What is employee monitoring?
Employee monitoring means gathering information about activities of the staff in the workplace using various methods: from computer monitoring to video surveillance. The main goals of such monitoring are improving productivity, controlling the corporate resources and preventing data loss and unacceptable behaviour.
Research performed by International Data Corp (IDC) shows that employees spend up to 40% of the Internet access time at work for personal purposes. The biggest time consumers are social networks and shopping websites. Around 60% of online purchases happen during work hours. According to research from Bambu by Sprout Social, about 70% of workers confess that they regularly check their social media at work. In total, the annual loss of productivity may be as high as 40%
Another concern is corporate data leakages. According to IDC, 20-30% of employees have sent emails containing trade secrets, intellectual property or other sensitive information outside their company.
Employee monitoring is a great way to control and reorganize the use of corporate resources. It is common for employees to print out personal documents on office printers to save on paid printing services. One more point to consider is the use of corporate software. Annually, British and American companies waste $34 billion on software that their staff does not use. Monitoring app usage lets you see if your employees are over-licensed or under-licensed.
The described issues make it hard to underestimate the importance of monitoring the staff.
What are the types of employee monitoring?
Web Activity Tracking
The Internet is an immense source of valuable information in any area - but it is also a great source of distractions. Tracking how your team uses the Internet can restrict these distractions. Besides, you can identify the need for training and save on service providers by improving bandwidth efficiency.
Monitoring employee emails is one of the ways to check for and prevent potential data leakages.
Computer Activity Monitoring
Computer activity monitoring is a broad term that covers tracking the user's actions on the corporate computer. It includes keylogging, applications and websites use, screenshots, printer use, active and idle time, search queries recording and more. The monitoring program presents the accumulated data in detailed reports and statistical charts and graphs. They give an insight into the work process, serve as productivity trackers, help to maintain the discipline and reveal if the staff uses corporate resources appropriately and wisely.
Though not as widely used as other forms of employee monitoring, location tracking is a valuable way to monitor the staff. It is essential for people who work in the field or frequently go on business trips. GPS tracking helps to find company-owned devices if they are stolen or lost. You can also monitor and find the most efficient routes and improve the safety of employees working in remote locations.
Call monitoring is usual for sales managers or customer support agents. Special programs record calls, and these recordings later allow managers to ensure that employees follow the communication standards, investigate customer complaints and train new team members.
Video surveillance systems are most effective in places that raise concerns for the security of employees and the company's property. Here they help to prevent theft or sabotage and ensure that the work conditions meet the security requirements. Although video surveillance is not the best way to measure productivity, the surveillance data may be valuable in attendance tracking and investigating internal incidents.
How to monitor productivity in the workplace?
Set clear expectations and deadlines
Your team will never be efficient if they do not know what and when you expect from them. Set clear and measurable goals not only for the business on the whole but also for each team and team member.
Use project management software
There are plenty of apps on the market that make project management effortless and efficient. They let you track who is responsible for what work and how much time they spend on it. You can assign tasks to employees, set deadlines and discuss the project - all in one program. Save time on management and keep your team's efforts coordinated.
Measure results, not the work time
Your team may be the most punctual in the world, coming and leaving the office dead on time. Yet, they may spend most of their work time watching funny cat videos on Youtube or casually chatting with colleagues over a cup of coffee. On the contrary, a person may always be a half-hour late - and yet bring the most benefit to the company. Consider the result of the work, not how much time workers spend in the office.
Quality over quantity
Five well-done tasks bring more profit than a dozen poorly done ones. While assessing productivity, pay more attention to the quality of work, not quantity. It is especially significant for manufacturing businesses.
If you notice a low-productive worker, do not rush to call them lazy and say "goodbye". They may be struggling due to the lack of training or unclear tasks. In this case, your advice and feedback will improve their work performance. Interact with the team and create an efficient feedback culture in your company.
Track computer activity
Using employee monitoring software like Clever Control will let you look into the workflow and see how your team perform their duties. Detect unproductive activities, monitor attendance and work time and control the use of resources of the company.
