Is using employee monitoring software a good idea?

Employee monitoring software can provide employers with an inside look into employee productivity and employee intentions. Not only is this software useful for identifying potential rogue employees, but it can also highlight when a business may be vulnerable to data breaches or time theft. 

However, some people question whether using a remote employee monitoring software is a good idea at all. While there are numerous benefits, the software seems to pose some risk and some are worried that employee monitoring infringes on employee privacy

Is using employee monitoring software a good idea

So is employee monitoring software a good idea? In short, the answer is yes! But of course, whether or not your business adopts employee monitoring software will depend on the monitoring needs of the business.

What is employee monitoring software?

Monitoring tools can take many shapes so it is important to establish exactly what employee monitoring software is before we dive any deeper. 

In general, employee monitoring software is a type of software that is installed onto a company computer to monitor user behaviors on that computer. 

If the employer has remote access, then employee monitoring software can be installed remotely (from an administrator console) or it can be installed directly to a work computer with administrative access. Employees may also install employee monitoring software themselves, especially if tracking software is in place for monitoring and improving productivity. 

Employee tracking software may silently or actively monitor an employee to ensure that the employee is contributing to work-related activities and is not trying to damage the company through their access to secure and privileged areas. Employee computer monitoring software is also necessary if your company regularly works with a remote team where oversight is limited. 

Through the use of user behavior analytics, productivity-reporting, and an overseeing console, employee monitoring software is a one-stop-shop that allows a business to keep a necessary eye on user activity, to monitor remote employees, to ensure that work hours are being used for work purposes and to ensure that no sensitive client or company information is at risk.

Features of employee monitoring software

The way employee monitoring software identifies things like potential time theft, insider threats, and employee productivity levels, is through its many features, including:

  • Website, application, and software tracking: Monitoring software will be able to track where a cursor is located on a computer screen and identify the applications, software, or websites (if online) that the user is interacting with. So if an employee is regularly on the web and visiting a site like Facebook, your team can see that and determine if that is considered wasted time or productive time. 
  • Time tracking: Time tracking is usually a feature that an employee is actively involved in using. Time tracking software records when an employee starts and ends a timer that signifies when a task or project is completed. By establishing this information, monitoring software can be used to identify employee attendance, project timelines, and task lengths, thus keeping track of projects and ensuring that projects and tasks are completed on schedule. Time tracking software will usually provide employee attendance and time allotments with a clear timesheet.
  • Webcam monitoring: Webcam monitoring provides a live-stream of an employee’s computer webcam so that the administrator can monitor the feed and see when the employee is at their desk and working. With webcam monitoring, administrators need to be mindful of how much data is stored, any footage captured that is irrelevant to job purposes, and the liability related to that personal footage. 
  • Regular screenshots: This is a feature that enables a screenshot of an employee’s computer to be taken on a regular basis. The screenshot can be taken secretly or openly but it provides a glimpse into what the employee is doing on screen. This way, you can monitor the employee’s computer screen activity and better understand what your employee is doing and monitor whether or not their time tracking matches their actual computer behavior. 
  • Keystroke logging: Keystroke logging is an advanced feature, primarily because it captures all of the keystrokes that are typed on a monitored computer. The software then must be able to store that information securely for the administrator to review it. Keystroke logging is extremely useful in identifying when an employee is cheating their productivity tracking (perhaps they are in a messenger app and speaking with a colleague but they are not talking about work). It is most useful for identifying a rogue employee as it can identify when an employee is actively trying to gain or enable access to sensitive company information. 
  • Remote worker monitoring: Remote employee monitoring ensures that your remote team is not stealing time or data from the company. Because personal networks or foreign internet networks might be vulnerable, this additional piece of monitoring software ensures that your remote employees are contributing to the workplace and your data is safe, a feat that is otherwise impossible for remote teams. 

During working hours, employees are supposed to contribute to work-related tasks, but sometimes employees might be distracted or navigate to personal interests or other projects while online. 

In this instance, monitoring software is in place to monitor activity, identify when and if an employee is doing something other than work during employee time, and assess whether or not an employee is a threat to company assets. 

Benefits of employee monitoring software

Since employee tracking software gives employers a birds-eye-view of employees’ day-to-day tasks, there are many benefits to collecting and harnessing this data. 

The two main benefits and uses for computer monitoring software are to monitor employee activity to assess employee productivity and to protect against insider threats. This software is particularly beneficial to companies that use remote employees or frequently hire outside contractors. 

Surveillance and time tracking features can benefit your company by:

  • Recording how long it takes for an employee to complete a task or project, and providing hard data for employers to help the employee address or improve time management
  • Monitoring and recording employees that are lazy or negligent, which could eat away at your time budget but also open up gaps for malicious attacks to reach in and extrapolate sensitive data
  • Establish baseline activities and behaviors so that the software can identify when an employee has gone rogue, when they might be exhibiting risky or anomalous behaviors, and when an insider threat is imminent
  • With a mobile workforce, employee monitoring can provide remote monitoring solutions and  GPS tracking with a mobile app

The reason for attempting to protect a company against insider and a poor overall productivity level is because they both have major financial implications. 

For example, poor employee efficiency seems to cost companies billions in time theft. Unhappy workers cost the USD 450 to 550 billion annually to lost productivity, with 70% of employees disengaged at work and 80% disengaged as a result of a poor manager. Monitoring computer activity can provide an employer with performance metrics so that employee performance is improved over time and their employee engagement can return. 

Data breaches also pose a major source of concern; as IBM’s Data Breach Report found, an estimated USD 3.86 million was the average cost of a data breach, but the number peaked at USD 8.64 in the US, making it the most expensive country for a data breach to occur. Surveillance software can mitigate internet usage and stop an insider threat based on employee behavior trends.

With these financials considered, it is of the utmost importance to protect your bottom line against these unwanted losses with a powerful monitoring tool. 

Privacy concerns related to employee monitoring software

At first glance, monitoring software might sound like a major privacy violation or a bit of an employer overreach. After all, computer surveillance is only for high-security organizations or parents who are worried about what their children are doing on a device. 

However, employers are granted rights for monitoring employees protected within relevant laws to ensure that the money spent on employees is actually being put to good use. 

Similar to when an employee can be surveilled when physically heading into work, clocking in and being subjected to certain physical security measures on-premise, an employee monitoring system online will monitor employee behaviors on a computer to ensure that the employee is not reporting any suspicious behavior. 

Depending on the physical location of the company, an employee monitoring tool is legal under local jurisdiction so long as the software is necessary to ensure the vitality and functioning of the business. None of the monitoring data should be captured or used for civil purposes, defamation, or bribery. 

Protecting your company’s time and assets with SoftActivity

In today’s virtual world, and when working with a remote workforce, monitoring your employees’ behavior can minimize the risk of an insider attack and ensure that your dollar is being spent on productivity rather than laziness. 

When searching for an employee monitoring solution, be sure that the software vendor has the options that best fit your monitoring goals, the size of your company, and network specifications. 

Here at SoftActivity, we offer a monitoring solution for workstations and terminal servers. We also support LAN activity monitoring through a centralized administrator’s computer or server.  

By SoftActivity Team

October 20th, 2020