Do I need to monitor my employees computer usage?

The topic of employee monitoring is something that everyone wants to avoid, but carry on with anyway. To many people, employee monitoring gives a strong vibe of big brother, something that no one wants to behold. On the other hand, companies will miss out on overseeing employee productivity if they only claim to have remote teams and digital activities but do not prioritize this concept.

The problems only begin here. Monitoring employees is something easier to be said than done. If you want to adopt it, you have to have a steady hand to manage the technological and legislative challenges. For instance, you have to set up a suitable employee monitoring software on hardware and it should be easily operable by employees. You also need to check for device compatibility and usage patterns and make sure the tool is optimum for them. Monitoring software collects (very) personal data on employees to some extent, so take steps to explain how their data will be stored and used before deploying it. If you have teams across borders, following the same process for different regions will be harder (or impossible, in some cases) as the privacy and employee laws vary between countries.

Still, the importance of employee monitoring is rising everyday. Many industries, including healthcare, are required by law to collect data on usage patterns for security reasons. American Management Association found the following states on employee monitoring in a survey:

  • Of all the employers using employee monitoring tools, 45% track content and keystrokes
  • 43% review the computer files and keep them stored
  • 12% of employers check the blogosphere to learn what is being said about their businesses
  • 10% check social sites

But, is employee monitoring required in your organization? Let’s see the variables that may require you to oversee employees, and when it is better to avoid.

Positive sides to monitor employees computer

Privacy might be a concern, but it is hard to deny the positive effects of monitoring employees.

Security Increase

We are using the term “security” in a broad sense which allocates IT security, legal security, and employee security as well. As an employer, you do want to prevent phishing, business email compromises, and protect business computers from ransomware. For this reason, your best interest should be stopping employees from engaging in dangerous behavior or monitoring their behavior.

You also want to save your business from unwanted lawsuits resulting from employees accessing illegal websites, using illegal programs, or doing unlawful activities using business properties.

You might also like to read: What software do companies use to monitor employees?

Time Wastage Reduction

As found in a survey, U.S. employees spend only 39% of work hours on primary tasks – a reduction from 45% found a few years earlier.

But the state does not justify the whole picture- employees were not necessarily unproductive during the time. 59% of survey attendees said that their workflow was interrupted by wasteful meetings, and 43% of the attendees mentioned excessive emails to be the cause of lacking productivity.

One out of four office employees asked for a flawless work environment to provide higher output. With the monitoring tool, you can detect what is causing a distraction for employees and help them create a better work environment.

High-Performance and Low-Performance Employee Recognition

When a restaurant in Dallas introduced software to track waiters, tickets, and the dishes to reduce employee theft, an unexpected side effect came up with it. Turned out, an employee named Jim Sullivan was doing an outstanding job of serving customers. So much so, that he was offered to work in the position of manager for a new branch when it opened.

This was only possible thanks to the technology of employee monitoring. But of course, something else could have happened as opposed to what happened with Jim Sullivan.

If you find someone who is consistently underperforming, you can help them to do better by showing the records and statistics kept by the monitoring tool. If the real cause of their poor performance is not external, you can detect it and hire someone else if the employee fails to follow your instruction.

Negative sides to monitor employees computer

Although employee monitoring tools only work with good intentions, you may face some unintended negative consequences.

It can lower employee morale and productivity level

Everyone desires freedom and less surveillance- it applies to your employees too. You could build an invisible wall of distrust and dissatisfaction by crossing the line of tolerance while monitoring employees.

When employee morale drops, so does the productivity level. Even worse, it could lead to a higher turnover.

Manager Discrimination and Legal Trouble

Employees’ worst fear is not the surveillance, rather when you or another manager overstep your bounds. Surveillance on daily performance eventually leads to gathering knowledge on employees’ personal preferences and intimate details like political views, religious beliefs, sexual life, and medical issues.

Privacy Rights allows you or other managers to monitor employee computers, emails, and web usage throughout the working time, but learning about sensitive personal issues can lead to unwanted discrimination against employees, which will cost your business a fortune in legal battles.

What is an effective way to start employee monitoring?

If you find the negative sides heavier than the positive sides, and still need to deploy a tool to monitor employees computer, then try these five strategies to secure an effective monitoring program at the workplace:

Create a transparent surveillance policy

Monitoring employees without their acknowledgment will create future employee annoyance. So be transparent and straightforward about the surveillance policies and make sure that you have strategies to overcome any challenges and foster mutual trust. Honesty between you and your employees is the key to building a proper monitoring system.

Tell them explicitly about how and why you have implemented a monitoring tool, what they can expect from using this at work, how it will help them to improve work efficiency as well as create higher goals.

Make it official: Do a presentation on employee monitoring

This sounds awkward, but you should better do this to prove that you are on the employees’ side. This will help you to sell the new rules of the office to your employees.

Start with how the employee monitoring tool helps to improve the overall business, and more importantly, how it helps to improve employee performance at work.

Additionally, show the tools that you want to use and let your employees vote on which one they would feel comfortable implementing. It will look more like a collaborative, democratic discussion and less like a top-down authorization.

You can make your implementing event more successful by letting your employees buy the tool themselves- it will help to not appear like a forced decision.

Create the formal list of policies for monitoring

Once you are done with preaching, hand over a written policy with explicit details and let your employees sign it.

When you are writing the policies, keep these factors in mind:

  1. It has to be written in plain English without gibberish or in-direct so that everyone can understand in an instant.
  2. Give a brief knowledge of what software and hardware you are going to use for monitoring, how the collected information will be used for analysis, and where the information will be stored.
  3. Be open to comments, criticisms, or suggestions from the employee side regarding the program and ensure that no one feels hesitant to come forward with suggestions.
  4. Remember to add legal provisions if necessary.

Do a follow up on the policies

After two weeks or a month of monitoring, go through the report of your software and match them with other business reports that you may have in hand. Find an answer to this question: Is there any significant change in your business and employee behavior since the implementation of the monitoring system?

If any potential issues to be found– like negative performance or unprofessional behavior from any employee- take immediate curative action.

If you find clear benefits, then announce them to your employees and show it as proof that your employee monitoring software is indeed the right tool to use.

Look for feedback

When you will ask for feedback on the monitoring tool, your employees will feel more comfortable with the new changes and help you to improve the tool in the process as well. To make the feedback faster and simpler, post questions and ask for feedback on a company news-thread or group. It is the easiest way to grab and store all employees’ opinions.

You might also like to read: Monitoring Employees Working from Home Using Computer Tracking Software

How can you secure the employee data?

A great advantage of the current-gen applications is that they are vastly cloud-based, so your duty to keep the data stored in a secured place is not needed at all. CloudDesk® remote employee monitoring software, for example, keeps the data on its server and lets the administrator check from mobile and computer platforms on the go. Your employees’ data regarding logging in/out, total work hours, and analysis of productivity t and idle times- all are visible just from clicks.

Your employees can use this data to create a better workstyle. It helps to know if your employees are working on the right track by taking random screenshots and keeps them attentive to work by sending periodic pop-ups.

Employees can also work flexible hours with this tool as it allows them to pause the time clock whenever they need, thus eliminating the need for taking any day off for minor tasks. Try the software with the 14-day trial to get a deeper look before going for the final purchase.

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