Whether your workforce is remote, hybrid or office-first, employee monitoring is an empowering way to increase workforce productivity by providing greater insight into how employees are working, not just when they are working.
Traditional employee monitoring has historically been associated with surveillance and surveillance, which can raise understandable concerns from both employees and companies.
Progressive organizations understand that employee monitoring is only a collection method for highly effective productivity indicators that contribute to productivity, efficiency and employee engagement. When used correctly and with transparency, employee monitoring can shed light on people, processes and technology.
In this article, we'll cover the basics of employee monitoring and give you actionable tips for applying and leveraging collected data to create a more transparent workplace.
Choose where to start:
What is Employee Monitoring?
Employee Monitoring is an activity monitoring method used by businesses for a variety of reasons: to help prevent and detect costly data breaches, increase employee engagement, and optimize inefficient workflows. Recently, modern employee monitoring tools have shown greater potential for comprehensive workforce analytics and employee productivity coaching opportunities. These modern tools enable businesses to optimize employee performance, increase employee engagement and reduce process efficiency. Organizations can increase workforce productivity and become more profitable by monitoring and analyzing employee work behavior.
Employee tracking and workforce activity data collected through this method can be analyzed to find trends, patterns, and correlations across teams, groups, and departments to gain insight into business processes and how to improve them. This activity data includes application usage, time spent on unproductive tasks, and what time of day each worker is most productive. Employee monitoring puts workforce activity data in context by giving companies an overall picture of how work is being done inside and outside the office, and provides insights to increase personal, team and organizational productivity for employers and employees alike.
By the time you finish reading this guide, you will be able to determine if employee monitoring is right for your team, which system to choose and how to implement it in your office.
Employee Monitoring Types
Historical methods of employee tracking
The change in technology has offered a wide variety of options for monitoring employee activities. Just 10 years ago, most employee monitoring should have been done locally in the office. How times have changed. With this change in the way work is done and done, companies now have to rethink how and why employee monitoring is implemented and used. We'll briefly cover some of the historical types of employee tracking and jump into a more modern approach.
Internet and Email
These are the two main pillars of employee studies and thus employee monitoring.
We know that as long as the internet is used appropriately and efficiently, it is necessary for productivity. The aim is to discover how the internet is used and to see if there is a way to improve its use by the team.
While other means of communication may lead to reduced email use, understanding email communication and usage can still help with workforce productivity and efficiency.
Similar to internet monitoring, some of these programs allow employers to monitor desktop application usage. The collected data can be presented in incredibly detailed reports, highlighting how much time people spend working productively, when the computer is inactive, and which apps are getting the most use.
Keylogging or keystroke logging is a process that sequentially records the keys that the user types on the keyboard. These programs can also capture screenshots when triggered by predefined keywords.
There are some major drawbacks to keystroke logging though. Some see this as violating workplace privacy.
It is also notorious for its malicious use. MonitUp and modern employee monitoring tools do not include keylogging as it raises employee privacy concerns. The modern approach to employee monitoring values open communication and a transparent workforce productivity strategy, so keylogging has no real value.
You know the message that gave you trouble when you called customer support for the router? "This call can be recorded for quality and educational purposes." By taking part in that call, congratulations, you were an active party in employee phone monitoring! This is a way for a company to check its quality assurance and confirm that its employees are providing you with exceptional customer service.
With GPS Tracking, a company car is tracked while in use. It can be helpful for delivery, courier and postal companies to track vehicles, helping drivers travel the most efficient routes. It can also be used for delivery status confirmation, missing feature recovery, and general security.
Advantages of Employee Monitoring
Advantages of Employee Monitoring
Now when properly implemented, an employee monitoring system:
- Enables employers to analyze business processes
- Builds a more engaged team
- Saves money on employee retention
- Provides data transparency
- Protects against data loss
Insights from the data collected will help you build a more efficient team by highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of your employees. Where people struggle and where they shine gives the power to delegate tasks more efficiently. Matching your team members' strengths and skills to the right job is incredibly vital and ensures the team produces their best work!
Recognizing weaknesses in team members is just as important. Employee monitoring systems that focus on behavioral metrics help you identify where team members need extra training or coaching. You may find that it takes an unusually long time for someone to finish a project. Check them out. See if you understand how to use their tool and if they don't, set up a training session. Investing in the career development of your employees is one way to increase engagement and happiness for the team.
