How to spot unproductive behaviors your employees may be unaware of

Remote working and employee autonomy isn’t just a way of making your employees feel more in charge of their professional lives. It’s also a great tactic for your business, as the more engaged your staff are the better they’ll work.

But no autonomy can go unchecked for the simple fact that there are things we do without realizing it that aren’t necessarily the best way of operating. The result of which can be behaviors that are unproductive at best and unsafe at worst. 

This is why you need to look out for these things, and it’s why I’ll show you how to spot generally unproductive behaviors, hazardous attitudes, inefficient actions, and unsafe driving.

Each example is something that can help your business (pending on the precise nature of its work), so long as you implement them in the right way. 

Use anonymous feedback to show unproductive behaviors 

I don’t want your company to be a surveillance-driven operation. You should trust your employees to work at their best and giving this respect will lead them to be more engaged. 

But there isn’t a company around that doesn’t monitor its staff at all. One of the key reasons for this is that we all have blind spots and one of these is our own behavior. A great way of remedying this is to ask your employees to provide anonymous feedback on each other.

I know what you’re thinking — this is surveillance at its most pervasive. I understand your reservations but it can actually help people to be more autonomous, so long as you focus the feedback on how people can improve and not what they’re doing wrong. 

There are lots of great survey tools out there and Google Forms is one of the best. It’s completely free to use and has some really helpful features: 

  • Checkboxes 
  • Multiple-choice questions
  • Dropdowns 
Credit: Google Workspace

It’s a great option for a company that cares enough about its employees to show them how to improve their behaviors, so they can be more productive and (ultimately) earn greater autonomy. Try it out today, but make sure you focus the feedback form on leading to a positive outcome.

Use incident reporting apps to show hazardous workplaces 

I’m not here to ask you to micromanage your business’ workplace(s). That’s not conducive to an environment where people can work freely and independently without worrying if their keyboard is in the right place. 

But all companies have a responsibility to look after their employees. And health must come first on both a personal and professional level. The former because you have a moral duty and the latter because you have a legal obligation.

One of the key examples of this is on-site work that uses heavy machinery and you can use incident reporting apps to show if there are any potential hazards. 

Incident reporting apps are actually a great example of employee empowerment. The reason for this is you give workers the power to make their workplaces safer. They do this by logging an incident that could lead to a hazard, so you can then put a solution in place. 

These issues will often arise through nothing more than training gaps (people doing the wrong thing without knowing it). This means it’s a non-confrontational way of making employees aware of their unproductive (you can’t work on a site if it’s shut down due to safety issues) behaviors. Why? Because you can run a general training program, rather than picking on specific individuals. 

There are some brilliant incident reporting apps and SafetyCulture is one of the finest. It’s free of charge for up to 100 employees and allows you to do all these things: 

  • Carry out inspections
  • Flag any issues
  • Resolve actions
Credit: SafetyCulture

It’s a brilliant tool for a business that values its staff enough to give them the tools to change the behavior of their colleagues for the better, so everyone is working towards keeping the workplace safer. Check it out now, but keep in mind that if you use it you should never single out individual employees who need safety training. 

Use telematics software to highlight unsafe driving habits

I’d never make the case for excessively controlling how your employees behave when they’re on company time, let alone suggest you should start influencing their private lives. 

But there are some work behaviors that cross over into what happens outside of the workplace. A perfect example of this is how they behave when they’re on the road, as lots of people use vehicles for work travel. Telematics software is the ideal way of highlighting if your workers are behaving unproductively and even unsafely when they’re at the wheel. 

Telematics software is a way of tracking how people behave when they’re driving. The tech records three specific behaviors: speed, braking, and corner taking. These are all crucial components of driving safety — if you drive too fast then there’s a real risk you’ll have an accident. These driving behaviors are also not very productive because they put greater strain on vehicles and that means you need to repair/replace them sooner than you should need to. 

Your employees are probably completely unaware they’re doing any of these things unsafely. Why? Because the simple fact they’re doing it suggests that they think their behavior is fine. Using the data from telematics reports is an intrusive way of highlighting this to them but the simple fact is that it could prevent them from having an accident, which could be life-changing/ending for your staff or your business. 

There are plenty of superb examples of telematics tracking software and iCompario is a great way of adding it to your business. You can include telematics with a fuel card (a way of paying for gas) and it includes the following handy features:  

  • Journey playback 
  • Real-time tracking 
  • Journey history
Credit: iCompario

While using telematics software to look after your workers by highlighting behaviors that are both unproductive and unsafe is a good thing, it’s something that could impinge on their autonomy if you don’t handle it properly. So, when you do try this make sure the focus is on keeping them safe from accidents, not on protecting your vehicles. 

Final thoughts 

There’s no doubt that anonymous feedback, incident reporting apps, and telematics software are great ways of spotting unproductive (even unsafe) behaviors your employees might be unaware of. 

But there’s also no doubt that each of these things can undermine the autonomy of your workers if you use them incorrectly. And that’s something that could entrench these behaviors.

So, try these methods of spotting unproductive behaviors but make sure you do so in the right way. 

About the author

Rodney Laws, Ecommerce Consultant at Ecommerce Platforms

“Rodney Laws is an ecommerce expert with over a decade of experience in building online businesses. He’s worked with the biggest platforms in the world, making him the perfect person to offer advice on which platforms to build your website with. Check out his reviews on and you’ll find practical tips that you can use to build the best online store for your business. Connect with him on Twitter @EcomPlatformsio.