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The Best Employee Monitoring Software of 2021

By Skye Schooley,
business.com Staff
| Updated
Jun 03, 2021

We've narrowed down the best employee monitoring software for businesses. Check out our best picks and reviews.
Best for Security Threat Protection
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Customizable content filtering
Video and audio monitoring
Insider threat detection
Best for Workforce Analytics
Visit Site
Free and paid plans
Transparent activity tracking
Workforce insights
Best for Remote Workforces
Visit Site
Ideal for remote workforces
Employee productivity tracking
Free trial with 24/7 support
Most Affordable
SentryPC
Real-time monitoring
Keystrokes tracked
Portable drive detection
Best for Managing Productivity
Hubstaff
Mouse and keyboard tracking
Screenshots for multiple screens
Mobile GPS tracking
We've narrowed down the best employee monitoring software for businesses. Check out our best picks and reviews.
Updated 06/03/21

This page has been updated to include information about Workpuls' new enterprise single sign-on capabilities.

 

The Best Employee Monitoring Software

Employee monitoring software is an important tool for business owners who want to verify that employees are using their time at work to accomplish the responsibilities and tasks assigned to them, not spending hours watching cat videos and trolling social media, or, worse, engaging in reckless or malicious behavior that jeopardizes the company. The best employee monitoring software gives you insight into how employees are spending their time each day, and it uncovers ways to improve employee productivity. To find this year's best employee monitoring solutions, we looked for software that was affordable, easy to use and that had comprehensive features for tracking employee productivity, such as app and website tracking, content filtering, and screen captures.

 

Find the Right Employee Monitoring Service for Your Business

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How We Decided
Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.
29
Considered
14
Researched
10
Selected

Compare Our Best Picks

Company Name Best for Free plan Free trial User minimum Pricing No. of software plans Contract length Hosting options Compatible operating systems Keystroke logging Silent or visible
Customer support
Teramind Security threat protection No 7-14 days 5 users; supports 10 endpoints $10-$25 per user per month or $5-$12.50 per endpoint per month 6 Annual Cloud and on-premises Windows, Windows Server, Mac, Citrix, VDI, VMWare Horizon, terminal servers Yes Both
Phone, email and webchat
Interguard Workforce analytics No 7 days 2 for the annual plans; 5 for the monthly plans $9.99 per user per month or customized per plan 2 monthly and annual Cloud and on-premises Windows, Mac, Windows VDI and terminal servers, Linux, Chromebook, iOS, Android Yes Both
Phone and webchat
ActivTrak Remote workforces Yes 14 days 5 $0-$15 per user per month or customized per plan 4 plus add-ons monthly and annual Cloud and on-premises Windows, Mac, Chrome, Android, iOS No Silent
Phone, email and webchat
Veriato Enterprise organizations No Yes, contact company for trial No Rates are customized per plan 3 Annual Cloud and on-premises Windows, Mac Yes Silent Online ticket
SentryPC Affordability No Demo only No Starting at $59.95 per license per year 6 Annual Cloud and on-premises Windows, Mac Yes Both Online ticket
Hubstaaff Managing productivity Yes 14 days No $0-$20 per user per month 4 Monthly and annual Cloud and on-premises Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, Chrome, Android, iOS No Visible
Online ticket and webchat
Work Examiner Perpetual licensing No 30 days 3-10 $25-$60 per license per year or customized per plan 2 Annual On-premises Windows Yes Both
Phone, email and webchat
Controlio Video recording No 14 days No $7.99 per user per month, $79.90 per user per year, or customized per plan 3 Monthly and annual Cloud and on-premises Windows Yes Both Online ticket
WorkPuls Employee privacy No 7 days No (There is a 100-user minimum for on-premises data storage.) $4.80-$15 per user per month, or customized per plan 4 Monthly and annual Cloud and on-premises Windows, Mac No Both
Phone and webchat
BambooHR Performance management No 7 days No Rates are customized per plan 2 plus add-ons Monthly Cloud Windows, Mac, Android, iOS No None
Phone and email

Our Reviews

Teramind: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Security Threat Protection

Teramind's advanced plans comply with HIPAA, GDPR, PCI DSS, ISO 27001, SOX and FISMA.
It offers security features like data loss prevention, audits and forensics, and user behavior analytics.
For Teramind's cloud plans, you need a minimum of five users. Its on-premises plans have a 10-endpoint minimum.
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Teramind is our pick as the best employee monitoring software for security threat protection. It offers a data loss prevention package designed to secure your company's network and data. It also offers audit and forensics tools to investigate any incidents.

Editor's Score: 9.3/10

Teramind is one of the most comprehensive monitoring systems we reviewed. You can monitor user behavior on web pages, applications, emails, online meetings, file transfers, chats, social media, clipboards, searches and printing activity. You can also remotely control devices if needed, and you can access video recordings of all users' activity. You can set rules that prevent external drive usage and detects unusual or unauthorized network logins. Teramind can log all keyboard activity. To further secure your organization, insider threat detection, dynamic risk scoring, malicious or abusive behavior detection and anomaly detection can all be implemented.