Discover Unrealized Revenue from a Fully Engaged Team
It is widely known that about 70% of Americans in the workforce are not fully engaged in their jobs. 40% of Americans are never engaged. Because employee engagement is such a big issue, companies need tools to help them identify who to opt out, why they left, how much it hurt their company, and how they can help.
Strategic growth manager Shaley McKeever calls active disengagement the "silent killer" in her Recruiter.com article. Sound scary? It must be! He explains that not only is an actively separated worker unhappy and unable to perform their jobs properly, they also "reveal their unhappiness" and by doing so "undermine what their engaged coworkers have accomplished."
Unfortunately, when workers leave, they often don't care about the company's goals or success. They just come to get paid. With 67% of the worldwide workforce disconnected, can you guess how much employers lose each year in the American economy? If you estimated 350 billion dollars, you would be right!
Behavior analytics will show who on the team to opt out or go in that direction. For example, the data will show how much time employees spend on inefficient practices. Take this information and view it in a graph over time and you'll see whose productivity has increased, decreased or stayed the same. With this information, you can contact the team member if needed. Take a look at what's going on and see how you can help.
American companies lose $650 billion a year from inefficient workers.
You can reduce this loss by implementing workforce analytics and productivity monitoring program. Successful, data-driven companies use the analytics that monitoring software gives them to increase productivity, revenue, sales, employee retention, happiness and efficiency.
Take the restaurant industry as an example. A study by MIT found that when restaurants started watching employees, revenue increased by 7%. What's the reason? "As far as we can tell, performance improved as people started doing their jobs better," says research scientist Andrew McAfee.
Also, the types of data collected with employee monitoring software enable you to make more informed business decisions. You may find that there are too many people assigned to a task. Why not make better use of time and company resources by assigning a few of them a new project? Or find out which software (the one you pay for) doesn't see much use. Get rid of the things you don't use and stop wasting money.
Safety and Security
Data breaches and cybersecurity should always be a concern for businesses. Hackers are super smart! Every day they invent new ways to access data.
Large organizations are particularly vulnerable to breaches. What matters is the scale of organizations and the increased likelihood of human error leading to hacks such as accidentally opening phishing emails. Almost half of America's names, social security numbers, dates of birth, home addresses, and driver's license numbers were stolen from consumer credit reporting agency Equifax.
Sometimes the threat is internal. After leaving a company, 87% of them took their company information and documents with them.
Monitoring employees in various forms gives supervisors a clear view of what people are doing and when. And in case of any breach or legal trouble, data logs act as your company's "black box". Your task of discovering the "who, what, when and where" of the event becomes a little easier.
Disadvantages of Employee Monitoring and How to Handle Them
Wow! There are loads of amazing benefits! What's stopping you from starting now? You may have to deal with a perception problem. In analyzing your employees' activities, your goal should be to create a company culture where everyone can do their best and work harmoniously as a team, not spying on them. However, your team may not see it that way at first, and it could create a few downsides.
Activity tracking comes with privacy concerns. People use work computers for personal reasons and want to keep their activities private. Also, people don't like the idea of someone 'watching their every move'. Bloodcurdling!
Reassuring your employees that their privacy is paramount. You are not watching them. You are dividing the data. You are not interested in personal information such as passwords, driver's license, passports and social security numbers.
One issue people have with tracking is the trust factor. If they perceive that what you are doing is spying, they may have feelings of anger and dissatisfaction and turn to the breakup. It's pretty unreasonable to their goals.
You can gain employee support by showing that you're watching for the right reasons. Don't follow just to watch and don't be invasive without good reason. The best practice is to be transparent, so emphasize to your team that the monitoring system is only used as an analytical tool.
Increased Stress Level
Knowing that their activities are being monitored, a person may instinctively work harder, take fewer breaks, and worry about their productivity. All of this can lead to an increase in stress levels for your team and a drop in both morale and employee turnover - the opposite of what you're trying to achieve!
You can help alleviate these concerns if you take steps to explain the types of data you collect and why. Follow your plans to use the software for analytics-related purposes only.
