Employee monitoring isn’t such a new practice as you might think… However, the employee monitoring software could be considered a novelty. After all, it’s only been so long since almost all of our work switched to computers.
Whatever your opinions are about it, the fact is that the industry isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. There are more tools being made every year, innovative features are added, and computer trackers are finding their place in almost every office. If you’ve never had the opportunity to encounter such system, you probably have a lot of questions about it.
We’ve done a bit of research, found 10 most common questions about employee monitoring and answered them in this article.
What Is Considered Employee Monitoring?
You could say that employee monitoring is any form of observing your employees and the way they work. Depending on the type of monitoring, this practice is useful for protecting the company's assets, ensuring business standards are being met, increasing productivity, and so on.
Some of the most common ways to monitor your employees are:
- Network monitoring
- Email monitoring
- Call monitoring
- Employee monitoring software
What are Employee Monitoring Tools?
Employee monitoring tools are any software and hardware used to perform the monitoring we’ve talked about above. In CCTV monitoring you have cameras and the software you’re using to check on those cameras. When it comes to keycards, there’s software which allows you to program them for different access levels, but you also have the keycard locks where your employees swipe cards to open doors around the office building. For network, email and call monitoring you would typically install software on your employees’ devices in order to track these activities.
Is Employee Monitoring Ethical?
Employee monitoring is as ethical as you make it. If you’re tracking employees without their knowledge, or accessing their private information through the computer tracker, you’re not really using the software in an ethical way.
The point is, it can be ethical, but it depends solely on you and your company’s values. To make monitoring as ethical as possible, you should be transparent with your workers about it. Tell them from the start that you intent to monitor their computer activities, explain what will be monitored, how you’ll store and use data, etc. Additionally, you can create a written company policy about monitoring, and share it with all employees.
Another way to ensure ethical monitoring is to limit access to the data you’re collecting. As a business owner you’ll obviously have admin access, and you’ll be able to see everyone’s information. Your managers should only have access to their department’s data, and each of your employees should be able to see their own activities.
Is Employee Monitoring Legal?
This really depends on the country you live in, but in most cases employee monitoring is legal. There are, however, certain requirements you must meet if you want to use computer trackers.
For example, some states in the US require employers to notify employees about the monitoring, others don’t. The same is with all other countries in the world. Which is why we urge you to consult a legal team before taking any steps regarding the monitoring software. Especially if you’re working with a remote team.
How Does Employee Monitoring Software Work?
Employee monitoring software is made out of two parts: the agent, and the dashboard. The agent is a piece of software you install on employees’ computers, while the dashboard is the place where you can log in and check what are your workers up to.
The dashboard is usually web-based, so you can access it from anywhere in the world. The agents can either be installed in stealth mode (employees won’t be able to see them, and they’ll automatically track all activities on their computers), or they can be visible (in which case employees can start and stop the tracker as they please).
Depending on the software you’ve purchased, it can track how much time employees spend in different apps and websites. But, it can also track their keystrokes, take screenshots, record their screen, and sometimes even give you the ability to access employees’ computer remotely.
The majority of computer trackers are focused on security, so you can expect to see features like USB monitoring, alerts you can receive when someone downloads a lot of data, etc.
How to Announce Employee Monitoring?
This is the toughest part of employee monitoring implementation - breaking the news to your employees. You can never be 100% sure how they’ll react to it, and you must deal with the fact that not everyone will like this idea.
We recommend that you announce this change personally instead of using an email. Have a company-wide meeting, or a conference call, and notify all departments that you’re currently looking for a monitoring tool which will suit you best. Explain that during the trial period they might be asked to test out some functionalities of different software options, until you find the right one.
Take time to explain WHY you decided to implement this software. It’s one of the best ways to put your employees’ minds at ease, because the first thought most of them will have is that you’re trying to spy or micromanage them. Think about the issues you’re trying to resolve with the tracking system, and explain them to the employees. Also, make sure you clarify how the software will benefit THEM.
Set aside some time for questions, because your employees will surely have a lot of them. Try to answer them as honestly as possible, and don’t try to crawl your way out of this part of the implementation, since the future of your company depends on it.
How to Trick Employee Monitoring Software?
Believe it or not, this is one of the most searched queries about the monitoring software online. It’s like that because employers don’t take enough time to tell their employees about the benefits of such software. Additionally, there were many employers who used this tool as a form of spying, so it’s no wonder employees aren’t psyched about it.
However, you as an employer should know how workers can (try to) trick the tracking software, and what can you do to prevent or stop such behaviour.
It might sound ridiculous, but workers are trying different ways to keep their computer mice moving so their computers don’t go into idle mode. One way they were doing it is by attaching a battery-operating toy to the mouse. While this is an effective tactic to keep the mouse moving, you’ll be able to see in the dashboard that employees didn’t spend time switching apps, websites, and tasks for a while, but that they haven’t done anything productive in the meantime. Additionally, you should use a software with the screenshot option and set up the frequency for 1 in 30 minutes. The software will capture the screen at a random time, and you’ll be able to see if your employees really worked or not.
Another way employees are tricking the software is by playing a TV show, or a Movie in full screen, with a small tab over it, where they open up an app that classifies as productive. Again, this is an issue that can easily be resolved with screenshots.
You should keep an eye on any suspicious activities and investigate them as soon as possible, before they turn into an even bigger problem.
Which Is Best Employee Monitoring Software?
Now this one really depends on what you’re looking for in a monitoring software, and there’s no definitive answer to it. Every manufacturer will tell you they’re the best, but it all comes down to your needs. Which is why we’ve created an article with top 10 employee monitoring software, so check it out to see which software ended up on the list and why.
The article also contains a handy comparison table, so you can see what type of software do you really need, and whether it’s more of a productivity or security tool.
Why Employee Monitoring Is Important?
Employee monitoring is important because it helps:
- Enhance data security
- Improve productivity
- Optimize project deliverables
- Detect malicious behaviour (harassment, malware, rogue employees, etc.)
As I mentioned in the previous segment, there are tools which are more oriented towards productivity, and others which focus on security. They are often mixed with some time tracking features, so you can track time on projects and tasks, but measure productivity at the same time.
What Is Remote Employee Monitoring?
Remote employee monitoring is like regular employee tracking but for remote teams. Most employee monitoring software you can use for office employees you can use for remote teams as well. However, in this case, you won’t be able to track them in stealth mode, and you should pay attention to the laws of their county to ensure you’re monitoring them in a legal way.
There it is, the list of 10 most searched questions about employee monitoring. Yes, there are other questions, and you probably have some as well, so feel free to reach out and ask what you want to know. Additionally, keep reading our blog for more useful information and guides similar to this one.