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If you’ve noticed your team’s productivity is slipping, it’s time to start considering the pros and cons of employee monitoring. But let’s be frank: monitoring employees has a stigma around it.
Monitoring employees can create a culture of distrust if handled poorly — but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Lots of organizations monitor employee activity to watch for signs of progress and identify areas for growth. They even use employee monitoring to watch and reward teamwork and boost employee morale.
This article covers different monitoring tools, how they can help employees and companies, what situations employers will want to avoid, and the best way to get a positive employee monitoring plan up and running.
But first, let’s be clear about what is and isn’t employee monitoring.
Employee monitoring is a form of surveillance in the workplace where employers gather various performance and productivity metrics. This might include device activity, URL and app usage, and location.
In most cases, employee monitoring software reinforces internet usage policies. It also adds a layer of security and ensures employees complete their work.
There are many types of employee monitoring that organizations can utilize to keep watch over their workforce. Check out a few examples below.
When employees travel during their work hours, it’s hard to ensure they’re completing their jobs safely and promptly.
With GPS tracking software, managers can track employee activity for field teams. They can view a team’s location, track routes and mileage, and verify their work hours from one central location.
For employees who travel or work in hazardous conditions, GPS tracking helps supplement safety protocols. It’s also helpful for identifying lost, damaged, or stolen equipment.
Employee monitoring software helps employers identify how their employees use the internet. Common monitoring capabilities include logging visits to social media sites, recording browser history, and taking screenshots of employee monitors at set intervals.
Some employee monitoring apps can also gauge the internet bandwidth to ensure employees aren’t using applications or visiting websites they’re not supposed to.
Many employers set up email monitoring to protect their businesses from malware or viruses. The same monitoring software ensures that employers respect clients and one another.
Overall, email monitoring helps ensure the quality of messages being transmitted. This includes unsafe file sharing and the use of inappropriate or offensive language.
Quite frequently, companies record phone conversations for quality control and training. While this type of monitoring is quite popular in call centers, it can also be effective in other industries.
Having a phone recording policy helps prevent employees from using business phones for personal calls. It’s also useful for archiving conference calls for anyone that can’t attend.
When employers monitor software and app usage, they gain a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of their employees. They can see which tools are helpful, distracting, or just unnecessary.
With this data, employers can make better software purchases that save them money and help their team be more productive.
Employee time is easy to track. With the right employee time tracking software, you can see late, missed, or abandoned shifts. You’ll also be able to spot burnout, see time spent on specific tasks, and generate timesheets to pay your team.
This type of monitoring records the keystrokes made on a device. Employers can then use this data to gauge how productive their employees are. While keystroke monitoring can be incredibly insightful, it can also log sensitive information like passwords, credit cards, and banking credentials.
If you’re simply looking for a gauge of productivity, a tool that tracks keyboard activity might be a better (and safer) fit.
Video surveillance is common in workplaces and is usually used for security purposes. In most cases, the risk management team utilizes footage to ensure there is no theft, sabotage, or violence taking place.
While video surveillance is extremely common, make sure to read up on the laws in your area. For instance, numerous U.S. states require proper signage for legal video surveillance.
Employee monitoring can be advantageous for both employees and employers. Managers can use employee monitoring software to:
Increase their bottom line
Good monitoring practices help instill teamwork, motivate employees to perform at their best, and help point out employees who are primed for advancement.
Monitoring employees can directly benefit workplace culture. When everyone is on the same page, you’ll see benefits like:
Providing clear expectations goes a long way. When your employees know exactly what’s expected of them, they have the blueprint for success. This actually helps employees feel empowered to do better work.
Teams function seamlessly when all co-workers are held responsible. Projects become easier, relationships grow stronger, and everyone benefits. Transparency helps teams empathize and understand their role in the process.
Employees that are excelling in their roles won’t go unnoticed. Monitoring employees shines a spotlight on outstanding employee performance that might normally happen behind the scenes.
Increased employee recognition clears the path to new career opportunities. Employees who regularly complete tasks efficiently and effectively will have performance data at their fingertips. They can use this data to make a case for promotions, raises, and other opportunities.
All these factors combined can create a positive work culture that encourages teams to work hard, rely on one another, and succeed. Those feelings of personal and professional growth will often lead to increased employee retention.
Of course, monitoring employees leads to significant benefits for the company as well. For managers or business owners, employee monitoring can:
All the employee-specific benefits mentioned earlier work together to help build a more engaged workforce. Increased engagement can then lead to increased productivity, better outputs, and increased profits.
Monitoring employee processes is more than just watching what employees are doing wrong. With proof of work and time tracking tools, managers can see how much time employees spend on each activity, locate bottlenecks, and improve processes.
Taking a candid glimpse at the way the business functions helps improve processes. This is especially helpful when managing a large team of remote employees.
Most monitoring software will present real-time employee performance data via a series of impactful reports. Others provide real-time updates on a dashboard. These features allow management to see and assess trends in employee productivity. This allows them to make informed decisions for the good of the company.
Monitoring employees can also offset future cybersecurity issues. Some tools help you gauge URL and app usage to identify data breaches. With the right data, managers can identify if the breach occurred due to glitches in security, risky behavior, or employee negligence.
When processes are efficient, employees are engaged, and decisions are informed, reduced overhead tends to follow. This adjusted spending can then lead to increased revenue.
There are some cons to employee monitoring — but they all center around negative perceptions and improper implementation of monitoring policies.
The stigma with employee monitoring is that it negatively impacts employee morale. Many employees fear that monitoring processes would weaponize the work environment. As the manager, you must be transparent with employees and let them know they are not being penalized. Create a policy that shows them the positives, helps them buy in, and gives them ample notice of the changes.
Some employees may feel like their employers don’t trust them. Managers can combat these feelings by explaining how effective employee monitoring programs help improve productivity, balance workloads, and prevent burnout and distractions.
Managers should also show how monitoring data becomes an undisputable gauge of employee performance that can be used to negotiate promotions and wage increases.
Privacy concerns are another valid complaint. Employees should feel comfortable logging into their bank account or entering their social security number on a form.
These concerns often stem from misinformation. It’s important to explain how keyboard and mouse activity tracking is not keystroke logging. Proof of work tools that blur out personal data also ease these concerns.
Companies can easily fall into legal trouble when they use tracking tools unethically to uncover employee data.
Employee monitoring laws do allow companies to legally monitor their employees during the workday. That said, laws like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 look out for employees’ rights.
Many of the concerns above can be addressed when employers clearly articulate their reasons for using employee monitoring software. Once employees realize that ethical use of monitoring software is a primary goal, monitoring processes can be understood and accepted.
Putting a transparent monitoring policy in place is a great way to address concerns. That said, the right employee monitoring tools make a difference too.
Hubstaff employee monitoring software provides proof of work with time tracking, keyboard and mouse activity monitoring, URL and app usage metrics, and optional screenshots. Managers and employees can view these real-time updates right from the dashboard for better decision-making.
Are you considering implementing an employee monitoring program in your organization to improve your process workflows, productivity rates, and workplace culture? Our employee monitoring software can help.
Hubstaff's employee monitoring tools increase security, protect employee data, and make time tracking more efficient.