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GPS obsessed

6 December 2014

GPS Tracking and Employee Accountability

by Greg Bartlett / guest author

Employer surveillance of company employees has long been a source of debate in the corporate community. Advances in technology provide many options for employer monitoring, but some types may be a violation of employee privacy, or have other inherent disadvantages. How do you balance privacy rights with the company’s need to make sure employees are behaving ethically on the job? What is acceptable and legal, and what crosses the line?

While questions of legality still loom over e-mail, recorders, cameras, and phones surveillance, GPS tracking devices are generally considered legal and reasonable (read about a case of GPS tracking and what the administrative law judge decided). This type of device might be particularly useful to companies or small businesses that require employees to make deliveries or trips without managerial supervision. While honesty is expected in employees in every type of work, sometimes the temptations inherent in delivery or travel style jobs may be too strong for even your best employees.

Statistics show that over the past three years, 33% of employees admit to stealing from the company, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce blames 30% of failures in business on theft by employees. There is an old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—and one of the best ways to prevent dishonesty in traveling/delivering employees is to implement a GPS tracking device in the company vehicles. This is also a way to prevent uncomfortable confrontations and loss of profits in your business. Simply knowing that this device is present may help employees to think twice about “that one little errand only a little bit out of the way,” and may help keep them honest about travel log reports.

There are two types of GPS systems—active and passive. Both systems utilize satellites that orbit in outer space. Generally, groupings of three of these satellites compile data about the latitude and longitude of the individual/vehicle/object wearing the receiver. An active GPS tracking system allows you to download information to the internet or a mobile device for constant surveillance. A passive GPS tracking device is more of a record of what occurred (where the vehicle went, where it stopped, etc.). Depending on the way your company operates, either system would provide valuable accountability and prevention for employee theft whether it is a pizza delivery route or delivering more valuable products.

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