February 15, 2023

How to Monitor Employees in 2024 (Without Overstepping)

Written by
Why is TechnologyAdvice Free?

Employee monitoring software can improve productivity and provide insight into workplace activities, but it can also erode employee trust and make workers feel like they are being unfairly punished.

In some cases, the best solution may be to implement performance management software. This alternative to workplace monitoring helps cultivate a culture of trust and transparency at every level of the business.

However, workplace monitoring is a necessary precaution for businesses, like those in the finance, field service, and healthcare industries. It is possible to successfully implement workplace monitoring tools and tactics as long as companies follow a collaborative and transparent approach that doesn’t violate employees’ privacy rights.

Also read: Why Employee Performance Management Is Important

What does workplace monitoring involve?

Generally speaking, workplace monitoring involves keeping track of employees’ locations and activities using surveillance methods. There are many different tools and techniques available under the workplace monitoring umbrella, including:

  • Employee monitoring software.
  • Time clocks.
  • Video surveillance.
  • Audio recordings.
  • GPS tracking.
  • Biometric technology.

Some workplace monitoring techniques, like time tracking, have been around for decades, to the point where we don’t even think of them as employee monitoring anymore.

However, new advances in technology are happening all the time, and in recent years specific and targeted employee tracking has become possible. We are now at the point where businesses can track every single keystroke and all of an individual’s website browsing history, for example.

These next-level surveillance capabilities have raised a lot of questions about privacy and security tradeoffs and whether or not workplace monitoring is worth it.

Back to top

What are the benefits of workplace monitoring?

When done right, workplace monitoring can offer many potential benefits to businesses. Namely, this kind of monitoring can lead to increased productivity, faster threat assessment, and more evidence-based decision-making opportunities.

Increased productivity

Some companies find that increased accountability leads to greater productivity and efficiency. In turn, this helps to prevent time theft and boosts team performance overall. This also contributes to increased revenue, since the company is getting more work for the same amount of money and time.

Also read: How Performance Bonuses Help Avoid Bias and Increase Productivity

Faster threat assessment

For companies worried about security, workplace monitoring can help IT and security teams identify potential threats and breaches more quickly, especially bad actors inside the company.  Surveillance also makes it easier to enforce certain company policies, like internet usage rules.

More evidence-based decision-making

Finally, data gathering contributes to business intelligence and workforce analytics in platforms like Insightful, providing a more complete picture of employee activities. This data can then be used to inform evidence-based business and personnel decisions.

Back to top

What are the drawbacks of workplace monitoring?

The benefits of workplace tracking are also balanced by the potential negative effects of employee monitoring. These include lower employee morale, higher turnover, weakened cybersecurity, and bigger compliance risks.

Lower employee morale

For one, monitoring can actually backfire by reducing a sense of agency and making employees feel less responsible for their actions. In turn, this encourages them to take unapproved breaks, work more slowly, and steal office equipment, among other undesirable behaviors.

Employees may also feel like they are not trusted by the company and are being punished for no reason whatsoever. If the employee monitoring software was implemented in response to a particular individual’s infraction, then the entire team or company may feel like they are bearing the consequences for one person’s behavior. This can foster resentment, deplete morale, and cause a breakdown in team communication.

Higher turnover

If employees are not told about the surveillance and then later find out about it, they will likely feel a deep sense of distrust in the company, and may even feel betrayed by management. Feeling lied to can also breed resentment among employees and cause them to start looking for new jobs, potentially increasing turnover.

Weakened cybersecurity

Too much data capture and access can actually increase security concerns. The more information that is gathered, the more vulnerable it becomes to breaches and hacks. IT and security teams might also inadvertently capture private employee information that the company should not have access to, resulting in major privacy violations.

Bigger compliance risks

It also takes time to sort through monitoring data, and that data doesn’t provide the whole context of employee actions. Automating decisions based on employee tracking surveillance can lead to wrongful termination and other outcomes that risk discrimination.

Back to top

How should HR teams approach monitoring employees?

There are many situations that make workplace monitoring software a smart risk management investment, and in these cases, human resources (HR) teams must approach workplace monitoring with sensitivity and care.

Identify specific needs and goals

HR teams need to think deeply about whether or not workplace monitoring will address the symptoms or the underlying problem. For instance, if you don’t trust your employees not to steal, then you may be better off hiring new people that you do trust than obsessively monitoring workers that you don’t.

Decision-makers should also reflect on whether their lack of trust stems from the employees’ behavior or from top-down pressure from micromanaging leaders. If performance issues are a concern, it may be more productive to broach the concerns with the employee(s) and explore the possibilities of performance management software than to jump straight to workplace surveillance.

Research potential software solutions

As business leaders weigh these questions, they need to keep in mind that different workplace monitoring tools are more suited to certain goals. For example, security cameras can help prevent theft but won’t protect sensitive data from being hacked.

Meanwhile, remote monitoring software can help prevent time theft by work-from-home employees, but it won’t help the company keep track of field techs’ locations. Workplace monitoring tools should match the goals your company is trying to accomplish.

Ask employees for feedback

Transparency from the start is of paramount importance, so HR teams should ask for input from employees on what kinds of surveillance and what level of monitoring they would be comfortable with. For example, personal devices should not be monitored, even if employees do work activities on them.

Once a decision is made, HR leaders should communicate what data is being collected, how often it is updated, and how long it is kept. Leaders then need to be able to clearly explain how workplace monitoring contributes to achieving legitimate business goals, such as hitting revenue targets or keeping techs safe in the field.

Furthermore, this data should also be used to benefit employees—by informing performance bonuses, for example—instead of just punishing them for infractions. Employees should also be given access to their personal data if possible.

If you’re looking for workplace monitoring tools, check out our Remote Monitoring Management (RMM) Software Guide. However, if your business’s needs are centered around performance management, explore top solutions in our Performance Management Software Guide.

1 Deel

Visit website

Deel Engage helps your team reach their full potential. Align your team on goals, review performance, identify high-potential talent, and reward top achievers.

Learn more about Deel

2 Peoplebox

Visit website

Gen-AI powered platform for performance reviews, aligned goals (OKRs), 1:1s, surveys, KPIs, initiative management, strategic meetings and People Analytics.

Learn more about Peoplebox

3 Breezy Perform

Visit website

Perform by Breezy HR is your go-to solution for performance management. Easily set and track goals, enhance engagement, and complete reviews. Get all the tools your business needs to succeed, all in one user-friendly Breezy platform.

Learn more about Breezy Perform

TechnologyAdvice is able to offer our services for free because some vendors may pay us for web traffic or other sales opportunities. Our mission is to help technology buyers make better purchasing decisions, so we provide you with information for all vendors — even those that don't pay us.
In this article...