Published on March 22nd, 2021 | by Bibhuranjan


Employee Monitoring Software: Your Ultimate Guide for 2021 [Trends & Insights]

The pandemic has highlighted the need to monitor what the vast remote workforce is doing when they should be working. But employee monitoring software has been around even before that and is likely to stay even once the pandemic is over.

The issue of employee monitoring is a sensitive one and is sometimes a cause of distrust between the employer and the employees. As an employer, it’s up to you to be as transparent as possible about how and why such software will be used in your company.

As it turns out, many people are very suspicious of apps that track their activity. Others fear the company will thread on their privacy. Both issues stem from not understanding what employee monitoring software is, how it’s used, and what precisely it tracks.

That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide. It will explain everything you need to know about this type of software, from what it is to what problems it solves and everything else in between.

What Is Employee Monitoring Software?

Employee monitoring software tracks productivity and time usage of both remote and office workers.

It’s a program that allows employers to see what their employees are doing, how they’re spending their work hours, and how active they are. And while it’s common to think that such software is dedicated to tracking what out-of-office workers are up to, it’s just as useful to watch over the company network too.

Here are just a couple of examples of what employee monitoring software can track:

  • Emails
  • Activity on the web
  • App usage
  • Computer screen
  • Time spent on specific tasks
  • Computer’s location.

Some of the uses mentioned are easy to understand, others such as location tracking and email reading are points of contention. But regardless of what you think of the tracking practices, you can reasonably expect a company to be interested in your online activity at the very least.

Why Do Companies Use Employee Monitoring Software?

It seems obvious at first, but there are more reasons for companies using tracking software than just improving productivity.

Introducing employee monitoring software can have a noticeable effect on increased productivity, transparency, and security. It also makes administrative work less arduous and provides better insight into what each employee is doing.

Increasing Employee Productivity

An average remote worker wastes anywhere from three to five hours of work time per day. That’s why employers and team leaders often choose to deploy some kind of tracking software to see who’s doing what.

Monitoring software will give the company a much better insight into how much money it’s losing to unproductive employees. Depending on how big the company is, you may be annually losing six-figure sums to low productivity.

Using monitoring software can preemptively save all the time and money that would be wasted if you hadn’t noticed the problem as it was happening.

Who Is Up for a Promotion?

Tracking software is not just about boosting productivity and discovering who’s been slacking. It’s also an opportunity to reward those employees whose outstanding work ethic and dedication push the company forward.

Real-Time Synchronization

When you have an overview of what each and every one of your employees is doing, it’s much easier to synchronize their efforts.

If you need all hands on deck for a high-priority project, you can redirect the employees who’re working on something less crucial and have them focus on that project instead.

It can also make delegation much easier, bringing the team closer together and improving the coworker relationships.

Reducing Administrative Workload

Few people, if any, really get the kick out of doing paperwork. Let’s face it — administrative tasks are boring, tedious, and very much necessary.

Luckily, employee monitoring software can reduce the administrative load. When properly set up, such software can keep track of all the work hours, log them, process appropriate payments, and notify management about any changes.

And that’s only a portion of what it can do to get the administrative nightmare out of your way.

Better Security for Everyone

Employee monitoring software can track both the time and location of your employees. When someone is late or missing, the company can act on that information and alert the proper authorities.

There are already cases of tracking software helping solve the case of harassment at the workplace and finding missing employees using GPS.

But that’s not the only way this kind of software has increased security. By tracking employee online activity, employers and managers can see who’s visiting websites with malicious and problematic content. They can then intervene before malware or a virus jeopardizes all company data.

Downsides of Using Tracking Software

From the employer’s point of view, there’s nothing wrong with using employee monitoring software. It’s a reassurance that the work employees are being paid to do will get done and on time.

But if you’ve ever been at the receiving end of employee monitoring, you know how unfair and untrustworthy it makes you feel.

These are the feelings that can quickly cause employee morale to plummet. Losing morale due to tracking software is not unheard of. Many people see it as a sign that the employer does not trust them, which then leads to some more serious issues.

First of all, it’s an innate human trait to be wary of being tracked. Living with the fact that someone is observing every minute you spend working is unnerving and stressful. It can cause undue anxiety, which, when combined with stress, can cause serious health problems. And you better believe that employees will, understandably, choose their health over your business, which leads us to the second issue.

Employers using monitoring software report a higher employee turnover. The moral issues usually culminate with employees abandoning the ship. High turnover is very costly for the company, as it’s very time-consuming and inefficient to constantly replace staff. Suffice it to say that turnover further damages the already fragile morale.

Are Privacy Issues Real?

Some employees cite privacy issues, but privacy is not an argument against employee tracking software. There are two reasons why employees shouldn’t use their privacy as a defense against tracking software.

The first one is that no legitimate software tracks your activity outside of work hours. Constant monitoring is just a myth that some employees perpetuate to avoid being tracked. The second reason is that the employer has the legal right to know how their subordinates are spending the time they’re being paid for.

Privacy issues are, on occasion, a cause of legal battles between the employer and an employee. So far, courts have upheld the employer’s right to reasonably monitor employee activity. However, it’s not impossible to take tracking too far, so be careful when you consider what activities to monitor.

What to Expect from Employee Monitoring Software in the Future?

Give the current health crisis, it’s unlikely we’ll see life return to the pre-pandemic normal anytime soon. Workers are going to stay out of the office in the foreseeable future, which means that the need for tracking software will only go up.

However, as we’ve pointed out, employee monitoring software has useful applications regardless of where your workers are. Even if everything goes back to normal, tracking software is simply too good and too useful to companies for it to simply disappear.

If there’s one thing we learned from the pandemic is that more jobs are doable remotely than was previously thought. The number of remote workers may stay high when the measures are lifted.

As for what to expect from future monitoring software, get ready for more mobile and IoT tracking. Employers have realized that people can just use their mobile devices to get around monitoring software, so that’s the next likely target. IoT devices can help track employees’ location within the workplace to help employers better understand how people are spending their time.

To Sum Up

Employee monitoring software can provide too much value to the company for you to ignore it. From increasing productivity to ensuring everyone’s working towards the same goal, tracking will almost certainly boost your revenue.

While it’s perfectly legal to monitor what your employees are up to during work hours, it’s still a contentious topic for many. To reduce the stress which leads to high employee turnover, make sure everyone is on the same page. Explain why you’re using such software, to what extent, and when, and your employees will understand.

When it comes to tracking, transparency is key to maintaining a healthy and prospering workplace environment.

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Editorial Officer, I'm an avid tech enthusiast at heart. I like to mug up on new and exciting developments on science and tech and have a deep love for PC gaming. Other hobbies include writing blog posts, music and DIY projects.

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