for the company. In this article, we will explain why it is important and how it can be done via implementing tracking and rewarding IoT systems.

Technology is mercilessly penetrating more and more aspects of life. It appears in areas where, just a few years ago, we didn’t even think needed it. The Internet of Things (IoT) is fast-growing and hundreds of devices are deployed every day. You’ve probably read the statistics, the total installed base IoT connected devices worldwide is projected to amount to 30.9 billion units by 2025.

Naturally, businesses are getting more ideas about how to use IoT to their advantage. Not only is it the basis for all of the so-called “smart” cities and buildings and whatnots, but it is also useful in facility and resources management.  In terms of the office (or any workplace for that matter), we discussed some of the options previously in the article The Smart Office – an Asset That Every Business Leader Needs.

Resources are of utmost importance for any business and human resources are at the top. So it comes as no surprise that IoT technologies are starting to infiltrate HR as well.

Is it for the better? I guess it depends on the point of view. Let’s keep reading and see.

How and why?

There must be rules in the workplace, no matter how liberal. Supervision is a necessity and tracking how every employee performs is the main part of that. It is important not only to monitor productivity levels but to detect problems and cut losses as well.

Naturally, tracking and monitoring systems, as well as quality control, must be implemented in the work process.

We’re not talking about going full 1984 (you know, Orwell’s book) and creating a Big Brother effect in the workplace. To let the employer become the state, to monitor and dictate everything is an extreme that should be avoided. And if you think about it, it is way too much work anyway. Establishing and maintaining a status quo like that would require a lot of resources and at a small scale like a single company, it is not reasonable. Not to mention it is immoral.

The morality of IoT tracking

Speaking of morals, this seems to be the main issue that implementing IoT in the workplace faces. To a degree, this is true for every new technology ever implemented anywhere. If the masses do not fully understand it they fear it. Let’s be honest, the people who fully understand something are those who create it, and even that is not completely true as a single person cannot possibly see all the potential use cases. It is also true that almost every innovation, regardless of the initial beneficial idea behind it, can be used maliciously. But that shouldn’t mean that we must not use it anyways. After all, progress and better living require us to take those risks.

The key to the successful implementation of IoT solutions regarding monitoring employees is balance. The company must strive to do it in such a way that they won’t violate people’s rights and personal lives, while still meet the objective - bettering productivity.

The debate of where to draw the line with monitoring people, is heated and probably will never end. That is because this line is subjective for every individual. Not only that, the employer will always strive to gain more information and employees give less, but each employee is bound to have differences in what they are willing to share and at what cost.

That is right, you read correctly. In order to comply, people usually want to see something in return. Again, we circle to a needed balance.

Results, especially from such invasive measures, should be visible for everyone, not just the management. It will ensure that employees understand why those measures are being implemented in the first place, helping them be more compliant or even enthusiastic. This is not hard to do, despite how it seems! For example, if by implementing tracking systems in the workplace you, as an employer, manage to reduce costs, don’t just take that money as a profit. Better, invest it, or part of it at least, in bettering working conditions for your employees. That will not only increase even more productivity but also make them less reluctant to participate in the whole endeavor. Return the trust that your workers gave you!

Generations and technology

One other problem that companies will face (other than the moral one) is  convincing older generations of the perks of technology. We all have heard of the everlasting war between Boomers and Millennials, and the occasional bomb thrown by Gen Z. Even though “war” is a strong word and the generational conflicts are more or less exaggerated by society, the differences between them are a fact and indeed have an effect in the changing technological landscape.

The bigger part of the workforce at this point consists of generation Y members, better known as Millennials. And for implementing technological innovation, this is a good thing. Many researchers agree that the characteristics of generation Y are unique and different from the past generation. Generation Y has many resources, is energetic and action-oriented, follows trends, and is dependent on media and the internet for information. Other than that, they tend to be more open towards diversity, technology, online communication, flexibility, new inputs, and possibilities. Some aspects that are demanded by generation Y individuals are a career that is challenging, interesting, rewarding, satisfying and provides them with a good salary. Since generation Y is a technology-savvy generation, the use of technology in the organization will benefit both the organization and the employees with proper usage.

You may think that all of the above is true for all people to some degree, but it is not. Millennials are the way they are because of the times they grew up. Times of rapid change and an explosion of innovations that they needed to adapt to—fast. On the contrary: the generations before them had it pretty stable and monotonous regarding the workplace’s technological advances and the generations after that have all the technology since birth. The changes they both had to adapt to were not nearly as rapid.

Yet, workforce of the older generations is still present and will be for a few more years. And they just don’t understand the changes. Of course, this is an overgeneralization, but still a fact. People who had to adopt technology in a later stage of life tend to be suspicious of it and avoid it altogether. How then do you implement an IoT monitoring solution place where the Boomers still roam? Make it as unobtrusive as possible! Both in its physical aspects and usability. Less effort it requires from the employees, more likely for them to just go with it. If your solution is not noticeable in a way of taking up space, making noise, or another appearance-related aspect, it becomes easy to ignore because it doesn’t trigger sense-related disturbances in people. It does not bother them. This is quite easy to achieve with IoT—wireless devices, slick design, and remote management make it perfect for the job.

