EY, one of the Big Four firms, has initiated the monitoring of office attendance for its UK employees using swipe card entry data.
The move comes as the company grapples with enforcing its hybrid working guidelines, and some staff members reportedly flout the established policies.
Anonymised “turnstile access” data has been shared at senior levels within the firm, revealing the frequency of staff attendance at its offices, as disclosed by individuals familiar with the matter to the Financial Times.
The statistics are expected to serve as a positive reinforcement tool, referred to as a “carrot rather than a stick,” to encourage teams to align with EY’s hybrid working guidelines.
According to insiders, a significant portion of some teams is failing to meet the company’s policy, which requires employees to be in the office at least two days a week.
What about attendance issues?
This development sheds light on the challenges large employers face in managing office attendance rates, especially after the widespread adoption of hybrid working arrangements amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Several major corporations, including Bank of America and Citigroup, have taken steps to address attendance issues, with the former sending “letters of education” to non-compliant employees.
In the UK, Citigroup has informed its employees about plans to verify office attendance of at least three days a week. Similarly, Lloyds Banking Group and HSBC UK have implemented stricter flexible working policies.
Notably, some company leaders, echoing sentiments from EY’s rival PwC, have emphasised the importance of staff returning to the office. In a survey conducted by KPMG in October, over 80 percent of company bosses expressed the likelihood of rewarding employees who adhere to in-office work with better assignments, pay raises, or promotions.
“Material updates” have been made
Sources indicate that at EY, around 21,000 employees in the UK were shown analysis correlating office attendance with mid-year performance ratings. The firm made “material updates” to its personnel privacy notice in October, signalling changes to the collection and processing of swipe card entry data for overseeing flexible work arrangements and working locations.
EY declined to comment on the specifics of the collection or use of swipe card data. It was emphasised that the company does not have a firm-wide policy concerning the utilisation of such data to influence workplace attendance rates.
In a separate development, EY is reportedly continuing staff layoffs in the UK, with at least 64 employees being notified of potential redundancy this month. This follows last year’s cuts, which amounted to a total of 300 positions. The firm stated, “We continually assess the resourcing needs of our business, and, in some parts of the organisation, we are consulting on proposals to align current resourcing requirements with market demand.”
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.