How Does Employee Monitoring Software Work

Employee monitoring software is an effective tool to improve employee performance and productivity and reduce the risk of an insider threat before it becomes a problem. But if you’ve never used employee computer monitoring software before, it might seem daunting or like an invasive technology.

The good news is that monitoring software is extremely easy to use and can be easily integrated into a comprehensive employee monitoring system, even if you have a remote team or you are managing a massive workforce. 

Employee Monitoring Software

What is employee monitoring software?

Employee monitoring software tracks and records user behaviors on a designated computer. This software must be installed on the computer and enabled through administrative access. In workplace monitoring, employee monitoring software will often be pre-installed on a work computer manually or remotely, or the employee will be asked to download the software themselves. 

While features of employee computer monitoring software can vary, they typically will track employee activity on the computer based on a time clock. Once the employee signs in to the monitoring software or starts timing a given task, the tracking software will record the types of software, applications, and websites that the employee uses and visits. It might also record and log all of the keystrokes from a given time period or all of the electronic communication issued through email or an instant messaging center. 

Employee tracking is in place to ensure that employees are contributing to their work tasks and projects and not stealing money away from the company by procrastinating or doing non-work related activities. Therefore, employee monitoring software will assist a company in improving employee productivity and performance assessments, as well as project management through the task and project tracking feature. 

Other perks to employee tracking is that this intuitive software might include user behavior analytics (UBAs) in order to map out common behaviors of each employee. So when an employee deviates from those behaviors, the software will flag it as a signal to the IT department or work examiner as abnormal. Each software can be configured to recognize or ignore certain normal behaviors and other anomalous behaviors or suspicious behaviors. 

How does employee monitoring software work?

Employee monitoring software works by being installed on a given computer and configured to the desired company surveillance settings. When using a program like SoftActivity, for example, the software can be remotely installed onto a single computer or a network of computers (terminal server) that a company has remote access to and set to run either all the time or during certain time periods. 

When employee monitoring software is set to run all the time, the software is meant to be a surveillance software and go undetected by the employee. It will then begin to track normal behaviors and be told by the administrator what behaviors are normal and what might be abnormal

The software might recognize when an employee has navigated into an area that has restricted access and that they do not have privileged access to. When a potentially risky behavior like this is recognized by the software, it will either set up an alert to remind itself to monitor the employee or it will send an alert to the administrator console to notify the administrator to watch the employee. 

Other employee behaviors that a computer monitoring software might watch includes unusual sizes for downloaded files, a lot of downloads during employee time, and suspicious uploads. 

Employee monitoring software is beneficial for monitoring employee productivity too. Depending on the software features, time tracking software might also be able to monitor whether or not the employee is seated at their desk and actually working by recording live through the webcam. The software might also take regular screenshots to verify that the employee is completing the task that they are recording. 

With this tool, administrators can be sent productivity reports that report time spent at work (as an attendance tracking software), time spent on individual tasks or projects, wasted time reports, and times spent on specific websites and programs. 

Features to look for in computer monitoring software

Since monitoring software can be used to both improve productivity and to monitor a company for insider threats, there is a range of features that an employer can consider. 

While some monitoring tools have both types of features, be sure that the software has what your company needs. 

Here we break down the features that are available in employee monitoring software for each purpose:

For tracking productivity

Productivity tracking software is a robust employee tracking tool. Typically, this program will provide the administrator with access to a console that allows them to oversee all of the productivity metrics and data of the team that is connected to the software. 

Productivity tracking software features usually include: 

  • Time tracking for an individual, team, and non-project based tasks
  • Time spent on websites and apps
  • Hours spent working while time is being recorded
  • Time wasted reports and social media tracking
  • Clear individual timesheet report
  • Remote worker monitoring
  • Project and task estimations
  • Billable hours versus working hours
  • Idle detection
  • Employee performance metrics reports
  • Website restrictions
  • Easy-to-read dashboard
  • App for tracking on-the-go

More and more, businesses are turning to employee monitoring through secure software as a way to move away from micromanaging a team, which can take a toll on the productivity and corporate environment. Collecting worker productivity data will alert management to potential drops in employee morale, which can be rectified through productivity plans and proper management techniques to boost employee engagement. 

Additionally, if the company mainly works with a remote team, monitoring software is the only way that the employer will have insight into the true productivity levels of remote work and true working hours. Monitoring software for productivity might only record data during work hours. 

For surveillance purposes

Most companies handle sensitive information in one form or another. This might include client and employee private banking information and intellectual property. When holding on to this information, it is vital that the business protects it through a secure firewall, secured network, encryption, HTTPS connection, and multi-factor authentication (MFA). 

In addition to these workplace and video surveillance techniques, companies should adopt certain forms of monitoring for employee computer activity. An employee monitoring solution can monitor the following for surveillance purposes: 

  • Computer activity 
  • User behavior analytics
  • Keystroke logging
  • Electronic communication 
  • Unauthorized access and restricted data transfers
  • Internet usage 
  • Time tracking
  • GPS tracking via a mobile app
  • Website restrictions
  • Remote monitoring

The IT department will be able to use these and additional surveillance features to detect when user activity occurs and when the user’s activity deviates from normal computer activity. 

Based on continual tracking and the ability to read employee screens, employee monitoring software can go a long way in detecting unwanted errant behavior.

Safe Monitoring When Monitoring Employees

Monitoring software captures a lot of data about employees, which might include private information such as government information and passwords. As an employer, it is your job to ensure that the monitoring solution is not creating additional vulnerabilities or infringing on employee privacy by collecting this data. 

Choose to securely collect and store this information. Make sure that the software company you choose offers database backup and that it keeps all data password protected and encrypted. In the software settings, the employer can also request that the monitoring software does not record or store passwords even if the software is tracking websites and keystrokes. 

The employer or IT team can also opt to block sensitive information when capturing screenshots of sensitive documents, emails, and chats. Keeping this information could be a major security and privacy concern, especially when the information is not necessary for the business’ survival.  

Using Employee Monitoring Software to Boost Business

An employee monitoring software is a powerful tool for boosting in-house and remote employee productivity, improving employee efficiency, and also protecting a company’s assets from potential threats. 

When looking for a software tool to track time or keep employees accountable, robust employee monitoring software that monitors attendance, project and task times, and time wasted will provide a company with a lot of insight into what its employees are actually doing during working hours. 

For insider threat detection, be sure that a comprehensive software is chosen so that it can be remotely installed onto a work computer, silently record, provide remote access, and use UBAs to monitor employee behaviors. 

By SoftActivity Team

October 12th, 2020