How Companies Monitor Their Employees
Employee monitoring systems are becoming more in demand. A sure sign of the onset of difficult times is company’s attempts to bring order to the work team and to tighten the screws. Typically, this translates into a more careful monitoring of lateness, blocking social networks on company computers, as well as implementing various solutions to keep track of what people do in the office. It is expected that these methods will help improve results and finally identify the lazy employees. Let’s find out what the actual results of employee monitoring can be.
Everything’s Under Control
In the first business day of 2016 CleverControl Software has registered more than 40 requests for the deployment of pilot projects. The explanation is simple: most companies now want to say goodbye to inefficient staff members and keep the most productive ones. And to find out who is who, they need a tool for objective evaluation of each employee. With CleverControl employers can find out how their employees spend their working hours and which programs they use. By tracking all actions on a computer, this employee monitoring system can record data leaks and even warn about an employee’s intention to leave. If for example, an employee types “job vacancies” in a search engine and then spends some time on recruiting websites, CleverControl will record it and inform the manager. The same thing happens if in a messenger or an email-client employee writes “database” and “money”, and then goes into some Internet cloud storage or a file sharing website, or simply connects a flash drive to the PC. The system can also help you check if office printers are used for printing non-work-related documents. It can record audio from microphone, web-camera, and allows you to see any desktop live. With this program only hidden use is possible, meaning that the running program is not seen by the user. “Every new employee we hire nowadays has to sign a written confirmation that he or she has been notified about monitoring, know what program is installed on their work station, know its capabilities and so on.” says experienced HR-manager Nancy Boyd. “We mostly use the program as the productivity boosting tool. Most extensively we monitor newcomers in case they need some help on start, but we also check in on others. This program is good for improving HR processes, but the scope of it is quite broad so it’s always nice to have the ace in the hole in case we ever need to investigate any wrongdoing in the office.” Some clients have already alerted CleverControl about actual cases of employees sabotaging their company by leaking databases and info about transactions to competitors. Another company found out that their employees often do nothing at work. One of their units was completely disbanded and the people were transferred to another department. But for three months they were coming to work, doing virtually nothing and still receiving their salary. In another case, a designer has been systematically failing to meet the deadline for his projects, which is no surprise since it turned out that he was learning to play the guitar for six hours a day instead of working.
Problems with Law
No matter how useful such programs may be, you should use them with caution: instead of increasing the efficiency they can lead to problems with the law. If you look at it from employees’ point of view the company collects their personal data, which is unlawful. But recent trends show that courts more often take the employers’ side. Like the landmark ruling of The European Court of Human Rights from January 2016 which basically allows employers to monitor personal correspondence of their employees in the workplace in certain circumstances. However, this case has raised a lot of question and many of them have not been answered. So there are a lot of gray areas still. That’s why you should always consult with a lawyer before installing such system.
The Effect of Presence
One of the program users, Head of B2B-Center staff Sarah Flores, said that the program is used in her company to correct the calculation of wages in the absence of an employee. “Now, if any employee does not come to work, monitoring system sees it and we can quickly contact the head of the department to find out the reason of absence.”
According to business consultant Michael Greene, there are positive and negative sides in these programs. Thanks to them, the executive sees a more or less realistic picture of how his or her employees work. At the same time, total control generates a lie. “We need to understand that a person is not a robot. Employees cannot do the same thing all day long because there are such factors as the need for distraction and exhaustion.” said the expert. According to Mr. Greene, when using such programs it is necessary to warn people about it in order not to violate the subordinates’ rights. But instead of trying to ban modern communication tools from the office try to teach people to use them for work. For example, social networks allow employees to obtain information from their counterparts and to establish the negotiating process. So, these programs are quite useful in many cases. But they cannot be used on their own or serve as an instrument of oppression and total control. Instead, they will provide information that can become a basis for a whole strategy of improving business processes in your company.