Curious about the various types of employee monitoring solutions?
In this article, we’ll go through everything you need to know about monitoring your employees. We’ll talk about the pros and cons of employee monitoring and then look at 5 different types of employee monitoring.
This Article Contains:
- Video Surveillance
- Network And Email Monitoring
- Keycards And Biometric Terminals
- GPS Tracking
- Employee Monitoring Software
Let’s jump right in.
The 4 Benefits Of Employee Monitoring
These sections are for readers who are unfamiliar with the benefits of employee monitoring.If you want to skip ahead to the section on the various monitoring types, click here.
Many employers monitor employee activity to keep their staff focused and improve productivity.
Sure, employee monitoring isn’t easy to carry out — there are many rules and regulations you’ll have to follow while doing it. However, the various benefits of monitoring your employees make the effort worth it.
Here’s a closer look at the 4 ways your business can benefit from employee monitoring:
1. Reduced wasted time
Most employees waste time during their work hours.
This can happen due to various factors, such as social media or other coworkers.
While being distracted during the workday is normal, the problem lies in paying your employees for that wasted time. Not only that, but all that wasted time also eats away at your organization’s productivity — reducing the money you bring in.
However, when employees know they’re being monitored, they won’t waste as much time. This, in turn, helps you pay them only for actual work and also increase your company’s overall productivity.
2. Increased Transparency
Managing employees comes with a fair share of challenges.
Most of the time, you won’t know:
- When your employees start their work.
- If they’re actually working or wasting time on social media.
- How long they spent on project management and other tools like Slack or Google Drive.
This can affect employees too — as they can struggle to justify why a specific task took longer than other tasks. But with a solid employee monitoring system, you can overcome most of these issues.
- What time your employees started work.
- How much time they spent on tasks.
- Which tasks they worked on.
- Which websites and apps they accessed.
This will help your employees too, as you’ll have a clear record of everything they did while at work. So they won’t have to justify why specific tasks took them so long and prove that they weren’t wasting time.
3. Better Insights Into Employee Performance
Monitoring your employees doesn’t just help you keep them focused on work.
Keeping track of your team’s workplace behavior gives you access to a lot of information that may have been previously unavailable.
You can use this data to tackle idle time, inappropriate conduct and data security in the workplace. But more importantly, it helps you identify how productive each employee is. This way, you’ll be able to differentiate your best-performing employees from the rest.
You can then reward well-performing employees and help your underperforming team members with what they need to overcome their productivity slump.
4. No More Micromanaging and Constant Supervision
Nobody likes to be micromanaged.
Which is why it often causes employee morale to plummet.
However, without a proper employee monitoring solution, you’ll have to constantly supervise your employees to know what they’re up to. This can eventually lead to micromanagement.
Instead, with a comprehensive employee monitoring system, you’ll always know what your employees are up to — without resorting to micromanagement.
You can use the time you’d typically spend on supervision to do more productive things, like project planning or training your employees.
The 2 Drawbacks Of Employee Monitoring
Workplace monitoring can offer a ton of benefits, but it also has a few drawbacks you’ve to pay attention to.
Here are two such things to consider before investing in an employee monitoring system:
1. Legal Issues
Monitoring your employees’ work and computer activity is crucial to ensure that they stay focused on their work.
But there’s always a limit.
Ensure that whatever system you use to monitor employees is considered legal according to your state laws.
In New York, it’s illegal for employers to record phone calls without the consent of at least one party. But in California, in order to intercept any form of communication between an employee and a third-party, the employer must obtain consent from both parties.
You also have federal laws like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) that prevent you from monitoring your employees’ workplace communication without their consent. If you’re based in the EU, you’ll have to follow the strict guidelines laid down by the GDPR.
This is why it’s essential to get your employees’ consent before using a monitoring system.
2. Privacy Concerns
Why do employees hate employee monitoring systems so much?
It’s because they feel like their privacy is being violated.
Employees who feel like they’re being monitored unfairly can experience drops in morale. This is especially common among those who are experiencing monitoring for the first time.
As a result, employers must avoid using intrusive methods to monitor employees.
Here are some intrusive employee tracking tools you should avoid:
A. Keystroke Logging
Keyloggers are programs that track every keystroke on a computer. These can be dangerous as it can log sensitive information like passwords.
B. Stealth Monitoring
Stealth monitoring is used by employers to track what employees are doing on their company computers without the employee’s knowledge. This is considered an unethical monitoring policy and may be illegal in certain regions.
C. Screen Recording
Screen recording is the act of recording an employee’s screen.
Screen recording is different from screenshots as screenshots are only taken occasionally, while screen recording happens full-time. This is considered unethical and a breach of trust by many employees.
To be safe, always obtain consent from your employees for everything you monitor. Never monitor employees outside of their work hours and always use non-intrusive monitoring systems and you’ll be fine.
The 5 Types of Employee Monitoring Solutions
Let’s now take a look at five methods you can use to monitor your employees during their work hours:
1. Video Surveillance
CCTV cameras are commonplace in almost every workplace today, and many employers use them to prevent misbehavior and for safety reasons.
While CCTV cameras can show you whether your employees are at their workstations, it doesn’t help you recognize if they’re productive or not.
However, it’s important to note that some countries require businesses to install video surveillance systems to assist their workplace safety measures better.
