Employee monitoring is a form of workplace surveillance where employers collect data regarding their employees’ computer usage, location, and productivity.
This guide will detail the various methods that employers use for monitoring employees in the workplace, the pros and cons of employee monitoring, and provide helpful resources for creating your very own employee monitoring strategy.
Employers use employee monitoring software to the benefit of employers and employees alike. Here are the top reasons that employers monitor employees in the workplace.
The 2007 Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey from the American Management Association (AMA) found that 66% of employers monitor employee internet use. 65% of those surveyed also use web filtering software to block websites.
Employers primarily monitor and restrict internet access to prevent employees from accessing inappropriate or dangerous websites, though these tools are also used to improve productivity by restricting the use of unproductive websites.
Tracking how much time an employee is idle or browsing unproductive websites also provides companies with insights into employee engagement, allowing them to optimize how technology is used by both remote and in-office employees.
Why do employers use internet activity tracking?
Computer usage monitoring is a catch-all term for monitoring computer events such as application use, USB activity, websites visited, screenshots, and logon activity. 94% of organizations use some form of computer usage monitoring to improve productivity and security.
Why do businesses monitor employee computer activity?
43% of employers in the American Management Association report monitor the email activity of their employees. Email monitoring is typically done with automated tools that scan for keywords, though 40% of the employers in the report stated they use manual email monitoring methods.
Why do employers monitor employee emails?
GPS and other forms of location tracking are a niche form of employee monitoring that is not as widely used as computer usage tracking. The use of location tracking is often reserved for roles where frequent travel is required. Employers will often use location tracking on company-provided vehicles and mobile devices.
Why do employers use GPS tracking?
Keystroke logging (keylogging) is a highly controversial employee monitoring practice. Keyloggers track the individual keyboard inputs of employees and save that data for review. Keyloggers may be hardware or software-based.
As these employee monitoring software tools capture individual keystrokes they pose significant security and privacy concerns. They are likely to capture sensitive information including passwords, credit card details, and other sensitive information.
Storing sensitive information within the database of a keylogger is dangerous as unauthorized users or hackers could potentially access that information. For this reason, they are rarely used.
Why do employers use keyloggers?
Video surveillance is commonly performed through closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems. These technologies are commonly used as security systems rather than for measuring productivity. It is common for companies that interact with the public to use video surveillance in locations where there are concerns surrounding the security of employees and theft of company assets.
Why do employers use video surveillance?
Employee telephone monitoring is most often used to monitor the performance of phone-based customer support roles. Calls are often recorded to investigate complaints, assist in employee training, and ensure that employees are adhering to the quality standards of the organization.
Why do employers monitor phone calls?
Ready to start monitoring employees in the workplace? BrowseReporter is a versatile employee computer activity monitoring software for monitoring internet and application usage. In this video, you will learn how to monitor employee computer activity with BrowseReporter.
This section will outline the pros and cons of using employee monitoring software to monitor your employees. For more details, check out The Pros and Cons of Employee Monitoring.
The 2017 State of the American Workplace report from Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. between $483 billion to $605 billion each year in lost productivity. By tracking employees an organization can discover early warning signs of disengagement such as excessive unproductive web browsing.
Underutilized software cost businesses in the US and UK an estimated $34 billion per year. Employee monitoring software detects redundant or underutilized software that can be decommissioned or consolidated.
The historical information that is captured by employee monitoring software helps businesses understand productivity and engagement trends throughout their workforce. With this information, they can answer questions they may otherwise not have enough insight for.
Shadow IT refers to any system, solution, or software that’s used without approval from the IT department. Gartner has predicted that by 2020 a third of successful attacks on enterprises would be made possible by shadow IT exploits. Monitoring employee computer usage provides greater visibility into the use of shadow IT.
Organizations that collect, process, and/or store sensitive information are responsible for the security and integrity of it. Employee monitoring software is regularly used in regulated industries such as healthcare, finance, and defense to maintain data security compliance.
According to a Verizon report 58% of data loss events in healthcare involve insiders, making insider threats the greatest cybersecurity threat in that industry. Monitoring activity on egress points such as USB storage devices and file sharing websites is crucial for detecting incidents of data theft and unsafe data handling.
Internet abuse in the workplace presents a significant risk if left unaddressed. Employees that visit hateful, pornographic, or otherwise harmful websites while at work create a hostile work environment for their coworkers. Failure to monitor for and address this type of behavior undermines organizational performance and creates serious legal liabilities for employers.
While internet use policies set standards for internet use in the workplace, without employee monitoring software employers risk being unable to detect and deter egregious web browsing.
A 2003 study by Dr. Kimberly S. Young & Dr. Carl J. Case found that among large firms, electronic monitoring software was rated as the most effective deterrent of inappropriate web use, followed by policies and training.
Employee monitoring software is a valuable tool to monitor your employees, but even the best employee monitoring software has potential downsides. Before you monitor your employees you should cosndier both the benefits and the concerns your employees may have.
Overly invasive employee monitoring practices such as stealth monitoring, keystroke logging, and monitoring non-work web browsing can have a negative effect on employee morale.
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.
Fairness is essential when monitoring employees in the workplace. Ensuring that their employees retain their autonomy when being monitored will go a long way to reducing the potential effects on morale.
To reduce the effect that employee monitoring software could have on employee morale, employers should make monitoring a standard workplace policy rather than singling out individual employees. They should also avoid using employee monitoring as a micromanaging tool.
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Employee monitoring data has the potential to be incredibly sensitive. Many employees worry that their data will be misused or accessed by unauthorized parties.
