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Walking The Line Between Privacy and Efficiency

Not long ago, Jeffrey N. Shane, the former Under Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation, was quoted as saying, “The promise of GPS technology for increasing safety and security, reducing congestion, and improving efficiency is limitless. Quite simply, GPS has become the enabling technology for transportation.” For anyone involved in fleet management services, this comes as absolutely no surprise.

As an employer, GPS can be a huge improvement for a business. There are a number of reasons why more companies than ever are opting to utilize fleet management services. A few of them are:

  • If you’re responsible for mobile employees, there’s some degree of risk present when they work by themselves. But it’s been proven that the usage of GPS and tracking employee driving habits can identify and correct problems faster and more efficiently. Plus, if the employee runs into a problem, you know exactly where they are.
  • Fuel costs are trending upwards, which means your fleet needs to be as fuel efficient as possible. GPS provides a way to offer your people improved routes, which cuts down time spent in traffic.
  • The key to a successful business is happy customers. GPS is a boon to customer service since it allows you to view an employee’s route in real time, to find their precise location, and to redeploy them quickly .
  • Your employees act as representatives of your business. GPS systems let you know where they are, how well they are performing, and they provide a degree of accountability.

From an employer perspective, that’s all well and good. But what about from the perspective of one of your workers? Some of your people might have a concern about their whereabouts being tracked, and as a potential infringement upon their privacy. The fact is, that’s a perfectly legitimate question for a person to ask their employer. As their employer, there are a few things you can do to implement a smooth transition to a fleet management system while respecting the privacy of your people.

  • You’ve probably already done this, but take the time to find out what laws or regulations can affect your business when it comes to monitoring employees with GPS. Several states have different laws or statutes regarding when and how GPS can be used by employers.
  • Speaking of regulations, it’s becoming common for employers to provide a written notification to their people that they will be electronically monitored. That’s generally done prior to the installation of tracking systems. It’s not only the law, it’s also a good business practice.
  • But if you’re going to notify your people, it’s more important to get their assent. You obviously can’t install a GPS system in a worker’s private vehicle. However, if employees drive company-owned vehicles to and from home after being on the clock, you’ll need to devise a policy about tracking them on their ff-hours and make sure they are aware of the policy and consent to it.
  • Having said that, make sure everyone is aware of why, specifically, you have a professional need to track the movements of your employees. If you’re a fleet manager, it makes perfect sense. Just be sure to spell it out and reassure folks that you’re not putting anyone under surveillance, you’re simply trying to increase the efficiency of the company and make things better for everyone.