Learn how to properly implement an employee monitoring system for your business.
Most office-based companies already use some sort of employee monitoring software. Whether they decided to implement a monitoring system simply to block employees from visiting time-wasting websites or to track their company fleet of vehicles or for another reason, the reality is that monitoring systems are here to stay and completely legal.
Monitoring systems can also be used for monitoring how employees behave toward clients. Another important reason for installing an employee monitoring system is to prevent data leaks and employees from stealing sensitive information. This makes the systems completely justified in companies that work with clients or those that deal with important data that cannot be shared with third parties.
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But these systems can be seen as personal privacy invaders or tools that can hurt employee wellbeing during work hours. If workers know they are monitored at all times when working, the company culture and relationship between employees and managers can suffer. Of course, with the right attitude and a bit of consulting with your workforce, you can change their mind about having to go to work knowing their actions are being followed.
In companies that are viewed by their employees as pleasant working environments, installing an employee monitoring system can be done with genuine and honest employee support. But, in most cases, your employees will initially be against the installation of an employee monitoring system.
Let's look at some common concerns employees have about monitoring systems. We'll also outline how you and your company can change your workforce's attitude regarding these systems and how you can make them feel comfortable working while being monitored.
Your company installed the system without consulting workers
Transparency is extremely important at any company, especially when a company decides to start using technology that affects every employee during every hour of every workday. This is why it is completely wrong – and irresponsible – to install an employee monitoring system without consulting your staff. This can have all sorts of negative outcomes, so make sure to discuss the topic with the whole workforce and to organize a meeting where HR representatives explain everything about the system you want to install and use.
Make sure your employees are completely informed about the platform and employee monitoring in general. Explain how the platform monitors them, which forms of data it collects, in which cases it can be used, its legality and morality, and common scenarios where data collected by the monitoring system can and can't be used. Let your employees know they can appeal to HR managers in situations they deem unfair or illegal. Be transparent and open regarding installation and usage of an employee monitoring system and chances are your workforce will accept it in record time.
Will employees lose personal privacy?
This is another major reason why employees can be against their companies installing employee monitoring systems. They heard that these systems can track every keystroke, that security cameras can be installed anywhere on company grounds, and this can be deeply unsettling, especially for workers who haven't had the chance to work in a company that uses monitoring software.
To help your employees accept monitoring software, you have to explain everything there is about lawful use of the software and the boundaries of using it. For instance, be sure to tell them that cameras won't be used in bathrooms. Next, be sure to explain the reasons why your company decided to install a monitoring system and that it isn't to invade their privacy.
You don't want to know the content of all their conversations; you want to know whether someone is always visiting Facebook, or uses unrecognized USB flash memory on a company computer. You have to explain that, while at work, your employees cannot have complete privacy and that they have to sacrifice parts of it to allow the company to function at its peak efficiency. You can also use secure servers – like those using advanced encryption – for storing private data collected by the monitoring software.
Installing a system without setting up clear, written rules
Another reason your workforce may be against working under an employee monitoring system is the lack of written policies dealing with how the system monitors workers and collects data. It's also worth implementing a set of rules meant to impose responsible use of the internet, email clients, and web and desktop apps.
You can allow workers to visit certain websites during lunch and other breaks and allow them to have one common room without any camera installed. On the other hand, they should consent to be monitored during work hours under certain rules brought together by employees and managers. Create a common agreement with your workforce and then write it down. Having everyone sign the agreement is a great way to implement a policy accepted and created by the whole team.
Using monitoring systems advertised as "spying software"
There are proper employee monitoring systems that run on computers or smartphones and can be uninstalled from devices. If an employee does uninstall it, they will likely create trouble with their employer, but the important thing is they have the option to delete the software from their devices if needed. Users should also be aware of which type of data the monitoring system collects. As we already mentioned, before setting up a monitoring system, inform all employees about all forms of monitoring being used.
There are other apps and platforms that advertise as spying systems, and they cannot bring anything good to your company. They offer a plethora of shady features such as invisible installs and stealth monitoring systems, automatic call recording without the user's knowledge, the ability to completely take over a device, and other nefarious ways to spy on employees.
Do not install one of those – ever. Instead of installing software behind your staff's back, talk with your employees about any potential trust issue you have and employ a classic monitoring software instead.
Monitoring software tracks employees during breaks and after work
While this kind of monitoring is unavoidable in the office space – at least when it comes to security cameras – all other forms of monitoring should be forbidden during breaks and especially when employees are clocked out.
Create a common agreement that allows workers to be exempt from being monitored during breaks, allow them to check their social feeds when they're not working, and instruct employees who are in charge of employee monitoring to never track anyone after work hours.
Asking employees to install monitoring systems on their private devices
Employees may believe employers will force them to use monitoring software on their private devices, so it is up to your business to explain that this is against the law. If you start using employee monitoring software, make sure to install it solely on company-owned devices.
If an employee doesn't own a company phone or a laptop and you, as the owner, want to monitor that employee, make sure to give them a business device and to clearly inform them that the device is equipped with monitoring software.
Of course, there are boundaries to monitoring company-owned devices. You can track and monitor employees only during work hours. Monitoring company-owned devices used by employees during off hours is strictly forbidden and can have major legal consequences. Before installing employee monitoring software, make sure you use company-owned devices and that every employee is aware they have monitoring software installed on their business device.
The bottom line
Employees have many reasons for being against employee monitoring systems, and many of those reasons are justified to some extent. It's up to you to identify those reasons and then work together with your employees to find a solution for their concerns. This strategy is way better than ignoring those concerns and simply installing monitoring software. A lack of transparency will probably lead to lower efficiency, reduced employee trust of high-level managers and a worse office dynamic.