When monitoring employees in the workplace, employers need to treat the data that is collected by employee monitoring software the same way they would any other sensitive data, providing it with equal protections such as restricting who can access the data and keeping it within a secured network.
Depending on the types of monitoring taking place employees may also worry that their personal lives are being monitored. Employers must do everything they can to limit monitoring to only what is necessary and keep their monitoring solutions separate from the personal lives of their employees.
How to Reduce the Privacy Impacts of Employee Monitoring Software:
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In the majority of jurisdictions, it is legal for employers to monitor employee activity on company-provided devices. That said, data privacy frameworks such as GDPR mandate that employers use monitoring methods and tracking tools that are as minimally invasive as possible to meet the needs of their business.
To avoid legal issues, businesses that want to start tracking their employees must consult with a legal professional to ensure that their intended methods are not in conflict with any laws and regulations.
Get started today—Download the FREE template and customize it to fit the needs of your organization.
“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
Employers that want to monitor use employee monitoring software to employee computer activity should notify their employees. Many companies will start by using acceptable use policies to disclose their intent to monitor. Combining company policies with other notification measures will help keep employees informed.
When employers openly discuss their intention to deploy employee monitoring software, employees are given an opportunity to engage in a dialogue where they can preemptively express their concerns and become educated on the employer’s intended use of the data collected.
“Employers must not use tech to control and micromanage their staff. Monitoring toilet breaks, tracking, and snooping on staff outside working hours creates fear and distrust. And it undermines morale.”
The best employee monitoring software can provide detailed reports on employee productivity, but it can also track details that many employees will find sensitive in nature. By limiting monitoring to general technology usage such as web browsing on work-related systems you can reduce the privacy impacts on employees.
If employee tracking software is being used to assess employee productivity it’s essential that this data is used fairly and transparently. If one employee is reprimanded for social media usage while another isn’t your employees will come to resent the employee monitoring software.
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Employee Monitoring: Best Practices for Balancing Productivity, Security, and Privacy
In today's privacy-conscious world employers need to monitor employees in a way that is transparent, minimally invasive, and respectful of employee privacy. Read this white paper to learn the best practices for monitoring employees in the workplace.
Are you ready to take charge of your organization’s productivity and security? CurrentWare is here to help. Contact our sales team to sign up for a free trial of our employee monitoring software and see first-hand how employee monitoring can transform your workplace.
“The employees find the reports to be an extremely helpful self-analysis tool, and use the reports to analyze and reconfigure priorities!”
CurrentWare’s BrowseReporter is the best employee monitoring software for tracking employee internet use. It includes detailed reports that are easy to understand. BrowseReporter tracks idle time separately and filters out background resources such as CDNs, letting you easily track how productive your employees are.
BrowseReporter’s screen capture features take automatic screenshots of your employee’s computer. These screenshots complement the detailed reports with a static recording of what the user was doing on their computer.
For tracking computers on your local area network, BrowseReporter also includes a remote screen capture feature, giving you a live video feed of your employee’s computer.
With BrowseReporter’s application usage tracking feature you can keep track of what applications are being used on your employee’s computer. These reports are a valuable tool for detecting shadow IT and ensuring that unproductive apps aren’t being used during work hours.
Streaming a 4K Ultra HD Netflix video consumes 7GB of data per hour. Employees that misuse the internet in their workplace aren’t only harming their own productivity, they also strain the available bandwidth and make network speeds slower for their coworkers.
BrowseReporter’s bandwidth monitoring reports are a valuable tool for detecting inappropriate internet usage in the workplace and diagnosing network latency issues. Use BrowseReporter’s bandwidth monitor to check bandwidth usage for trends that indicate the misuse of technology in the workplace and suspicious network activity.
When employees work from home it can be difficult to keep track of their productivity.
With BrowseReporter’s remote employee productivity reports, you can get a high-level overview of how much time is spent on work-related websites when an employee is remote vs when they are working in the office.
A search engine employee monitoring tool like BrowseReporter helps companies to understand what their employees are searching for during work hours. At a glance, you can see if they are searching for ways to use social media, if they are struggling with a task, or if they are searching for inappropriate content that could harm your business.
Portable storage devices are a convenient piece of technology for sharing files, but they also pose a serious data security risk. AccessPatrol is an employee monitoring tool that blocks USBs and monitors file transfers to portable storage devices. Tools like AccessPatrol prevent data theft by recording file transfers and USB device usage and real-time alerting a designated user when high-risk file transfers are detected.
The Ultimate Guide to Employee Monitoring
This in-depth guide provides an employee monitoring software buyers guide, tips for creating an effective employee monitoring strategy, and legal considerations for using employee monitoring software.
This article has the tips you need to get started with writing your own employee monitoring policy. We’ll also provide you with a FREE workplace monitoring policy template that you can download and customize to fit your needs.
Free Internet Usage Policy Template
A free employee 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.
Workplace Privacy and Employee Monitoring: Best Practices (White Paper)
A free white paper that employers can use to develop a privacy-first employee monitoring strategy. It includes tips for reducing the privacy impacts of employee monitoring software, the role of employee monitoring software, employee monitoring software case studies, and how to choose the best employee monitoring software
SHRM: Managing Workplace Monitoring and Surveillance
Guidelines surrounding the legality of monitoring employees in the workplace.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
A valuable resource for researching and understanding Europe’s data privacy law.
Monitoring Employees in the Workplace: 6 Privacy Tips for Employers
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.
How To Use Employee Monitoring Data
Employee monitoring is a powerful workforce analytics tool. Beyond improving individual employee productivity, tools like BrowseReporter can provide valuable insights into how your workforce operates. This article provides examples of how companies can use employee monitoring data to improve their business intelligence.