employee monitoring

How to Do Employee Monitoring the Right Way

Check it out what you will find on this article about employee monitoring:


Employee monitoring sure is one of those topics everyone hates to talk on, but have to anyways. At the face of it, monitoring employees gives of a strong big brother watching vibe — an opinion no one wants to be at the business end of. And yet, with growing democratizing of workplaces, remote working and digital nomadism, companies would be at a critical disadvantage if they didn’t oversee their employee’s productivity.

The problems don’t end there. Employee monitoring is easier said than done. The technology and legislative meandering required to implement it requires a steady hand indeed. For one, you have to install your own tracking software on hardware either owned or operated by employees. Device compatibility, usage patterns and location data all come into play. As you will be collecting (very) personal data on your personnel, you will need to delineate and explain how you will be storing and using it. Repeating the same process across borders will be harder (if not impossible in some cases) as every country will have its own laws on the matter.

All said, employee monitoring is only growing in importance. Many industries such as healthcare are required by law to collect data on usage patterns for security purposes. A survey by American Management Association found that employee monitoring takes the following forms

  • 45% of employers tracking content, keystrokes, and time spent at the keyboard
  • 43% store and review computer files
  • 12% monitor the blogosphere to see what is being written about the company
  • 10% monitor social networking sites

But, is employee monitoring right your organization? Let’s see what situations might require you to oversee your personnel, and when it’s totally a no-no.

>> People data is the next frontier and it’s already making news. Find out more on how to collect and use people data to your advantage.

Types of Employee Monitoring Systems

The old CCTV cameras aren’t the only way you can watch over how your employees are performing. Modern software allows for a number of different data to be collected on both users and employees alike. These include…

Network Monitoring: Enables a company to monitor internet traffic coming into and going out of their private networks. This may be enabled through firewalls or routers that listen to the traffic and point out irregularities. Network monitoring is useful for stopping malware from infecting computers, stopping employees from accessing forbidden content on the internet, mapping a user’s online activity and identifying network issues.

Email Monitoring: Email monitoring software are usually used for allocating bandwidth and identifying if there are any issues with a company’s email server. However, you can also read an employee’s email as long as it is sent from your company’s email address. Modern email monitoring software can tell you when an employee is sending a mail, it’s recipient, subject line, contents and whether it has an attachment. As sensitive data can easily be shared via email, such tools become important to track and control email usage. Furthermore, email monitoring can also help you identify an employee’s strengths and weaknesses without confronting them.

Computer Monitoring: uses software installed on a computer or network to oversee certain aspects of how they are being used. Such tools can be used to track simple aspects such as productivity and time usage to fully blown out solutions that can log keystrokes, location data and take screenshots of a particular device whenever the administrator wants.

GPS Tracking: Usually carried out via apps installed in a smartphone, or lowjacked company vehicles. GPS tracking is a contentious issue between employers and employees as it raises concerns about how it is used and where does it stop.

>> Sure you can track employees using the latest tech. But, there’s more to the fine art of performance management that can help you achieve better results, and work-relationships.

When Does Employee Monitoring Become Too Much?

Even though monitoring employees makes perfect sense from the company’s vantage point, the latter will no doubt regard it with disdain. No one likes being watched constantly and with digital snooping becoming extremely easy, the number of “what-ifs” an employee will ask has risen, too. What if that message I sent won’t be approved by my manager? Am I really being tracked day in day out? Is my phone tracking enabled even when I am home or out on vacation? Is that tracking app on my phone secretly monitoring my personal use as well?

Most companies cite sensitivity of data as the primo facto reason for employee tracking. Tracking can help stave off costly lawsuits, after all. But what about all the lawsuits that employee monitoring itself can invite? For instance, Intermex Wire Transfers fired Myrna Arias in 2015 because she had turned off GPS tracking on her company issued phone. Arias had discovered that the company was tracking her even during off-duty hours. The case was settled out of court.

Cases such as these are becoming increasingly common in light of increasing technological surveillance capabilities, laws always playing catch-up and companies fearing the worst. Not only can a wrong approach backfire spectacularly, but it can affect employee morale and satisfaction.

Stress will skyrocket in a (digital or inhouse) workplace environment where employees know they are constantly being monitored. The fear of being fired can actually keep people from performing optimally, not to mention, they will probably try and look for another job which in turn will increase turnover rate and affect the company’s market reputation.

Fortunately, employee monitoring can be implemented such that a company’s interests are safeguarded, while keeping employees happy.

>> Everyone’s multitasking since there’s so little time. But, does multitasking enhance productivity, or hamper it?

Monitoring Employees Smartly

A company needs to understand the business risk of employee monitoring before investing in such a system. While Orewellian measures like keylogging and installing tracking chips inside employees may make sense in industries such as defense, healthcare and finance, most companies really do not need to go overboard on it.

When putting a tracking system in place, transparency is your friend. The more doubts and questions your employees are likely to have are settled, the better the chances they will opt into your tracking initiative and work without needless fears.

Consider the following:

1. Create a clear monitoring policy

Note down every way you intend to track an employee’s actions, then share them with your staff. Settle any doubts they may have and should an employee have concerns about a certain tracking method, consider either addressing them or editing your policy if there suggestions are valid. Better yet, involve your employees in authoring the policy so that they may retain a sense of ownership and know the policy by heart.

2. Only monitor business activities

You have no jurisdiction over what an employee chooses to do during his/her off-hours. For want of fairness, it is best to turn on your employee monitoring system during certain times of the day. Furthermore, whether an action should raise a red-flag should depend entirely on the nature of the task and not the task itself. For instance, a social media manager will no doubt spend most of his/her time on social media, but a sales-rep doing the same is a cause for concern.

3. Go above and beyond to generate trust

Constant monitoring will put you in a bad light as it suggests you don’t trust the people you work with. If during the course of your monitoring, you do find something that needs to be corrected, it’s best handled in a friendly manner. Remember, how you choose to act on such information will set a precedent that the rest of your staff will respond to. It’s best to use the information to help and en hance performance, not to punish and set examples all the time.

>> Stress is at an all time high. Here’s how to manage workplace stress smartly.

Concluding Thoughts

As an employer or manager, you certainly have a responsibility to both your customers and employees to ensure fairness. Fortunately, modern user activity monitoring software are flexible enough to provide employers with the control they need without needlessly impinging on an employee’s privacy.

Modern crowd based tools such as Runrun.it are designed to track productive activities alone and while securing privacy for inhouse and remote workers alike. Interested in finding out more? Why not give Runrun.it a try? It’s free and lets you see how easy tracking productivity and time can be in the cloud era. Feel free to give us a shoutout if you have any doubts.

employee monitoring

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