Don't abuse your tools like the manager described in an article from Psychology Today. This boss would repeatedly send a message to an inefficient data processor. The note read, "You work less than the person next to you."
There is a lot of murkiness around the legality of monitoring activities. One of the reasons is that there are very different laws about what is allowed and what is not. We'll cover this more in the section below, but for now, know that the legality of employee tracking depends entirely on where you care.
This does not mean that such data collection is out of the question. There are ways to analyze daily activities in accordance with your local laws.
Legal Considerations for Employee Monitoring
Legal Considerations for Employee Monitoring
- What are the rules governing monitoring in the workplace?
- When is it appropriate to watch? What is the difference between this country?
- What should you do before watching?
Is Employee Monitoring Legal?
It's time to address the elephant in the room. There are several misconceptions about the legality of data collection that can deviate you from this. Is employee monitoring legal?
In short, yes! Workplace laws state that you can be digitally monitored by your workplace. This means, for example, that they can read what your emails say on their server. As of now, the only restriction includes phone calls. It is illegal for an employer to monitor an employee's personal phone calls without that employee knowing and not allowing. For another activity, permission is not required by the employee if he or she is using company-owned equipment.
But some states have taken a step towards privacy. In Connecticut and Delaware, employers must notify employees before monitoring them. Before installing software, be sure to check state-specific laws.
The law may be different in your country. European Union countries believe in the right to privacy at work. Employers need to be more explicit when implementing activity tracking. All persons in the EU must consent to the collection of personal data and be informed of how and why it is collected. Check your country's laws just in case.
To achieve good results and foster a culture of trust, we recommend that you explain to your employees that you plan to install the software and how it will be used. They will be aware of the types of data collected, when and for what reasons. The more transparency there is, the less likely you are to have to deal with legal issues.
Is it right for me?
Before choosing the best employee monitoring software for your team, you need to be absolutely sure that it is the right thing for you. Such software can be used for all the wrong reasons that totally misses the point. It's pretty easy to determine if you should take the next step, though.
Just consider the following:
What are my goals?
Consider your business goals. Write with space for notes. Here we will help you with some possibilities.
- Cut Expenses
- Improve Customer Service
- Better Secure Data
- Employee Hold
- Reposition Office
- Be More Efficient
- Apply More Legal Protection
- Get Better at Micro Management
Will Employee Monitoring Software help me achieve these goals?
Take a look at what you wrote, then write about how activity tracking can help.
- Cut expenses - Find out what software is not used and get rid of it.
- Improve Customer Service – See the workflow for agents and analyze their efficiency. Speeds up response times.
- Secure Data Better – Receive alerts of ongoing data breaches using alarms. Reorganize sensitive information with DLP.
- Employee Retention – See which employees are becoming increasingly disabled and find out why with productivity reports. Show your team that you want to keep them on the team and ask how you can help them feel more valued.
- Reposition Office – Probably a more indirect result. Perhaps by reducing expenses, you can change and measure whether this impacts your team's productivity.
- Be More Efficient – Take a look at your business process. Remove employees from unnecessary projects and assign them to new projects.
- Apply More Legal Protection - With a virtual black box of all computer activity, you will have a data trail to investigate and provide in a court setting.
- Get Better at Micro Management – Hmm. Is that your aim? You can technically use Employee Monitoring software to achieve this goal, but is it the right goal to have?
Is it valuable to me to adopt Behavior Analysis Software?
This is very easy. What is the value of improved customer service? How about secure data? Better efficiency? More legal protection?
Compare the value of achieving your goals with the potential cost of software. In most software, it makes sense to monitor activities at work. But ultimately, it's up to you to weigh the pros and cons.
Are Businesses Like Me Reaching Their Goals with Employee Monitoring Software?
Employee monitoring isn't about auditing, it's about data.
At the time of writing, the tools that collect this data are a $200 million industry and an evolving tool. Over the next few years, we will see more companies investing in software and other solutions that track employee activity.
Insurance companies, colleges, design firms, schools, and large international companies are just a few examples of teams that choose to analyze behavior. Even restaurants use a form of software that monitors waitstaff by monitoring every related activity. Companies of all types successfully improve their business process from metrics collected by employee monitoring software.
How to Choose the Best Employee Monitoring Software?
