Monitoring employees can be one of the best ways to keep track of hours, ensure productivity rates, and monitor how much time is going to specific projects and clients.
That is, it can be beneficial if it’s done correctly.
When it comes to employee monitoring, there are obviously privacy concerns involved. Employees may wonder what you are monitoring, whether or not you are monitoring with their consent, and when you are monitoring their activity.
These are valid concerns, and that’s why it’s important to use an employee monitoring system that offers complete transparency and privacy.
In this post, we’ll talk about some of the pros and cons of employee monitoring as well as the best tools for employee monitoring, so you never have to deal with a moral dilemma when trying to increase productivity rates.
Pros of employee monitoring
Let’s start with all the reasons why employee monitoring can be advantageous to your organization.
1. It keeps things fair
There are certain challenges that come with hiring people that don’t work in the same location as you.
It’s difficult to know when they come to work. It’s hard to know if they are working.
On the flip side, employees may have a hard time explaining why they are invoicing you and that a project really did take them a certain amount of time to complete.
When you use a time tracking device along with an employee monitoring software, it keeps things fair.
Employers have a reliable way to see when employees clocked in, how much they worked, how long a specific project took an employee to complete, and what apps and websites the employee used to complete various projects.
Similarly, it helps the employees out. Instead of having to explain every hour in great detail, employees can simply direct their employers attention to the employee monitoring system.
This will give employers insights into exactly what the employee was doing without the employee having to defend themselves.
An employee monitoring system is just one way to make sure everyone involved in a project—no matter where they are located in the world—is on the same page.
2. It helps you track productivity rates
It’s difficult to know how productive your teams are if you don’t have any way to monitor their productivity.
When push comes to shove, guessing just won’t do the trick. And, when you don’t have a good handle on your productivity rates, it’s easy to bleed money.
With the help of an employee monitoring software, you can get daily and weekly reports with hours, websites and application usage, task and client breakdowns, and more.
These insights allow you to identify productivity weaknesses and make improvements. Not to mention, employees get the their own time usage stats and quickly self-correct time wasting behavior.
Regardless of whether or not you have remote employees, investing in an employee monitoring software, that tracks time and what your employees are doing with that time, will help you cut costs, identify time wasters, and increase productivity across the board.
3. It creates a positive standard for what’s appropriate at the workplace
Depending on your onboarding process, you may or may not have already established what work computers can be used for and what they cannot be used for.
You may also even have firewalls that block certain apps and websites.
However, when it comes to remote employees, it’s a little more difficult to justify blocking certain websites, especially if you aren’t providing a company computer.
However, if remote employees are on the clock, you can one-hundred percent expect them only to log time when they are working and not to visit unapproved websites and apps when they are “on the clock.”
But how do you monitor this?
That’s right, you invest in an employee monitoring system.
With the help of an employee monitoring system, you can see which apps and websites your employees are using while they are clocked in.
If you find out they are visiting gaming or social media sites for unapproved leisure time, you can talk to the employee and remind them what is acceptable and what is not.
You may also find that employees are visiting sites that aren’t necessarily unapproved…like certain blogs or news outlets…but may not be the best use of company time.
When you have the ability to monitor your employees’ web usage, it’s easier to identify what is and isn’t appropriate and set better standards of behavior.
4. It highlights trustworthy employees and shines a light on terrible ones
It would be awesome if every employer had complete faith and trust in all employees. However, it doesn’t work that way.
Employees have to earn trust and also show quality of work and high productivity rates.
An employee monitoring software will provide evidence of how hard good employees are working. It will show you when certain employees are going above and beyond for your clients, reaching deadlines with ease, and working more productively than other team mates.
When you know who these employees are, you can reward them for their diligence. This could be with bonuses, raises, and promotions.
Additionally, when you have data on productive employees, you can see what they are doing that is so effective, and find ways to teach other employees how to replicate that behavior.
That way, not only are you rewarding good employees, but you are also finding ways to increase the productivity rates of employees that are on the fence.
Finally, being able to monitor employees lets you know when employees are being dishonest or lazy. With data on their behavior, you can approach them and set a plan in motion to get them back on course.
If they don’t respond well, you also have data that shows exactly why you are letting that particular employee go.
In some cases, an employee may not necessarily be dishonest or lazy, but they may just be taking way too long to complete a task or not using tools correctly or efficiently.
