Employee Monitoring: Is It Right For Your Business?

By Corey Shields | October 6, 2020
Corey is the Digital Marketing Manager at Ntiva, and brings with him over a decade of working in the information technology and services industry.

The words employee monitoring bring some negative thoughts to mind. Maybe thoughts of Big Brother immediately take over as you picture a company tiptoeing around while it spies on each employee’s every move. But this isn’t how it should be…

With employee monitoring, there’s a very fine line between spying on employees and encouraging them to stay productive. Getting it right isn’t always easy, but once you do, monitoring can have a lot of positive outcomes, both for the company as a whole and for each individual employee.

As long as you go about it the right way and carefully implement it, employee monitoring can be a very smart move.

<<Watch our webinar, "Employee Monitoring: Is it Right For Your Business?">>


Should I Monitor My Employees?

As the number of remote workers around the world grows, more companies than ever are asking themselves this exact question. In a remote workplace, a manager can’t check an employee’s cubicle to stay on top of things.

Even when people are coming into the office working on employee computers, it can be very hard to know whether or not employee productivity is on par with expectations.

In comes employee monitoring to save the day.

The overall goal of employee monitoring is to track and monitor how employees are spending their time and using company resources. Workers tend to shake in their boots when they hear they’re being monitored, worrying about social media and website visit tracking, but this isn't the kind of tracking we're talking about. We're talking about productivity and job efficiency!

It not only helps to boost productivity but also lets a company identify problem areas, limit distractions, reallocate resources, and even increase cybersecurity. So to answer the question above, it’s almost always yes, you should be monitoring your employees to some extent, but for the right reasons.


Employee Monitoring Works, If You're Doing it for the Right Reasons

Is monitoring employees acceptableThe main determining factor on whether or not it’s right for your business has a lot to do with your motives behind why you want to monitor in the first place.

If your reason for investing in an employee monitoring tool or software is to spy on or track employees, intrude in their personal lives, or catch them goofing off on a phone call or mobile apps, then no, this is not a solution for you.

Here are a few examples of good reasons to start monitoring the workplace:

  • Trying to find gaps in your business model that need improving
  • Moving your current monitoring model outside of the office to support remote work
  • Creating a baseline on how productivity should look for specific tasks

In short, employee monitoring can be an excellent management tool if you’re doing it for productivity reasons during work hours, but a not-so-good-thing if you just see it as a chance to spy, intrude, or catch someone in the act.


The Pros and Cons of Tracking Software

We’ve already mentioned a few of the pros to employee monitoring through tracking software and tools, like more motivation for employees to stay focused, but the benefits run much deeper than that.

The Pros

The first major benefit of monitoring employee activity is automated coaching, which is basically just a fancy way of saying that employees have a more streamlined method for receiving feedback on their performance.

Another pro is the ability of some employee monitoring tools to send out alerts. In a call center, maybe an employee is meant to make 20 calls per day, but they’ve only completed 8 for that day. Clearly, something is hindering performance, and by sending out an alert, it’s easier to figure out what that hindrance is and take the right steps to fix it.


Why monitor employees

Here are 5 more pros to implementing a more comprehensive employee monitoring plan:


  1. More transparency from a company leads to more honesty/openness from employees
  2. Data collected from monitoring can help reduce the risk of confirmation bias
  3. An improved hiring process for new employees and better morale for existing ones
  4. Lots of measurable benefits, and therefore a high ROI when implemented correctly
  5. Ability to provide hard evidence if the company is ever faced with legal issues


The Cons

Most of the potential cons only happen if you implement the monitoring system in the wrong way or fail to disclose all the info to employees.

A lack of transparency about your monitoring could end up backfiring and make your employees feel like they’ve traveled back to 1984, especially if you use tactics like keystroke logging without disclosing it.

This “Big Brother” mentality could offset your ROI and prevent you from seeing the results you’re hoping for.


Confusing Monitoring with Micromanaging

Some companies think that monitoring and micromanaging go hand in hand, but no matter how you swing it, micromanagement is never a good thing.

A micromanaged workplace tends to leave workers feeling frustrated, demotivated, and demoralized. Monitoring is not your ticket to micromanaging, and if you start using it that way, you’ll likely see morale driven down.

How to Successfully Implement Employee Monitoring Software

Because we’re moving towards a “work from anywhere” model that doesn’t necessarily mean “work from home”, monitoring is more important than ever.

That doesn’t mean that every monitoring system will look the same for every business. Not only will monitoring look different from company to company, but even from department to department.

It depends on the systems and user interfaces you’re monitoring, like Microsoft Teams vs phone systems vs CRMs. It also depends on what your monitoring goals are, like whether it’s specifically to improve the hiring process or move your current monitoring practices to better support remote working.

Whatever these things look like for you, just be smart about how you monitor and always have complete transparency with your employees. Every single employee should know what’s being monitored, for what amounts of time, and why. Try to decrease monitoring where it makes sense to communicate that you trust your employees and aren’t monitoring for the sole purpose of intruding.

The key takeaway here is that yes, employee monitoring is probably right for your business (as long as you have the right reasons for doing it) and that this isn’t a “one size fits all” sort of thing.


For more information on how to monitor the right way, check out our latest webinar with Chief Security Officer, Brian Brammeier!

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Tags: Cybersecurity