OK! You weighed the pros and cons and decided that you can achieve your goals with activity tracking software! We will speak frankly; There are many different types of employee monitoring software. Making a decision can be very difficult! Let's make it a little easier.
Employee Monitoring Checklist Development
Before you spend too much time shopping, you can start by developing a checklist of features your company needs.
You may or may not need features such as:
- Website blocking
- real-time monitoring
- Full access to SQL data
- Screenshot capture and export
- USB usage warnings
- Data Leakage Prevention
- keystroke log
- Time spent on activities
- Ability to categorize activities as productive or unproductive
Also, an important consideration is the way the system works. Most can be put into two categories: User Login and Always On/Scheduled. Some workforce monitoring software gives the employee control to keep track of each task. They use an app to record when they start, stop or pause the project. All data collection is done during this period only.
Others collect data as long as the computer is in use, giving employees the freedom to work without having to think about logging.
Often times, there is an option to schedule this recording by an administrator. Useful if you only want to watch during business hours. The good thing about this type of monitoring is that it provides an unbiased dataset. Without user input, you only have facts that cannot be manipulated.
Once you've narrowed down which features are most important to you, you can start comparing which service offers those features and which one will best meet your needs.
Now is the time to really trim fat. These three informative questions are great for both small and enterprise businesses to ask when choosing the right behavioral analytics system.
How long can I avail?
Time to see data
Consider the time from installation to receiving reliable data ready for analysis. How long does your upload take on your network? Do results start flowing to the analytics dashboard after uploading, or is there a delay?
Customization is great, but setting up all your accounts and users can be a daunting and lengthy task if there aren't enough default settings to begin with! Plan accordingly for this period.
Are experts needed?
The software may require an expert not on your team. You may need someone to maintain the software or a data analyst to interpret your results. The time factor for finding the right person or training a team member on the appropriate skills.
Like most new tools, there will be a bit of a learning curve for most users initially. Some training may be required on all the features you can use. It may take some time before you realize the full potential of your software.
What are its limitations?
Scalability is the software's ability to grow with your business. It must be able to handle high volumes, fluctuations in activity and increased number of seats or users. It should also process quickly and reliably store large amounts of data, regardless of the number of members on your team. If you're an e-commerce company that needs to measure productivity on Cyber Monday, you don't want your employee tracking software to fail!
Size, Speed and Storage
Check and see how the software processes data, which servers it uses, where the data is stored, how much storage there is, and if there are any limitations on the volume of raw data that can be processed. If you are not fully familiar with the ups and downs of data processing, speak to a representative of the company. Explain your needs and see if their system can hold up!
Sure, it may have all the features in your checklist, but can you change, modify, delete or add them? Some businesses choose to mark social media sites as unproductive. However, if your company relies heavily on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for your marketing, you may need to classify these sites as productive so that you can account for this data when analyzing performance. Every company is different. One size doesn't fit all. Customization is key to making the software work for you.
Play well with others
Employee monitoring software is known to have complications with some anti-virus software. Prevent headache. Ask a sales manager if there are any known complications with your antivirus.
With the right program combinations, the efficiency of the employee monitoring system can be increased exponentially! Integrations with software allow many applications to be automated or to talk to other applications. Find out if the system you are considering has this ability to make your life easier.
Preparing for Success
Have you decided on the best employee monitoring software for your team? Congratulations! You have real potential to operate your business to achieve the goals you set! You're not ready to go yet. There are a few more points to hit, all of which should be part of your action plan. We'll start with your motivation to stay with us throughout this long guide: Your team!
Involve Your Team
In the US it may be legal to collect data about employees at work (with the exception of a few states) without knowing it, but because you can, you must. In fact, we recommend calling a meeting to tell your employees that you will be implementing a monitoring software. Here are the points you should hit:
- What's that?
- How is it working?
- Address privacy concerns (emphasize that you're not spying)
- Why it is necessary?
- Company Benefits
- Individual Benefits
Up to this point we have not detailed the direct benefits for the employee, but quite a few! Your mind is probably spinning with a few ideas, but feel free to steal some of ours for your meeting:
- Everyone is measured equally with the same data. Because data are not lies, performance is supported by facts, not favoritism.
- Throughout the data analysis process, workloads are the best way to work. will be shared more equally.
