Want to introduce employee tracking software to your company? A successful deployment requires buy-in from your key stakeholders; your employees, business leaders, and software administrators.
In this guide, you will learn the benefits of monitoring employees, how to evaluate employee tracking software vendors, and what you need to do to get buy-in for employee monitoring from all levels of your organization.
Employee tracking software is an application that monitors computer activities such as internet and application usage. These workplace monitoring tools are used to enforce company policies, improve employee productivity, and protect against high-risk computer activities.
“To help control the risk of litigation, security breaches, and other electronic disasters, employers should take advantage of monitoring and blocking technology to battle people problems—including the accidental and intentional misuse of computer systems and other electronic resources.”Nancy Flynn, Executive Director of The ePolicy Institute
Employee tracking software collects valuable workforce analytics data that provides insights into employee work habits. These insights help managers and other business leaders make data-informed management decisions.
How does employee tracking improve productivity?
Employee tracking software improves capital efficiency in two key ways: By helping optimize existing work processes and by reducing software expenses.
1E estimates that as much as 38% of enterprise software is underutilized or simply not being used at all. Worst yet, they found that this underutilized software cost businesses in the US and UK an estimated $34 billion per year.
Highly regulated industries such as financial services and healthcare use electronic monitoring software to ensure that their employees comply with company security policies.
Consider this: 58% of data loss events in healthcare involve insiders, making insider threats the single greatest data security threat for the industry.
Without systems to monitor employee computer activity in place your company risks being unaware of an insider data theft incident until it is far too late.
How does employee monitoring improve security?
Employers are liable for the behavior of employees in the workplace. As a business grows it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain visibility into employee work habits.
Employee tracking software provides an automated means of detecting and deterring undesirable employee computer activities such as software piracy, workplace harassment, and NSFW web browsing before they escalate.
How does employee monitoring limit liability risks?
Simply put, without buy-in from all levels of your organization you will not be able to reap the benefits of employee tracking software.
If your board doesn’t understand the ROI of monitoring employees, you’ll lack the internal support to implement the software in the first place.
If your managers don’t understand how employee activity data can help them and their employees work more efficiently, they’ll not use the software to its full potential.
If your employees don’t understand how monitoring their work habits is going to benefit them and the business, they’re going to assume it’s being used to spy on them.
The unique perspectives of all of these stakeholders need to be considered when you decide to implement employee tracking software in your organization. Without their support you will not be able to see the full benefits of your proposed solution, or worse; your idea might get shot down altogether.
By prioritizing buy-in on all levels you can ensure that the use of employee tracking software is well-received by employees, managers, and other key stakeholders.
What happens when you don’t have buy-in from all stakeholders?
Employee buy-in is largely influenced by
With this in mind, you need to sell your employees on the tangible benefits that employee tracking software will provide them. They need to trust that their leadership team has their best interests in mind.
This next section will outline exactly what you need to do to build this trust, communicate the benefits of your desired solution, and generate buy-in among your employees.
If your company has never previously used employee tracking software you may not be aware of the potential concerns that employees may have about being monitored in the workplace.
Being aware of these potential concerns in advance will help you empathize with employees and explain the true value of the tracking software. Provide their managers with the answers to these FAQs in advance and encourage them to follow up with any other questions they get along the way.
To get an accurate picture of employee sentiment, the best practice is to consult with them directly. Explain your intended use of the software and collect any feedback they may have. Make note of these concerns and provide reassurance about the intended use of the software.
During this process, you must assure your employees that…
If consulting with each employee is not scalable, consider consulting with a representative sample of employees from a variety of backgrounds. This advisory committee will help advocate for the workplace privacy concerns of employees and provide valuable insights into employee sentiment.
Involving employees in the early planning process provides them with ample opportunity to voice their concerns. It also provides the organization with an opportunity to communicate how monitoring software will be used before rumors and misunderstandings can spread.
“If organizations wish to monitor their employees, they should be clear about its purpose and that it brings real benefits. Organizations also need to make employees aware of the nature, extent, and reasons for any monitoring”Spokesperson from the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office
Transparency is not legally required in all jurisdictions. That said, if you want to increase employee buy-in for monitoring software you’ll want to avoid secretly monitoring their computer activity.
Employees that are not aware that they are being monitored, why they are being monitored, and how they are being monitored are less likely to find employee monitoring acceptable.
