Money Matters: Workplace trend for 2022 — employee monitoring and analytics
Over one in four companies invested in technology to passively track and monitor their employees during the pandemic. It’s a controversial move, with employee privacy at the heart of the issue, but enough employees see the benefits that they are moving forward.
What does employee monitoring and analytics look like? Should you consider it for your business? How can you do it ethically? Read on to learn more about this tool, the steps you can take to do it ethically and how to decide if this is the right move for your company.
What does employee monitoring and analytics involve?
“Employee monitoring software has traditionally conjured up negative images of employee surveillance,” said Brian Turner, Stu Robarts and Barclay Ballard at http://techradar.com. “These days, however, it can be more about making sure the right people have access to the right software. The result is that some flavors of employee monitoring can be more like project management suites.”
What might that look like? A few popular employee monitoring softwares include SentryPC, iMonitorSoft and InterGuard. Here are some of the tasks those softwares can do collectively:
- Track and monitor user activity, including keystrokes, screenshots, document activities, online searches, downloads and more.
- Take screenshots when certain activities are detected.
- Block access to websites.
- Remotely disable a computer.
- Run remote desktops.
- Turn the monitored activity into searchable data that can generate alerts and reports.
As you can see, these softwares offer powerful features that can give you an in-depth look at how your employees use their time and how you can increase efficiency. However, these softwares offer some features that you may prefer not to use. In that case, many employee-monitoring softwares offer the option to turn certain features on or off, so you can pick and choose the ones you want to use or not.
Should you consider it?
With the serious privacy concerns that come with employee monitoring softwares, is getting it worth the benefits? It depends on what you need. Ask yourself these four questions to help you decide:
Is it legal? Employee monitoring of company-owned devices is legal in Utah, but the legal implications get a bit dicier when an employee uses his or her own device for work. This helpful article at parrbrown.com breaks down the legal considerations for bring-your-own-device policies.
Is it necessary? You may be able to set up systems that alert you to suspicious activity, which leads you to then investigate the relevant employee, rather than monitoring employees at all times to bolster security. Or you may be able to solve your productivity problems with communication and a policy change rather than monitoring software.
Will it negatively impact our culture? If the hallmark of your culture is trust and autonomy, surveillance may weaken that aspect of your culture, potentially even leading to your top employees leaving the organization.
Do we need a boost in productivity? “If productivity has become an issue and it’s clear that the underlying cause is improper use of electronics on company time, monitoring may be a reasonable solution,” according to http://matchr.com. “If implemented properly, monitoring electronics use may be a good way to strategically increase productivity.”
How do you conduct employee monitoring and analytics ethically?
Once you’ve determined that employee monitoring software is right for your organization, the next step is to implement it following ethical best practices. A good place to start is asking yourself the questions in the section above. Next, craft a specific statement of purpose that will benefit both the company and your employees.
As you go forward, follow these guidelines:
- Disclose the monitoring activity: Being totally transparent will help build a stronger team because your employees will know what to expect and better understand the importance of things like security policies and appropriate use of company time.
- Avoid surveillance or micromanagement: You could monitor almost every action your employees take, but a better option is to choose to monitor only those key behaviors that will help you meet your KPIs for the initiative.
- Respect employee privacy: Track only employee behavior that directly impacts your business and do so only during work hours.
- Be open to communication: Give your employees time to adapt to the new system and address any issues they bring up. Additionally, know that monitoring software only shows you a small piece of your employees’ performance. Don’t neglect the human element, including feedback from the employees and reports from managers.
Every step of the way, keep this advice from Adrian Swinscoe, author of “How to Wow: 68 Effortless Ways to Make Every Customer Experience Amazing,” in mind: “The introduction of any monitoring tools needs to have a value proposition for the employees at its heart. If the value proposition for the employee is not clearly mapped out, explained and agreed by both sides, then any use of monitoring tools will be seen as invasive or as surveillance.”
Today, employee monitoring and analytics softwares are powerful tools that can tell you almost anything about an employee’s behavior. Employee monitoring can improve productivity and security, but it may not be right for your business. If you choose to move ahead with it, be sure to follow best practices for ethical employee monitoring so both you and your employees will benefit.
Peter Ord is the founder of GuideCX, a client implementation and onboarding project platform based in Lehi, Utah.