The best employee monitoring software for small businesses helps you manage and enforce your acceptable use policy without requiring a lot of your time to install and maintain it. You need a solution that alerts you when your employees attempt to leak vital business information, access inappropriate content, or simply waste time while they are on the clock.
Here are the main aspects to pay attention to in your search.
Content Filtering and Blocking Features
Consider the different types of monitoring features the software offers. For example, how much do you want to control your employees’ internet time? It is all right for them to surf the internet during breaks and lunches, or not at all? What websites do your employees need to access to do their jobs?
With some software, you can select times when the internet or certain sites are blocked or accessible. Most applications also let you create user groups, each with its own rules and permissions. Blocking disruptive sites and creating custom permissions for specific groups is one way you can use this type of business internet software to increase your employees’ efficiency and productivity.
Time Tracking and Activity Monitoring
Many businesses use employee monitoring software to track employees’ working hours. The software may include login/logout features so employees can record the time they spend working. Activity tracking is a popular feature that shows how active or idle an employee’s keyboard and mouse are during their work hours.
Idle time isn’t always a negative thing, though. For example, if an employee spends a lot of time reading or in meetings, they might have low keyboard and mouse activity. The best software records whether the employee’s activity (or inactivity) is productive or unproductive. This gives you insight into where your employees excel and where they are distracted. This is a great feature for tracking and improving employee productivity.
Application, Website and Email Monitoring
Consider the specific areas of computer activity you want to track. The most comprehensive programs keep detailed logs of the websites your employees visit and the apps they use, along with their emails, online chats, created and downloaded files, print jobs, inserted devices, and even physical locations when they’re on company devices.
You may not want to keep such detailed tabs on your employees. If you choose software with a full suite of features, you can usually customize exactly what it records (and in how much detail) as well as the exceptions.
Screenshots and Keystroke Logging
Depending on your reason for using employee monitoring software, you may want it to record employees’ online searches and takes screenshots of their monitors. These can come in handy if you are sued by a disgruntled employee and need to back up your claims.
You may also want to consider software that records keystrokes; however, this feature could feel particularly invasive to employees, so not all monitoring software vendors offer it.
Reports and Notifications
Pay attention to the software’s reports and notification features. It should provide regular reports (at intervals you choose) with easy-to-read statistics and visual breakdowns of employee habits. For more detailed information, though, you’ll need extensive notification options, and the best software has both real-time monitoring and real-time alerts. For instance, you may choose to be alerted if an employee downloads a document online or tries to access a forbidden website. Since notifications alert you to specific occurrences and reports give you a staffwide overview, you’ll get the most out of your software when you use both options together.
Make sure your office web monitoring software automatically archives the data it captures. You never know when you may need to review an employee’s internet history. [Related article: 10 Ways Employee Monitoring Software Can Benefit Your Remote and In-Office Teams]
In addition to dashboards you can access from any browser, the best employee monitoring software offers mobile apps that let you monitor your staff when you’re away from the office. Some have both Android and iPhone apps, and others are platform-specific, so if this feature is important to you, verify that the app is compatible with the operating system you use.
Ease of Use and Support
Good monitoring software should be intuitive to use, with a visually appealing interface that displays all the options without being cluttered and overwhelming. You and the other admins should feel confident using the software, getting a good grasp of the monitoring options after a few minutes of clicking around.
In case you do run into issues, though, you want to work with a company that’s easy to reach. You should be able to reach tech support by phone, email, live chat, or online ticket, though even some of the best companies only offer one or two of these support avenues. Live chat is typically the fastest way to connect with a representative. Most companies also have extensive self-help resources on their websites for your reference, such as how-to guides, video tutorials, and FAQs pages.
Some companies charge extra for ongoing upgrades and support after the first year. You can forgo this option, but you run the risk of operating outdated and possibly insecure software without help from the manufacturer.