If your employees aren’t clear on how they will be monitored in the workplace they’ll be left to assume the worst—micromanaging bosses spying on their every move, keyloggers capturing private information, audio recording devices eavesdropping on private conversations, you name it.
Fortunately, 84% of employers surveyed by the American Management Association said that they notify their employees that they monitor and review computer activity.
How to increase transparency when monitoring employees
Many organizations choose to simply disclose their intent to monitor in an acceptable use policy. While this is often proficient from a legal standpoint, the lack of specificity may be concerning to some employees.
For example, an employee may be comfortable having their internet history monitored but they would be devastated to find out that their private social media conversations are being logged. Unless you’ve made it explicitly clear that personal use is prohibited they may not think twice about sending private personal messages during their breaks.
When it comes to monitoring in the workplace, many believe that if an employee is using company equipment, on company time, and getting paid by the company, that the company has every right to monitor their equipment and what the employee is doing with it.
While this is true in the majority of cases, the monitoring of computer activity can still be perceived as invasive in some circumstances. It’s up to business leaders to ensure that employee tracking software is used ethically and that employee privacy expectations are properly managed.
Factors that influence the perceived invasiveness of employee monitoring
Rutgers psychologist Jack Aiello has extensively studied the effects of computer monitoring on employee performance. He’s found that employees who are monitored and constantly told that they’re not working fast enough have little motivation to improve their work”Alana Semuels, L.A. Times
Emphasizing independence and autonomy is critical if you will be using tracking software to monitor employee performance. A report from Topia found that 63% of employees defined a great employee experience as being “empowered and trusted to do their job with little supervision.”
When your organization first starts monitoring employee productivity your employees aren’t going to be ranked as 100% productive. This may tempt managers to crack down on all activities that are labeled as “unproductive” to boost their team’s productivity scores.
Micromanaging employee behavior in this way is going to do more harm than good.
Employee productivity monitoring software is meant to provide a high-level overview of how your employees have spent their time; it is not a replacement for discretion.
It should be used as a tool for employers and employees alike to identify areas of improvement. If monitoring is used to micromanage employees it will further upset the balance of power in the workplace, leading to negative employee sentiment.
If employees feel that monitoring is being used for discipline, micromanagement, and surveillance rather than business intelligence they are far less likely to accept being monitored in the workplace.
Besides, “unproductive” web browsing can increase employee productivity. According to a publication from Brent Coker of the University of Melbourne when “cyberloafing” does not consume more than 12% of an employee’s work time it provides a valuable outlet for managing an employee’s mental energy throughout the day.
“Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the Internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days’ work, and as a result, increased productivity.”Brent Coker, Lecturer of Marketing, University of Melbourne
Key considerations when using employee performance monitoring software
Some employee tracking software vendors encourage their customers to use employee productivity reports as a leaderboard to encourage engagement and friendly competition.
While it’s true that a bit of friendly competition can provide employees with an incentive to meet critical KPIs, if you take a critical look at what’s being tracked, there’s nothing that can be reliably used.
Here’s what employee tracking software can track
While all of these metrics are valuable for understanding how employees spend their time, it’s not a fair comparison for a competition.
Should someone that browses Reddit on their phone all day while wiggling their mouse (so as not to appear idle on their computer) be held in higher regard than someone who spends the majority of their work time focused on high-impact tasks?
Of course not!
Don’t get me wrong, there are legitimate use-cases for employee productivity monitoring—it just doesn’t provide a reliable and fair metric to use in a competition.
If activity tracking software is forcing employees to work in a way that is unnatural to them, they’re not going to react favorably.
Each employee has a different way of working, so if you incentivize “who can spend the least amount of time on social media this week” as your productivity goal it completely ignores the true value of the data—understanding how your employees work.
Employee tracking software should be used to inform decisions, not make them.
Computer activity can’t accurately reflect the quality of an employee’s work. For this reason, automated decision-making is strictly prohibited under GDPR.
High-impact decisions such as promotions, job retention, and salary negotiations require careful evaluation from someone that understands the impact the employee makes on the company.
If employees feel that their computer activity data could harm their careers, they aren’t going to support the idea of being monitored in the workplace.
That said, it’s important to clarify what “automated decision-making” means.
For example, you are perfectly fine to use employee tracking software to alert you when an employee visits an inappropriate website. You can then take this information and use it to issue corrective action after manual review from a qualified representative from the company.