One of Teramind's plans, the DLP plan includes additional data loss prevention features like data fingerprinting, clipboard detection, and content-based and file-operation rules. Teramind can also be used to track employee attendance and improve workforce productivity. You can view a workforce productivity analysis, including an active versus idle time analysis. Comprehensive reports detail how many hours each employee worked each day, how many hours they spent on work-related and non-work-related tasks, and how much time they spent on specific projects. Employers get access to real-time alerts and notifications, policy managing functions, a visual rule editor, and out-of-the-box rule templates.

Teramind offers three cloud and three on-premises plans.

  • Teramind Starter: The cloud version costs $10 per user per month, while the cost for the on-premises version is $5 per endpoint per month.
  • Teramind UAM: For the cloud version, the cost is $20.83 per user per month, while it's $20.42 per endpoint per month for the on-premises version.
  • Teramind DLP: The cloud version of DLP costs $12.50 per user per month and $25 per endpoint per month for the on-premises plan.
  • Cloud accounts have a five-user minimum, and on-premises accounts are required to have a minimum of 10 endpoints. Free trials are available for seven to 14 days, depending on the deployment type.

    Teramind offers a live demo on its website, as well as phone, email, and webchat support.

Read Teramind Review

ActivTrak: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Workforce Analytics

ActivTrak's dashboard is comprehensive and easy to use.
It has advanced workforce analytics and productivity insights that are informative and user-friendly.
The software lacks keystroke logging.
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ActivTrak is a cloud-based employee monitoring software program that has everything you need to track employee behavior, productivity, efficiency, workload balance and goals. It comprehensive workforce analytics and reporting features are why we recommend it as the best employee monitoring software for workforce analytics.

Editor's Score: 9.16/10

Instead of acting as a stealth spyware solution, ActivTrak has adopted a different approach. Its features are focused on improving employee productivity and efficiency in a healthy way. It tracks employee hours, productive versus unproductive behavior, passive versus active behavior, mouse movements and keyboard activity (not keystroke logging), and website and application usage. Employers can block employees from accessing specific websites and applications on a computer, user or group basis. You can set up notifications and real-time reports to stay informed on employee behavior.

It has security features like audit trails, USB device activity tracking, and risk scores – these risk scores help administrators identify which employees are more likely to intentionally or unintentionally cause a data breach. With the Premium plan, you have access to advanced insights. For example, you can see side-by-side views of how employees and teams compare with each other. You can view data on productivity, work efficiency, workload balance and tech usage as well.

ActivTrak is very easy to use, and it comes with a free demo, so users can learn how to get the most out of it. Since ActivTrak is focused on productivity, it predesignates 90 to 95% of activities and apps as either productive or unproductive (these designations can be edited) – this makes implementation a breeze. Installation is a one-step process, so you can be monitoring in no time. You can customize how ActivTrak captures data and sends alerts. If you do need assistance with the software, ActivTrak has 24/7 support, video tutorials on ActivTrak tools and features, webcasts and white papers.

The specific features you get with ActivTrak are tiered based on four plans. Its free plan is available for up to three users, with 3GB of storage. The Advanced plan, which provides standard employee monitoring features, is only $9 per user per month, with the option for monthly or annual contracts. Its new Premium plan (released in April 2021) has advanced employee monitoring features, with the inclusion of extensive employee insight capabilities. This plan comes with a 14-day free trial and costs $15 per user per month, billed annually. ActivTrak has an Enterprise plan, but for this plan, you will need to speak with a representative to get a custom price quote. You can customize any annual paid plan with add-ons like screenshot redaction and ActivConnect, an analytics tool that informs you about user behavior. With ActivConnect, you can create customized reports and perform queries. Paid plans have a five-user minimum.

Read ActivTrak Review

InterGuard: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Remote Workforces

InterGuard has a six-view dashboard that allows users to quickly and easily find the employee monitoring metrics they want to track.
InterGuard's solution includes data loss prevention, endpoint lockdown and data retrieval.
You need a minimum of two users for the annual plan and five users for the monthly plan.
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InterGuard is a comprehensive employee monitoring solution that can be deployed as a cloud-based or on-premises solution. It is especially well suited for companies that want to track remote workers.

Editor's Score: 9.2/10

For companies that need to monitor staff from afar, InterGuard's software tracks start and stop times, lunch breaks, geolocations, and idle versus active time. The software has a six-view dashboard. There is a chart view for executives, a user view for HR and managers, an alert log view for security tech, a data view, a reports and notification view, and a search view if you're conducting an investigation. The user view is the most popular among remote teams, as it shows you active, neutral and idle times.

InterGuard monitors applications, email, website searches, social media, website history, files, chats and printing behavior. With keystroke logging, you can set alerts for specific or suspicious keywords. Additionally, you can use web filtering and block websites or apps that don't adhere to your company's policies. Additionally, you can access audit logs and conduct covert searches to detect potential financial fraud and employee misconduct.

