There are several reasons why an organization should think about monitoring the online activities of its employees. Most important of those is the need to shield business data against vulnerabilities due to negligent data handling practices.
Research shows that 99% of employees admit to following potentially risky practices such as sending work documents to their private emails or storing business account credentials. These actions weaken data protection policies and increase the likelihood of data breaches.
Additionally, an organization can look at employee monitoring for operational requirements such as tracking employee productivity and the time spent on tasks or projects.
But monitoring employee activities without relevant technology is virtually impossible. It can only be done effectively if you use employee monitoring software.
This buyers guide discusses the basics of this category of tools and informs on things to keep in mind when exploring the market for options.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
What is employee monitoring software?
Employee monitoring software is a tool that helps businesses track employee activity on computers or mobile devices.
The tool offers surveillance functionalities such as keystroke logging (tracking keyboard activity), location tracking, monitoring internet usage, tracking email and social media activity, and wiretapping.
Employee monitoring dashboard in SoftActivity Monitor (Source)
Common features of employee monitoring software
In this section, we’ll look at some common features of employee monitoring software. These features will help you understand the basic capabilities a solution must offer for effective employee monitoring.
||Track real-time activities of employees on multiple devices. This includes tracking their emails, keystrokes, web browsing, idle time, browsing history, etc.
|Screen activity monitoring
||Maintain video records and take screenshots of employees’ device screens for future reference.
||Track the time employees spend on specific tasks, applications, and projects.
||Turn data obtained on employee and team productivity into visual and interactive reports/graphs.
||Record on-screen activity while sharing the screen. This helps audit activity and maintain screen recordings for future reference.
|Alerts and notifications
||Receive in-app and email notifications when employees indulge in prohibited tasks or access specific applications/web pages.
What type of buyer are you?
There are two major types of buyers of employee monitoring software. They differ based on the requirements and primary concerns.
- Buyers looking for specialized tools: The need for surveillance varies with the business. While one business may wish to monitor outgoing emails, another could be interested in tracking productive hours. Buyers looking for specific surveillance requirements may opt for specialized tools such as email monitoring tools and data loss prevention tools.
- Buyers looking for all-in-one tools: Buyers that want comprehensive surveillance of employee activities could go for all-in-one monitoring tools. These tools help track a host of activities ranging from web browsing, outgoing emails, and keyboard logging.
Benefits of employee monitoring software
The following benefits enlist the business functions that are positively impacted by the tool:
- Gain greater oversight: The tool helps managers and decision-makers gain greater visibility into employee behavior, productivity, and areas of potential risk. This information can be useful in taking important decisions such as how to allocate tasks among employees and which vulnerable areas need additional data protection measures.
- Encourage appropriate behavior: The tool helps managers monitor if employees are accessing websites deemed inappropriate by the business, such as social media or eCommerce sites. Using the tool, managers can also monitor if employees are indulging in unethical behavior such as sharing sensitive business data externally or mishandling business account credentials.
- Improve productivity tracking: While managers may struggle to track when employees start on a task or how much time they actually spend on it, employees may struggle to pinpoint why certain tasks took more time to complete. In such scenarios, employee monitoring tools can help track actual productivity rates and the areas of productivity drain.
Key considerations for selecting employee monitoring software
As the last step to selecting a tool, keep a few additional factors in mind. These will help select a tool that is best suited to your business goals:
- Data privacy: Check with the legal team about the data privacy obligations and limitations of employee surveillance. Accordingly, you may need to comply with laws such as the GDPR and HIPAA. Ignoring the legal aspect of employee privacy or mishandling employee data could have adverse consequences for the business.
- Need analysis: Before shortlisting tools, conduct a need analysis to identify pain points that the intended software needs to resolve. This will help you determine the key features you should look for.
- Product demo: It helps to take product demos before making a purchase. Demos can provide deeper insights into the product’s interface and how its functionalities play out in the real world. They are also a great opportunity to test the tool and clarify queries with the vendor.
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.