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Some financial firms are using ID-card swipe data to monitor in-office attendance

JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs are monitoring employee attendance through ID-card swipes, drawing criticism from employees.
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· 3 min read

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Most employees are dragging their feet back to the office, and those who have jobs that can be done remotely largely want to keep working remotely at least part of the time, according to a Pew survey conducted in January. Meanwhile, a survey of managers conducted by GoodHire in March found that 60% of managers in the US believe their company will force workers to return to the office full-time in “the near future.”

According to Business Insider, companies like JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs have started monitoring employee ID-card swipes to track who’s going into the office and providing that attendance data to managers. The New York Times notes that tracking employees entering an office was common practice at some companies before the pandemic, but using that information to enforce attendance is new, and some workplace experts say this monitoring strategy has the potential to damage company culture.

Tracking. Goldman Sachs started tracking who’s going into the company’s New York office in March, according to the New York Post. HR Brew viewed one anonymous comment on the social media app Blind, by someone claiming to be a Goldman Sachs employee, that read: “Thanks to RTO, managers are tracking daily attendance, leadership setting up calls with remote folks asking them for an ultimate date so that they can come to the office for forced collaboration.”

Spokespersons for JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs declined to comment for this story.

Backlash. Nicholas Bloom, a professor of economics at Stanford University, believes these monitoring practices won’t last. “You’re telling employees to do something they think is asinine,” he told HR Brew. “So you’re telling them to do something that they don’t think is helping their job or helping their performance. So they don’t want to do it. As a result, they’re not doing it and so you have to force them. Generally, if you have to force somebody to do something, it’s not in their interest.”

Big picture. Bloom said he believes that if employees face consequences such as reduced bonuses based on attendance, workers will quit. He predicts around half of employees will be okay with returning five days a week, but the other half will “find it irritating, pointless, painful, and a large number of them will just quit.”

Bloom acknowledged that HR departments are in a tough position when it comes to monitoring and enforcing RTO policies. “Either [HR is] going to weaken their authority or face a mass exodus of employees, particularly diversity employees, who are the people that in our data we see on average work from home more than others,” Bloom said. “Neither is a very pleasant outcome.”—KP

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HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

HR Brew keeps you effective in the fast-changing business environment.