- Your hard work will not go unnoticed. There are many opportunities to be recognized for your efforts!
- Reports are a tool for coaching and training. The growth areas necessary for career development become clear.
- Business turns into a game. Increasing your productivity week after week is a friendly contest against your background!
After reviewing these points, it's open time for questions. Let's see what everyone thinks. Expect people to worry about their privacy or the stress of being tracked in the first place. It is natural to have these feelings. If you've explained your purpose and the benefits of team behavior analytics well, it shouldn't be too hard to put everyone at ease.
If there is still some unease, be sure to follow the tips below to prove your intentions are legit.
Be a Reasonable Manager
Be careful when choosing which websites to block and block in moderation. YouTube may be the first site to consider throttling, but think about it. YouTube has many helpful tutorials that can build skills for your team. Block and filter websites rightfully, but don't overdo it. Also, never use your employee monitoring tool to punish employees.
Be Flexible With Expectations
Don't expect every person to work eight hours straight. Do you have this stamina? People need a break! The key to ethical employee monitoring is to remember that people are people. You get distracted and take breaks, don't punish people for keeping their sanity intact. You stressed that employees need breaks and it's perfectly fine to take reasonable breaks when they need it. Set limits but allow flexibility for some personal use. Maintaining the right work/life balance is essential for the happiness of your team.
Don't be creepy.
This guide has emphasized many times that activity monitoring is not a tool to be used for spying, so don't do it! You watch a person's every move. If you can name Stephanie's Facebook friends because you've viewed their screenshots, you've gone too far! Again, you need to understand that this tool is strictly for controlling productivity and improving company performance.
With the amount of customization available in some software, you have the flexibility to tailor your tools to your needs. Remember that one size does not fit all, so some applications and tasks that a company may find inefficient are a necessity for doing business. Customize how the software responds to the use of these applications. If it's a feature, set up watch schedules that include lunch breaks and not after office hours. Take a look at all you can do and make your software work best for your team.
Create an Official Policy
If you involve your team in the implementation as we suggest, it makes everyone involved feel even more comfortable having a policy that puts everything in writing. To make your job easier, summarize what you covered in your launch meeting! Cover the software you use, what it does, your intentions for using it, and why it's essential for career advancement and company growth.
- Put it out in everyday language. No need to sound like a legal expert.
- Don't use language that makes you look like a shady government agency.
- Be open. Avoid deceiving people knowingly or unknowingly.
- Consider what to do if an employee has questions or concerns.
- Include a place for signature to show that they understand and accept the terms.
- Do this before you start using the software!
Adopting employee monitoring software can be stressful for employees at first. Try to see things from their perspective and make yourself ready and willing to hear about their concerns. He's not the type to ignore anyone's thoughts as paranoia. And they might not even have worries! Maybe some team members are excited about the software and have ideas for how to use it in ways you never thought possible.
Finally we come to the fun part! Your hard work starts to pay off here. We've discussed some great examples of how to use the software, but you can get more creative than that! Think about it, employee monitoring may have started as a way to keep tabs, but it's evolved from that into a business insight and analytics tool.
You are only limited by your imagination. Start by presenting a question or problem that needs a solution and consider how you can use your software to solve it. Here's a slight nudge in the right direction:
How many employees have fully embraced PowerPoint after our extensive training sessions? How is the use of Facebook for the whole company? Are there patterns in different departments? There is a way to make life easier for our freelancers is it? Tired of sending messages from multiple channels. Which one is the most used by people? Why do we have such high employee turnover?
If you keep asking the right (and not creepy) questions, you'll continue to find exciting ways to use the software. If you've run out of ideas, ask for them from your team. They can see an opportunity that you can't see.
Arthur, the chief content creator of a marketing team, wants to reduce the team's time viewing and addressing comments on blog posts. The right activity tracking software can help with this! One solution is to create a webhook that serves the comment to a Marketing channel in Slack. The comment is there for the entire team to see, smash, discuss and decide what to do with it. To relax? Response? Can you use it for marketing purposes? No matter what they decide, their job of tracking comments just got a whole lot easier!
How simple is it to find new ways to use your tools? All it takes is one mind to query and you'll get some serious mileage from your employee monitoring software.