If you decide to install a video surveillance system, ensure that it doesn’t directly capture your employees’ computer screens as it could be a violation of their workplace privacy.
Instead, focus those systems on helping you identify any visible misbehavior or potential security issues in the workplace.
Also, remember that you should only install cameras in common work areas — installing cameras in private areas like washrooms is almost always illegal.
2. Network And Email Monitoring
Network and email monitoring is a more direct way of monitoring employees.
Here’s how they help you keep tabs on your employees:
A. Network Monitoring
Network monitoring is a process that involves analyzing all the incoming and outgoing traffic from your office network.
A network monitoring system can monitor malicious programs, infected workstations and even unusual internet usage in your organization.
You can also check if your employees are accessing unproductive sites, like social media, during work.
B. Email Monitoring
Work email addresses are meant only for official or work-related purposes.
If you’re an employee, your office IT team/administrator usually has complete control over your email inbox. So employees are heavily discouraged from using their work email account for personal purposes.
The only valid reason to use email monitoring at work is to check if employees are using it to send out private email messages.
However, there are better ways to prevent workers from misusing an employee email address. For example, instead of monitoring your employees’ emails, just use a filter that’ll block non-work emails from reaching the staff’s inboxes.
3. Keycards And Biometric Terminals
Here’s how keycards and biometric terminals can help monitor employees:
Keycards are used by many companies, especially those with high security levels to protect trade secrets.
Each keycard is linked to its owner, which means you can set individual security settings for each employee.
Keycards are mostly used to restrict employees from accessing unauthorized locations within the office. For example, every access point in your office will have a keycard sensor that only allows people carrying authorized keycards to enter.
Keycards can also be used to monitor employee attendance and track the physical location of employees within the office premises.
However, keycards can’t show you whether your employees are actually tending to their work or just idling at their workstations.
B. Biometric Terminals
Biometric terminals are great for companies that demand very high levels of security. These systems have either fingerprint or iris scanners on doors that lead to restricted areas.
They’re better than keycards at security since they’re less susceptible to data breaches and theft. However, you can only use them to keep employees out of restricted areas.
4. GPS Tracking
Do you have employees that regularly go out to the field as part of their job?
You can’t use video surveillance and computer monitoring then, right?
GPS tracking helps businesses keep track of employees who are always out on the field —like construction engineers or delivery drivers.
But there are certain limitations when it comes to GPS tracking.
For example, while you can always fit a tracker to a company vehicle to see its location in real-time, you can’t always force employees to download tracking apps on their personal smartphones.
For employees who don’t use a company vehicle to go out into the field, you’ll have to provide a work phone that’ll help you track them when they’re out of office during work hours.
However, don’t forget to let your employees know that they’re being tracked through their office devices.
5. Employee Monitoring Software
Employee monitoring and productivity software is the most widely used method to keep track of your employees today.
They provide the most direct employee monitoring experience compared to the other four methods.
They’re also the least invasive way to monitor your employees — and can be used by in-office and remote teams!
Most employee monitoring tools offer various features like time tracking, distraction management and systems to differentiate productive and unproductive activity.
Time Doctor is one such productivity tracking software that can help you keep track of your in-house or remote employees with ease.
But what is Time Doctor?
Time Doctor is a popular time tracking and employee productivity tool that helps you keep track of your employees and freelancers. Major companies like Verizon, Apple, PwC as well as SMBs, like Thrive Market, use it to skyrocket their staff’s productivity.
With Time Doctor, you can:
- Automate time tracking on tasks worked by your employees.
- Keep track of which apps and websites are accessed by employees during work hours.
- Ensure that your employees actively work on their tasks.
- Analyze how productive your employees are with reports produced in real-time.
Here are some key features of Time Doctor that’ll help you keep track of in-house and remote workers:
A. Simple Time Tracking
Time Doctor has a simple Time Tracking system — all you have to do is type in the task name and start the timer. It then runs quietly in the background tracking your activity. Once you’re done, just click on the same button to stop the timer.
As your employees control the timer, you automatically get their consent!
B. Built-In Inactivity Tracking
Time Doctor has a Built-In Inactivity Tracker that stops the timer when there’s no keyboard or mouse activity for three minutes. This prevents employees from idling around with the timer on.
Note: Time Doctor doesn’t track WHICH keys are pressed. It only checks if ANY keys were pressed — which ensures employee privacy.
C. Distraction Management System
If a user opens an unproductive website or app while the timer is running, Time Doctor’s intuitive Distraction Management system displays a pop-up asking the user if they’re still working or not. This usually helps employees get back on track.
D. Real-Time Reporting
Time Doctor gives you access to seven detailed reports regarding your employees’ performance. These reports cover things like employee attendance, which tasks they worked on, timesheets, what sites and apps they opened and more.
There are several types of employee monitoring systems you can use to track your employees’ activity in the workplace. Some of these methods may not be very effective, while others may be seen as too invasive.
Using an employee monitoring software like Time Doctor is the best option for any business, as it balances effectiveness and employee privacy. You can use it irrespective of if your team includes office workers or remote employees.
So why not try out Time Doctor today and start monitoring your employees the right way?
Liam Martin is a co-founder of Time Doctor—a time tracking and productivity monitoring software designed for tracking hours and productivity of remote teams.