In this example, the alert was issued by the employee tracking system, but the decision to respond to the alert was taken by a human following a review of that data. This is not automated decision-making, so it is perfectly fine.
However, if the employee was automatically punished without due process this would be considered automated decision making.
Without the discretion of a human being, there’s a significant risk that an employee will be unfairly punished—a coworker could have been using their login, the website may have been incorrectly identified as inappropriate, or malware could have forced the employee to visit the inappropriate website.
As there’d be no way of knowing for certain without manual review, the best practice is to use appropriate discretion when interpreting an employee’s computer activity data.
Computer activity data can contain sensitive details about employees. Organizations need to ensure that security measures are in place to prevent their employee’s data from being misused or leaked to unauthorized parties.
Something as simple as an employee’s web browsing history can reveal information about their personal life such as health status, religion, and ethnicity. Even if an employee uses the computer for strictly work-related purposes, their activity data needs to be protected against access from unauthorized parties.
For example, without some form of access control in place, anyone from within the company could access an employee’s data and form negative biases against them. These biases could then influence their day-to-day interactions with the employee.
The decision to monitor employees should not be taken lightly.
While procurement will be fairly standard, the nature of employee tracking software is different than that of most programs that are used in the workplace. Companies that intend to monitor employees will benefit from having buy-in from human resources, managers, and employees alike.
Even if you are in a position where you can simply purchase your desired employee tracking software, install it on your employee’s computers, and call it a day, you may want to consider taking a less top-down approach.
When you take a top-down approach to employee monitoring you risk having employees think the worst:
Besides, small businesses and large enterprises alike will have key stakeholders that will be affected by business decisions. These stakeholders need to support the direction the business is heading, and the best way to do that is by involving them in the process and presenting your desired solution in the best way possible.
In this section, I will break down the steps you can take to mitigate these negative perceptions, demonstrate the value of employee tracking software to your key stakeholders, and increase buy-in for monitoring employees in the workplace.
Employee tracking software shouldn’t be used haphazardly. You need a clear understanding of what your organization’s goals are and how monitoring employees will help meet those goals.
What is the most critical business pain point the employee tracking software will address? If you want business leaders to buy into your proposed solution you need to be prepared to clearly describe the challenge and the solution.
Start by answering these three questions
If you’re not 100% clear on this yourself, there’s no way that you’ll be able to convince anyone else.
Shady Maple found CurrentWare during a significant period of growth in their company. As they grew they quickly realized that manually checking employee internet browsing history wasn’t a scalable solution for enforcing their acceptable use policy.
So, from Shady Maple’s POV
It’s essential to have a definitive use case for employee tracking software. Without one, you risk monitoring more than necessary, frustrating employees, and not getting optimal benefits from your chosen solution.
There are also logistical considerations for employee monitoring
At this stage, you know the benefits of introducing employee monitoring to your company, but you need to be prepared to get everyone else on board too.
As a change agent in your organization, you need to come prepared with all of the relevant information that your stakeholders will want to know.
By having thought-out answers to these questions ahead of time you will set yourself up for success when it comes time to propose your solution.
So far you’ve felt empowered to identify and promote the need for change in your organization. Now that you have a clear understanding of how employee tracking software will be used, it’s time to get the other business leaders on board.
This stage of the process is going to be very ROI-driven. Discuss the benefits of monitoring employees, how those benefits compare to the financial costs and the potential impact on the employee experience, and the steps that will be taken to mitigate these risks.
Here’s what you’ll need to support your pitch
Don’t just tell employees that organizational changes are coming — get their opinion.
The decision to monitor employee computer activity should be taken far more seriously than most other software purchases. Depending on the perspective of individual employees the monitoring may very well have a tangible impact on their wellbeing, particularly if they use workplace computers for personal tasks.
Worst yet, if your employees don’t understand why these changes are happening it leaves room for speculation.
Some organizations use employee tracking software to micromanage their employees, exert a “Big Brother is watching you” style of workplace surveillance, and monitor their computer activities so they can snoop on them.
This history of unethical behavior has caused some employees to feel that tracking software is a disciplinary technology rather than a workforce analytics tool.
If your intentions aren’t immediately clear they may assume this is your goal. A lack of transparency risks breeding resentment, increasing levels of anxiety, and (ironically) harming employee productivity.
