The Tug of War Between Employers and Employees for Workplace Safety

February 21, 2020 | Blog

Mobile devices – smartphones, tablets, notebooks and the countless apps accessible through them – are ingrained in our everyday lives, from the moment we wake up and swipe through the morning news to the time we power down and set our alarms each evening. This mobile mindset has transformed how we work, socialize, seek information and engage with our surroundings. It has also created a challenging dynamic between employers and their employees.

No matter the industry, today’s workplaces are feeling the effects and employers are struggling to manage their employees’ mobile habits. According to our August 2019 study conducted by Forrester Consulting, 65% of employers say making employees safer through mobile is a high priority, as 48% of employees admit to using their mobile devices while driving or operating machinery. That’s right, almost half of the employees performing high-risk tasks are distracted by their devices while doing so. The safety, productivity and liability issues this presents for a company can’t be ignored.

While most companies do have mobile device policies in place to prevent this kind of activity, they’re falling short. If a policy is too overbearing, renders an employee’s device useless on the job, or is perceived to infringe on their privacy, employees are likely to push back, ignore it or find workarounds. This hinders workplace morale and doesn’t remedy the distraction.

The same Forrester study found that most decision-makers admit current policies don’t meet their safety or productivity needs, and 82% say their organizations have experienced negative business consequences because of it — from increased safety concerns to growing employee dissatisfaction and turnover. This puts company leaders in a tough spot. They’re spending valuable time and resources to implement mobile device policies that aren’t enforceable, aren’t empowering employees, and aren’t attacking the root of the problem.

It’s no argument that mobile innovations have enhanced the way we communicate, connect and perform, but with these advancements come unique challenges. To better understand the ‘tug of war’ phenomenon that’s happening across today’s workplaces, let’s look at a few more findings from the Forrester study:

  • 45% of organizations actively restrict mobile device usage in unsafe environments, but 40% of employees admit they fail to follow these usage policies.
  • 56% of employers report that increased productivity is their top need from a mobile device management solution, as 68% of employees say their mobile device usage distracts them from doing their most important work.

It’s becoming increasingly clearer that to combat the effects of mobile device distraction at work, banning the usage of these devices altogether isn’t the answer. The right MDM policy should empower and work with employees, not against them. In fact, the same technologies that impact safety and productivity can be catalysts in releasing their full potential and creating a smarter workplace. In the right context, mobile devices are a powerful enterprise tool for enabling employees to access necessary information, serving customers and driving revenue – employers just need to strike an effective balance.

To efficiently and consistently manage employee’s mobile device usage on the job, employers need a solution that can be seamlessly integrated into an existing mobile device policy and that operates contextually –  who’s using mobile, where, and for what purpose should guide what mobile capabilities are available at a given time. CMDM (Contextual Mobile Device Management) checks these boxes.

By managing the functionality of mobile devices in contextual “zones,” CMDM confirms acceptable use within a work environment through an app on an employee’s device, beacons placed throughout risk settings and a management console. The contextual AI deployed through CMDM can sense when an employee is driving, using heavy equipment, operating large machinery or in a highly sensitive meeting. This allows organizations to proactively eliminate liabilities while improving employee productivity, engagement, and safety.

Contextual triggers can also help companies meet their business goals. In the same study, the majority of decision-makers say enforcing mobile use policies based on context helps protect company assets and increases business efficiency. And, contrary to popular belief, the majority of workers are okay with this kind of mobile device management too. Roughly two-thirds of workers agree that businesses should be able to manage their mobile devices for the sake of safety, focus, and productivity.

The mobile habits of today’s employees may not match up with the expectations of company leaders, but the ability and sentiment are there. With the right solution, both employers and employees can finally drop the rope.

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