Even though implementing employee monitoring software is all the rage these days, companies are still struggling with the pros and cons of it all.
While it increases employee productivity, facilitates performance reviewing, and establishes a fair working environment (aside from other things), the use of such software also raises the concern over the legal aspects of monitoring, employee privacy, and the (lack of) trust between employers and employees.
Let’s break down each one and see how both companies and workers can benefit from implementing monitoring software in their working environment.
The pros of monitoring Employees
Pro #1: Employee Productivity Increase
Employee monitoring software, by its nature, is designed to enable people to analyze their working habits, pinpoint the causes of downtime in their productivity, and find ways to increase it.
In that sense, having software that measures the number of words writers type in a minute, or the intensity and patterns with which designers move their mouse can tell them how fast they are working. And while the real measurement of productivity is not in how fast you type, but of what quality is the piece you’re writing, it can still measure how efficient you are in the workplace.
With the help of screen monitoring software, companies can able to get an insight into the amount of time workers spend on tasks that may not be included in their core or high-priority activities. With that knowledge, employees have a chance to reorganize their days to be more efficient, while companies are able to pinpoint stale processes or improper use of resources and optimize them for maximum effect.
Moreover, most of such software also has the project management feature integrated, allowing for optimal workload assignment, precise project progress following, and making timely adjustments in order to secure meeting deadlines and high quality of work.
Pro #2: Employee Reviewing Facilitation
Some companies find it difficult to monitor employees working from home without the use of specialized software.
When the time of performance evaluations comes, they aren’t sure whether to trust the showcased results and coworkers’ input.
For sure, those quarterly or biannual reviews can be very stressful for everyone, but that can be avoided by continuously gathering efficiency information that is completely unbiased.
Seeing that performance reviews often lead to changes in professional circumstances such as promotion or even demotion with a corresponding change in salary, or pedaling professional growth in a particular direction, such big decisions should not be made without having a clear image of a person’s work performance.
Moreover, remote employee monitoring can give a particularly well-rounded image regarding the skillset, affinities, predilections, etc. of the people who are not working together side by side every day. Therefore, objectively gathered and stored information is crucial for making fair employment decisions.
Pro #3: Fair Working Environment
Whether your company is working from an office or not, creating a fair professional environment is as important as maintaining it.
Though it’s easier for most managers to observe their employees’ working habits in person, that doesn’t always mean that they have the skills to act on them in a professional manner that doesn’t disturb the team atmosphere.
While employee monitoring software records it with precision down to a second, managers may not always take the same way when and how often their team members are late or early for work, for instance. However, rest assured that other employees do.
If unprofessional behavior becomes usual for certain employees, others will surely start to resent them, which will in turn make them drop their productivity levels. Disagreements between coworkers can lead to worsening not only the efficiency of the entire team, but can also negatively affect the whole company’s bottom line and brand image.
That’s why it’s crucial for managers and HR professionals to rely strictly on objective data and strive to build upon it a company culture where certain types of behavior simply are inexcusable while others are appropriately and timely rewarded.
The cons of monitoring Employees
Con #1: (Remote) Employee Monitoring Legality
Before purchasing and implementing monitoring software in their infrastructure, companies need to have a firm grasp on the legal aspect of keeping a close eye on their staff.
Many countries around the world simply forbid such practices, while others have more or less strict legislation that mandates what is allowed or not, as well as what is a must or a recommendation and under what conditions.
For example, in the US monitoring (remote) employees working on company equipment is allowed if companies notify employees and acquire their consent beforehand. What is more, in highly regulated industries like finance, healthcare or government institutions, employees’ personal emails are untrackable, but their professional correspondence needs to be archived safely in its original form for a prescribed amount of time under strict email compliance legislation.
In essence, companies need to ensure what they can monitor, why, and in what way, as well as how they can utilize the data and under what conditions. Since those factors differ from one country and industry to the next, consulting relevant legal documents is a safe way to stay within the boundaries of the law – and making sure your employees feel safe.
Con #2: Employee Privacy Concerns
Screen monitoring software can seem a bit intrusive – and naturally so. However, if workers are using company equipment, employers have the right to know that it is being utilized in an intended manner. After all, it has been loaned to the staff to facilitate the performance of their professional tasks, right?
But, when it comes to distributed teams, who are mostly using their own equipment for work, installing software that tracks their activities can raise a question of where the line is drawn and how to ensure privacy in the off-hours.
In that sense, it’s good to know that companies have absolutely no right to install employee tracking software that can work in stealth mode on employees’ personal computers. That means that workers are those who determine when their work will be monitored and for how long. Furthermore, high-quality monitoring solutions guarantee that they don’t run in the background and without the end-user’s consent and knowledge.
That way, employees can ensure not only that solely their working hours are being monitored, but also that their personal information is secure.
Con #3: Employer-Employee Lack of Trust
Introducing employee monitoring software in the environment where it hasn’t existed before (and worse, where the staff had been assured it would never happen) can also make workers suspect their management doesn’t trust them to work without this new type of supervision.
When that happens, people will almost always put blame on their colleagues for being late to work constantly or simply not doing their jobs in a satisfying manner.
In order for the company to make this kind of shift in a successful manner, it’s up to the C-level management to explain the reasoning behind the intended changes, as well as their expectations and the desired outcome.
If monitoring (remote) employees needs to solve a particular issue, employees need to be aware of the problem and its effect on the company, as well as what they need to do and what will happen if they don’t.
It’s also recommendable for companies to include employees in the process of software evaluation and purchase as that will provide them with the chance to get to know the solution from all sides and express their opinion about its competitive benefits and drawbacks.
Considering there are plenty of pros and cons of using employee monitoring software, it’s crucial to get a clear image of them all and weigh them against each other in your own company’s particular circumstances. Only that way will you be able to know for sure if it’s for you or not.