On the other hand, lies the problem with the level of engagement that is required from the employees for this system to work. “Unobtrusive” also should be true for the amount of effort required. If a system needs the constant attention of participants it becomes a burden. Not only will it obstruct the working process and take precious time, but it also will become simply annoying – another task with no productivity output.

The bad execution of a tracking solution could potentially create such a negative effect that it can even lead to productivity drops, quitting of employees, and overall financial losses.

Rewarding beneficial employee behavior

A popular approach is the reward system. This is also the step where the employer makes the biggest mistakes. Even if the tracking system didn’t stir up the spirits around the office, an unfair rewarding system surely will. Choosing a rewarding system from-a-book and implementing it as-is is a bad idea every time. The correct approach is to take one (or more) rewarding mechanism and modify it a bit (or a lot) to suit your  case.

Keep in mind that according to Herzberg and Maslow, the physiological and psychological needs and desires of employees must be met and maintained to keep them motivated. So, you as an employer should recognize your team’s needs and adjust the rewarding system accordingly.

The best reward systems have both extrinsic and intrinsic rewards. They cater to different personal motivators and using them both gives you the chance to motivate a bigger portion of your staff. Bravo explains the difference well:

  • Extrinsic rewards are usually financial or tangible rewards given to employees, such as pay raises, bonuses, and benefits.
    • They are extrinsic because they are external to completing the work itself and are controlled by people other than the employee.
    • They can be essential in jump-starting initial buy-in or participation from people in the initial stages of readiness to change (pre-contemplation or contemplation).
    • They usually have a limited impact over time if they are not increased.They are a powerful lever to reinforce and drive the behaviors that a culture values most but wouldn’t be the norm without. (e.g. sales commissions, performance bonuses, etc.)
    • Think of them as a defibrillator to a stopped heart. Their job is to get the heart beating on its own.
  • Intrinsic rewards are psychological rewards that employees get from doing meaningful work and performing it well.
    • They are intrinsic because they are internal to the work being done and achieving them largely depends on one’s own effort.
    • They are essential to sustained behavior change.
    • Can be created by allowing employees to do more self-managing and adding value to their work by innovating, problem-solving, and improvising.
    • When someone achieves an intrinsic reward, there is a positive emotional reaction.
    • Think of them as a pacemaker for a heart that is already beating. Their job is to keep the heart on pace and in rhythm.

The heart metaphor is great and pretty much accurate as the employees are the driving force for the business.

The reward system is a solution that is a double-edged sword. It is hard to always be objective and it is important to not have biases regarding who to reward and why. To make your life easier as a manager, you should set strict criteria for the quality of work to be reached. Defining clear goals will eliminate eventual misunderstandings and cheating attempts. Here, technologies, in the face of IoT automation, prove priceless.

Make your life easier by implementing technology in the rewarding process. Use IoT solutions to automate as much of it as possible. Why? Technology is unbiased. Instead of making your workers write reports and such, make a machine do it for them. On one hand, they won’t be burdened by it, on the other, you will be sure of the data accuracy. Use the automatically generated data to make fair decisions. We talked about having specific and clear goals. If they are clear enough, automation will be also possible and the combination of two will help you create a truly fair rewarding system.

How to achieve automation?

It is easy with LoRaWAN®. We covered pretty much all there is to know about it in our articles LoRaWAN® 101: All You Need To Know and LoRaWAN® vs. the world of IoT!. All you need is the right tools and RAKwireless can provide them for you!

Position a LoRaWAN gateway like WisGate Edge Lite 2 in your office, or even WisGate Edge Pro if you need a reliable outdoor solution and create your own network.

Implement end-devices like WisNode TrackIt or WisNode Button 4K in your workflow. Or use modular IoT like WisBlock to create custom sensors for different aspects of monitoring with the help of the full documentation and provided example scripts. Make automation easier and customized to your needs.
If you have the vision, we have the devices!

As observed, this process of technology being integrated into more and more aspects of life is not slowing down. On the contrary, it becomes more and more pronounced. Naturally, it will penetrate the work process even deeper. Innovations, automation, and smart systems will be implemented not only on the surface, like robotizing basic processes but on a much higher level, like in monitoring employee behavior.

So, to summarize a bit here is what to do and what to not do regarding the tracking of your employees.

At the end of the day, if the job is done sufficiently, you, as a boss, can’t ask for more. Not every employee lives for their job, and they shouldn’t. But now and then, there is an outstanding employee, someone passionate and ambitious and skilled, they should be rewarded. IoT will help you identify those individuals and not mistake them with the fakes that lurk around and imitate hard work.

Use the technology to your advantage, make people’s work experience better, and grow your business the smart way!