The rise of remote working in the past year has created new challenges for businesses. Employers can no longer monitor their teams within the confines of an office. Therefore, it’s become more difficult to evaluate performance and productivity, leading to increased employee monitoring.
What is Employee Monitoring?
Employee monitoring is the “method employers use to survey their workplaces and their staff members’ whereabouts and activities.” It includes using software to monitor online activity, installing systems that allow staff to clock in and out, and on-site video surveillance. Employees must give consent, but employers can monitor emails, instant messages, search history and even keystrokes.
David Liddle, CEO of The TCM Group, said: “In a poll of more than 3,000 workers commissioned by the TUC, one in seven said employer monitoring had risen during Covid. More than a quarter reported having their daily communications screened. While 13 per cent had experienced desktop monitoring.”
To some people, this may seem like an extreme measure. Yet, employee monitoring can increase productivity within a team and encourage employees to be accountable for their work.
A policy is crucial as part of employee monitoring. Employees must be aware that there is monitoring in place, and they must give consent. Monitoring can be beneficial for some companies, but only if they adhere to all laws and ethical frameworks.
As Shawn M. Thomson, founder and director of the Insider Threat Training Academy, said: “The challenge is to balance the security needs of the corporation with the privacy concerns of employees.”
What are the Advantages of Employee Monitoring?
Employee monitoring software offers a way for businesses to track the progress of their operations and evaluate the performance of their teams. These tools allow businesses to monitor the hours spent on projects or tasks. Companies can also track employee working hours and the websites that staff access.
Knowing the amount of time spent on specific projects could be helpful when invoicing clients and justifying costs. Identifying the websites and apps employees use on company devices helps protect against malware attacks and identifies potential safety breaches.
Monitoring encourages staff to be accountable and stay focused while at work. It can also be beneficial for teams, as employers can identify specific training needs and reward performance.
Key Considerations Before Implementing Employee Monitoring
Some may argue that monitoring software should not be the only way to engage and focus employees. While there are benefits with employee monitoring, there are a few issues too.
Employees must understand why there is monitoring in place, and they should be fully aware of the risks. If employees are uncomfortable with being monitored, it could eventually lead to anxiety, stress and lower morale. The issue gets aggravated if an employer ignores employees concerns. Staff do not feel trusted by the company, and in turn, they lose trust in their employer. It becomes a vicious cycle that might lead to a toxic working environment. In the worst case, a company experiences high employee attrition and an inferior employer brand.
The sharp increase in remote working led to some concern about employee productivity. But monitoring productivity is likely to instil a culture of mistrust. Research shows that employees are far more productive when they feel valued and treated with respect.
Employers must set boundaries and set clear expectations that employees know and understand. The pandemic has seen a shift in the way we collaborate, but productivity and strong working relationships feed on trust and respect. Open and honest discussions should be enough to ensure employees are engaged and that the business and its people perform to the best of their abilities.
There are occasions when employee monitoring becomes vital. For instance, if the company has serious concerns about misconduct. Or where protection of critical operations or other employees is a concern.
What are your views on employee monitoring in the workplace?