With employee monitoring software, you can identify these inefficiencies and train employees on how to work more effectively.
5. It can protect your firm against litigation
Let’s say you entered into a contract to pay a freelancer a certain amount of money for a specific hourly rate. Then, let’s say you get your deliverable and the hourly rate, and it just doesn’t make sense.
Upon looking at the deliverable and the invoice, you can’t seem to understand how that particular freelancer charged you such an astronomical rate.
With an employee monitoring software, you can go back and track exactly when the employee was working and how they were spending their time.
If you find that the employee was reading the news, playing games, and visiting unapproved sites during the times they were billing you, you can revisit the invoice and pay them for actual hours worked.
In the event the freelancer comes back with the threat of a lawsuit, you have all the evidence you need to protect you from litigation. It will be difficult for the freelancer to explain away hours and hours of billables that include them playing games and shopping online.
Of course, this is an extreme situation. Most freelancers will be honest with their billable hours.
If they aren’t honest, most will not pursue legal action when you present them with evidence of how they spent their time. In some cases, some freelancers may not even realize they billed you for time they weren’t working.
Time tracking and employee monitoring software can simply help bring this to their attention and the employee can fix the invoice themselves.
6. Ensure a streamline standard of conduct
When talking about employee monitoring, it’s easy to think of how it applies to the people you hired. However, employee monitoring applies to everyone that’s an employee.
That means the people you hired, you, your executive leadership, and everyone at your company.
When everyone at your company is being monitored, it’s much easier for everyone to accept employee monitoring as the standard. It won’t feel like “spying” or a double standard when even your CEO has installed the employee monitoring software on their desktop.
If you’re looking to create a streamlined standard of conduct, you will want to consider making sure everyone in your company is set up with employee monitoring.
Then, take the time to create reports and share them with everyone on your teams. This will enable everyone in the organization to see productivity rates across the board.
This will do a couple great things for your organization.
First, it will allow everyone to feel a sense of equality. Even the single freelance developer in India you hire will know what is going on at company headquarters and vice versa.
Second, it will allow you to point out excellent work ethic. Let’s say that same developer in India is producing amazing results at a faster rate than any of your other developer. When you share this report, you can highlight what this particular developer is doing and this developer can even share strategies for completing more work efficiently.
You can use it to toot their horn and you can even reward them outright with a bonus that everyone knows about.
Cons of employee monitoring
Now that we’ve talked about the main advantages of employee monitoring, it’s important to point out some of the disadvantages of employee monitoring.
1. Moral dilemma of employee monitoring
Any time you install software to monitor employees, you have to deal with potential privacy concerns.
In no case is it acceptable to spy on employees or to monitor their computer activity without their consent.
If you are using any type of software that monitors employee activity without the employee knowing, then it’s time to stop and use a software that offers full transparency.
To avoid any problems with privacy and security, you must get consent from all employees.
In fact, the best way to do this is to have the employee sign a form agreeing to employee monitoring, and then have the employee download and install the software themselves.
Additionally, you’ll want to provide the employee with a login so they can view their productivity rates, see reports, and also get insights into how much time each project is taking and where and how they are using apps and websites to complete their work.
If employee monitoring software is used as a productivity tool instead of a “spying” device, it will be just that—a helpful tool—rather than a “big brother” type of monitoring device employees are not comfortable with.
2. The trust concern of employee monitoring
When you tell your employees you will be using a software to monitor their work, it can automatically make them feel like a criminal or like you don’t trust them.
No one wants to feel like this when entering a new business partnership.
You can combat this concern with how you present the employee monitoring software.
First of all, let them know that it’s standard policy for your company to use employee monitoring software and that even you and every member of the leadership team uses the software.
This way, the employee will know that you don’t distrust them. Rather, you have a streamlined policy that even the higher ups at the company must follow.
Second, present the employee monitoring software as a productivity tool that protects both the company and the employee, as opposed to a “monitoring” software.
When employees understand the complete functionality of a monitoring software, they know it’s used to track time, identify waste, increase productivity, handle invoicing, and more.
Employee monitoring doesn’t mean you distrust your employees. It means you want to increase productivity rates across the board.
As you can see, there are several pros of a few cons of employee monitoring software. If you are completely transparent, however, with your approach, you’ll find employee monitoring software only works to serve you and your employees.
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