By consulting with your employees before deploying employee tracking software you can hear their concerns, demonstrate how workplace monitoring will benefit employees, and reassure them that they will be monitored in a way that is in their best interests.
How to involve employees in the decision process
Now that you’ve identified the use case for employee tracking software in your company, received buy-in from business leaders, and consulted with your employees, it’s time to choose the specific software vendor you’ll be working with.
Start by creating a weighted matrix of business requirements that will be used to evaluate each vendor and their monitoring software.
What you include in this matrix will be specific to the needs of your business
For more information, check out this article by SoftwareAdvice.com; it includes more information on evaluating software vendors and a handy software comparison chart template.
With your business requirements identified, you’re now prepared to research some of the top solutions for your organization.
Start by searching for keywords such as “the best employee monitoring software”, “internet monitoring software”, and “computer monitoring software” to find employee and computer monitoring software vendors and independent review platforms.
Look for these key offerings from your vendors
With your master list of viable options in hand, it’s time to create a shortlist of the best employee tracking software vendors based on the weighted scores you assigned earlier.
You should ideally refine this list down to the top 3-5 vendors to make the final evaluation process as efficient as possible.
If you have otherwise strong candidates that aren’t making your shortlist out due to financial constraints, consider reaching out to them and renegotiating. While most technology decisions shouldn’t just be based on the lowest bid, you’ll need to consider how well the vendor fits with your budget if you want to get your purchase requests authorized.
How to get discounts on employee tracking software
Next, take your shortlist of vendors and test out a free trial of their software. Evaluate how intuitive they are to use, the value provided by the reports, how well the software performs in your environment, and your overall impression of the product.
Depending on the software procurement process of your organization, you may need to (once again) get buy-in from the relevant influencers in your organization.
Fortunately, you’re now in the optimal position to justify why the vendor(s) you selected are the best choice.
At this stage, you’ll present your top solutions with examples of positive reviews, relevant case studies, associated costs, ease of implementation, support and training, or other details that matter to each stakeholder.
Now that you’ve found the desired monitoring software, it’s time to see how well your employees respond to being monitored in the workplace. There’s no better way to confirm that employee monitoring is right for your organization than a personalized case study.
At this stage, you will be establishing an in-house focus group that will demonstrate how the monitoring software will be used at scale. This small-scale experiment will help you collect valuable feedback from the people who will be using the employee tracking software day-to-day: Employees, software administrators, and managers.
As the program progresses, you’ll want to find out…
A successful pilot program is a valuable internal case study that will help sell the rest of your employees on the solution. This phased approach to implementing the monitoring software will provide non-monitored employees with a preview of the benefits that the monitoring can have.
Now that you’ve tried monitoring employees in the workplace, it’s time to evaluate its impact on your organization. At this stage, you will be collecting and reviewing valuable feedback that will be used to adjust the final deployment.
Start by meeting with the team leaders. Get a sense of how insightful the data was, how the use of employee tracking software influenced their team’s workflow, and any feedback they might have about the software you are evaluating.
One of the greatest concerns of employees is how monitoring will affect their autonomy. While the collecting of employee feedback isn’t required, involving them in the early planning stages is an excellent way of ensuring that your use of monitoring software is well received.
With your sample data in hand, it’s time to get a feel for how well received the pilot program was. Create a feedback system that allows your employees to provide open and honest feedback about what worked, what didn’t work, and what can be improved.
Make note of the insights gained from the reports and any feedback you’ve received from employees. Use this feedback to inform how the final deployment will be configured. Make adjustments where you can to resolve any significant pain points.
By following these guidelines you can maximize buy-in when you introduce employee tracking software to your organization. If you’d like to learn more about the best practices for monitoring employees in the workplace you’ll find these other resources extremely valuable.
Ready to start monitoring employees? Get started with a FREE trial of BrowseReporter, CurrentWare’s employee tracking software.
This in-depth guide provides an employee monitoring software buyers guide, tips for creating an effective employee monitoring strategy, and legal considerations for employee monitoring.
A free internet usage template for you to download, customize, and use. Disclose the use of employee monitoring software in your organization and set standards for internet use.
A free white paper that employers can use to develop a privacy-first employee monitoring strategy.
Guidelines surrounding the legality of monitoring employees in the workplace.
Want to start monitoring employees in the workplace? These tips will reduce impacts on employee privacy so employers can maximize the benefits of their employee monitoring strategy.