What does employee monitoring software do?
Nowadays, employee monitoring software is the most widespread method of productivity tracking in most companies, big or small. It is easy and effective: the system administrator installs the monitoring program on the company computers. After that, the program does all the work, automatically tracking the activity on these computers and interpreting it. Depending on the functionality of the chosen software, it can record keystrokes, active and inactive time, attendance, tasks completion, take screenshots and much more. The most advanced programs have such additional features as broadcasting screens of the monitored computers live, making video, audio or call recordings, calculating payroll and others.
You can receive gathered data by email, cloud storage or your online dashboard and stay aware of the work process both in the office and on a business trip.
What are the pros and cons of employee monitoring?
find out ineffective work patterns or unforeseen difficulties, for example, when employees spend more time on the task than expected
analyze work processes and optimize them
reveal the need of redistributing the workload
identify the need for training
track work time and attendance
ensure that the staff use company resources wisely
save on unused software or resources and employee retention
control that team members always follow the code of corporate conduct both in their interactions with colleagues and customers
prevent sensitive data leakages
provide the necessary evidence in internal investigations
improve work conditions
Employees may feel that monitoring violates their privacy
They may perceive it as the lack of trust
Knowing about the productivity tracking software, a person may overwork and worry about their performance which leads to higher stress level and the risk of burnout
Many people use the same devices at work and home. They may see monitoring as an intrusion into their personal life
Collected data may be misused if wrong people get access to it
The employer must study and comply with legal requirements for employee monitoring. As an employer, you must be transparent with your staff about what data you collect and for what purposes. Make it clear that your goal is not to spy but to create a workplace where everyone can perform their duties best and work together as a team
Is employee monitoring legal?
So, you know how monitoring can help you reach higher with your business goals. You have weighed the pros and cons and chosen the best tool for your purposes. However, there is one more crucial matter to consider - the law covering employee monitoring.
Although employers have been tracking their staff for years, the laws regarding employee monitoring are still vague and depend heavily upon the country, the state or even the county. Speaking about the USA, most monitoring methods are legal here. The employer is free to monitor the computer and Internet usage, private messages, emails, phone calls on the company-owned devices. They can implement video and audio surveillance (excluding private spaces) and even monitor personal devices (with a few limitations) if the worker uses them for work. Moreover, in some states, the employer is not obliged to notify the staff about most surveillance activities.
However, we still recommend being transparent with the company policy and reasons for surveillance. This way, you ease the stress of being tracked for your staff and avoid any possible disputes in future.
In Europe, most employee monitoring methods are legal if they abide by the GDPR laws. Introduced on May 25, 2018, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) aims at giving individuals control over their data. It applies to any organization and regulates how they must process and keep the personal data of individuals. According to the GDPR, you, as an employer, must notify the staff about the monitoring methods and receive their consent for data collection. You are also responsible for protecting the collected data.
GDPR applies to all organizations in the EU. It also includes enterprises that are based outside it but have employees in the EU.
GDPR does not directly address many aspects of surveillance in the workplace, such as computer, Internet usage, email and social media tracking. Here the rule of thumb is to notify the staff about the monitoring in advance through a clear internal policy and obtain their consent. The tracking methods that you use must not infringe or restrict the person's fundamental right to privacy. GDPR strictly forbids recording keystrokes and screen activity on company-owned and personal devices that the person might use for work.
There are similar laws in India, Canada, Nigeria, Malaysia and several other countries. The employer must have a valid reason for tracking the staff, inform the employees what data they collect and by what means and get their permission for monitoring. However, there are quite a few nuances here, depending on the country. For example, in Russia, employers can only monitor the duration of phone calls and the numbers of participants, but not the actual phone calls. In Finland, which has the strictest data protection laws, employers have very few rights for monitoring computer usage.
To ensure that surveillance in your company does not infringe any laws, we recommend always consulting your local and state laws. It is also advisable to be transparent with your staff about the reasons for monitoring, what data you collect and how you will use it.