Is GPS Good Business or a Reason for Employees to Cry “Big Brother?”
While most people probably agree that a global positioning system (GPS) is a good tool to have personally, it’s sometimes a different story when employers install these trackers in fleet vehicles. But don’t be thwarted by rumblings about spying.Electronic trackers offer advantages that can put your business – and your employees –ahead of the curve, with more accurate billing practices, enhanced security for your workforce and your equipment, faster dispatch, and lower operational costs. All that adds up to a healthier bottom line, and a healthier bottom line means jobs are protected.Even so, some of your employees will think you are looking over their shoulders. What can you do? Highlight the positives for them.
- Billing accuracy. When billing depends on correctly recording the time spent on a job, that can be a problem if busy field workers forget those details and try to recreate them from memory later.Then you risk the ire of customers if they are overbilled, or lose revenue if they are underbilled. Plus your office staff may have to waste time tracking down those workers who fail to turn in completed timecards.
- Security. If your employees sometimes drive for miles in bad weather and uncertain road conditions your ability to pinpoint their locations could make the difference between a job well done and a disaster. A GPS may also help determine the source of theft and vandalism if outsiders tamper with your vehicles and equipment.
- Faster dispatch. When calls come in, knowing where your crew members are allows you to quickly dispatch the worker who is closest to the call location. It also reduces the chance drivers will get lost in unfamiliar areas and shortens the response time when customers are waiting. All that leads to improved customer satisfaction.
- Operational efficiency. Companies report that using a GPS to determine the best route saves fuel cost, and helps drivers avoid delays like traffic jams and road construction.
To illustrate, one Illinois towing company reports that his employees were suspicious when he outfitted each truck with a GPS. But soon the employer realized that, after installing the trackers, the fleet’s fuel usage dropped 20%, saving $1,500 a month. Combined with reduced wait times for customers, he estimated overall efficiency rose by 75%. When he began rewarding drivers by tying their bonuses to the fuel savings, the grumbling stopped. In fact, drivers worked even harder to be fuel efficient, which cut fuel costs even more, reduced wear and tear on the trucks, and increased safety. Of course, you generally have the right to track your vehicles and equipment, whether the drivers buy in to the positives or not. No federal law prevents you from using GPS in your fleet, but when it comes to tracking people, laws vary by state. The best policy is usually to let workers know there is a GPS installed in a fleet vehicle, and have them acknowledge in writing that they are aware of the tracking system.
The benefits outweigh the negatives, so employing GPS is just good business. Of course, it doesn’t hurt for employees to know that you could monitor where they go if you had to. Research has shown that behavior that is recorded tends to improve. Don’t let rumblings of “Big Brother” prevent you from good business.
NOTE: Information and guidance in this article is intended to provide accurate and helpful information on the subjects covered. It is not intended to provide a legal service for readers’ individual needs. For legal guidance in your specific situations, always consult with an attorney who is familiar with employment law and labor issues.
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