In every Pega Workforce Intelligence deployment, there comes a time when someone asks the question "should we tell the workers their activity is being monitored?". The best answer depends on many workplace factors that should be carefully considered by the organization’s management team prior to the start of data collection. This document will explore common concerns and options for if, when and how workers should be notified.
Pega Workforce Intelligence is a powerful analytics tool that provides insight into the activities and behaviors of digital workers as they complete computer-based tasks. Workforce Intelligence captures desktop activities such as application focus changes, keypress counts, and mouse interactions. It collects this data every time the desktop is utilized, from the first activity after login to the last activity until logout. By design, it operates silently in the background without disrupting normal process execution and does not alert the worker to its presence. Because of its stealth nature, informing workers that Workforce Intelligence is activated might lead to privacy concerns and generate a negative perception of the motivations behind capturing activity data. The decision to not notify workers may help avoid negative perceptions but can result in increased resentment and distrust if discovered. Organizations typically make this decision based on three primary criteria: Privacy Expectations, Data Propagation, and Behavioral Targets.
The authority to monitor electronic devices and the expectation of privacy on those devices is regulated by laws, contracts, and policies. Depending on the country and state in which a worker resides, there might be legal requirements to inform them that Workforce Intelligence is capturing their activity. Unionized workers are typically covered by contractual agreements that require notification of any monitoring. Human Resource departments have their own corporate policies for notification and might be more specific than any other requirements. Before the start of any data capture, confirm compliance with all sources of regulation. Depending on these regulations, operation without notification might not be an option.
The job responsibilities of a worker can also impact privacy expectations. In some areas of an organization, performance monitoring might already be a common practice, such as in a contact center. These workers are fully aware that their activities are constantly recorded, monitored, and tracked. They usually perceive Workforce Intelligence as just another tool for measurement and accept without issue. However, back-office and work-from-home (WFH) workers might not have experienced performance monitoring before and are more likely to perceive Workforce Intelligence as an intrusion into their daily activity. Anticipation of worker perception is a major consideration in determining the best approach to notification.
Workforce Intelligence has been designed as a process improvement tool and is very efficient at identifying complexity, friction, and waste in workflows. The intent is to improve the worker experience by highlighting areas of inefficiency within processes so that corrective solutions can be designed and implemented. In the process of identifying areas of opportunity, Workforce Intelligence highlights both productive and non-productive worker behaviors. Productive behaviors can be used as a coaching model for others to follow. Non-productive and undesirable behaviors can reflect poorly on individual workers, so the scope of access to this sensitive data and how it will be shared within an organization will have a direct impact on the notification decision. If Workforce Intelligence data is used solely for process measurement or as an automation finder with limited data exposure, worker notification might not be essential. However, if the data is propagated within an organization to support coaching or shared directly with supervisors or management, it will be obvious to the workforce that a monitoring tool has been deployed.
Scientific research has shown that a worker’s behavior will change if they are aware of being watched (see Hawthorne Effect). Often, the change is positive and results in better overall performance. However, if it’s critical to measurement accuracy that the targeted behavior be unaltered by awareness, this would be a major consideration in worker notification. These situations are rare and often temporary but do occur in some organizations. Notifying the worker of Workforce Intelligence would eliminate the ability to capture natural, unbiased behaviors.
To mitigate ‘spying’ concerns and other negative perceptions, transparency of intentions and explanation of expected outcomes is critical. Clear communication around what desktop data is being collected (and what is not collected), who will have access to the data, and how the data will be used to improve the worker experience has proven to be the best approach to gain acceptance and engagement. Introduction to the WFI tool works best in smaller groups where individuals are encouraged to ask clarifying questions. They need to be reassured that no personal data is being captured and that the purpose of measuring activity is to find ways to improve their work experience.
Not Notifying Workers
If after considering the factors described above, it is determined that notification is not warranted or desired, there are steps that can be taken to help reduce the possibility of discovery. By default, the active Pega Workforce Intelligence Runtime application will appear in the taskbar tray as a blue robot icon. The Runtime configuration file can be modified to remove the icon from the tray. The Runtime cannot be hidden in the Task Manager display, but workers do not typically have access to this view. The configuration file also controls pop-up interactions on the worker desktop. The default configuration has pop-ups enabled, so that setting should be disabled prior to deployment.
Organizations must decide if their workers should be aware of the presence of Workforce Intelligence activity capture software. In most deployments, the workforce is notified and encouraged to engage with the process to improve their overall experience. The data collected is most often used to eliminate complexity, friction and waste, but is also used to identify and share workflow best practices across teams and departments.