One aspect of InterGuard that is especially useful for companies with remote workers is that it offers data loss prevention software. This blocks and reports unauthorized email and/or USB usage, and it scans data in motion and data at rest to detect and block DLP violations. It has endpoint lockdown and data retrieval, which is valuable if you need to secure a device from a remote employee who has left your company ‒ you can immediately secure your company information before the employee potentially takes it.

Although InterGuard employee monitoring currently runs only in stealth mode (meaning the employee can't see it), the company plans to release employee-controlled monitoring features in 2021, which will include features like interactive control login and logout (beneficial for remote workers with random schedules), manual time entries and dashboard permissions.

InterGuard offers monthly plans, which you can cancel anytime, or annual plans paid upfront, which gives you more substantial savings per user. Annual plans have a two-user minimum, while monthly plans have a five-user minimum. The cloud-hosted software starts at $9.99 per user per month when you purchase an annual plan for 11 to 25 users. Total pricing for InterGuard is based on a combination of factors, including the types of device you want to monitor, the total number of users and whether you are willing to commit to more than one year of service. If you're interested in InterGuard's on-premises solution or an enterprise account, you will need to contact the company for a price quote. A seven-day free trial is available.

InterGuard has over 60 charts and an alert log generated by rules you create. There is a video demo of the software and chat support.

Read InterGuard Review

SentryPC: Most Affordable Employee Monitoring Software

PC plans start at $59.95 per PC per year, plus $19.95 for each additional license.
SentryPC's features include content filtering, activity monitoring, keylogging and portable drive detection.
Customer support isn't available by phone or live chat.

SentryPC is the best employee monitoring software for small businesses on a budget. It is available in several affordable pricing plans, it's easy-to-use, and it has all the core monitoring features we looked for in a software application.

Editor's Score: 8.54/10

The software is easy to use. Once you install the software onto the device you want to monitor, you can start tracking it from any web-connected device. Employers can select the work hours of the employee to monitor activity and set maximum usage limits for each day or week. SentryPC tracks activities like login and logout, downloads, password changes or resets, and computer installations and uninstallations. When an employee accesses a website, SentryPC records their IP address, the website details and a time stamp of when they visited the page. You can also view employee behavior like applications used, keystrokes, chats (Windows only) and games played. It also offers event timelines, file activity (Windows only), location IP logging, portable drive detection (Windows only), printing actions (Windows only), and screenshots.

Another way to keep your business secure is to initiate SentryPC's blocking and filtering features. You can block certain content all the time or choose specific hours of the day an employee is allowed to access it, such as permitting access to social media sites during lunch hours. You can filter applications, games, websites, chats and keywords and set activity alerts. SentryPC has in-depth reports that detail the employee's most frequent activities, which are accompanied by helpful, visual charts. All activity logs stored in your cloud account can be downloaded for offline use. If you have questions regarding SentryPC software, you can contact customer support for technical issues through a ticket system.

SentryPC is a cloud-hosted solution that has more service plans than many of the employee monitoring software companies we reviewed, which makes it a great fit for businesses of any size. Here is what businesses can expect to pay for SentryPC based on the number of employees they wish to monitor:

  • Basic plan: This plan costs $59.95 per PC per year for one PC and up to 500 screenshots stored. Each additional license costs $19.95.
  • Business 50 plan: For businesses with up to 50 PCs, this plan costs $995 per PC per year. It stores 500 screenshots. Each additional license costs $19.90.
  • Business 100: This option costs $1,595 per PC per year for up to 100 PCs and 1,000 screenshots stored. Each additional license costs $15.95.
  • Business 250: For $2,995 per PC per year, businesses can install SentryPC up to 250 PCs and store 1,000 screenshots. Each additional license runs $11.98.
  • Business 500: This plan costs $3,995 per PC per year for up to 500 PCs and 2,000 screenshots. Each additional license costs $7.99.
  • Business 1,000: For enterprises, SentryPC charges $4,995 per PC per year for up to 1,000 PCs and 2,000 screenshots. Each additional license costs $4.99 each.

Read SentryPC Review

Hubstaff: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Managing Productivity

Hubstaff is ideal for monitoring employee activity and productivity for businesses with employees who work remotely or who are on the go (i.e., technicians).
The software includes GPS tracking and geofencing.
It lacks content filtering, file and print tracking, and keystroke logging.

Hubstaff is our pick as the best employee monitoring software for managing the productivity of your workers. Its unique combination of features, including activity monitoring and time tracking, are focused on helping your employees get their work done.

Editor's Score: 8.46/10

Hubstaff is an ideal employee monitoring solution for business owners who want to make sure they're paying employees for an honest day's work and feel like most employee management software is overly invasive. Businesses that can benefit from Hubstaff include those in the cleaning, landscaping, consulting and construction industries.

The software is capable of monitoring employees inside or outside of the office. For example, you can track freelancers, field service workers and remote workers. Hubstaff is compatible with virtually every operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, Chrome, iOS, Android).

Hubstaff's software is affordable, with four plans to choose from. If you only have one user, you can sign up for the free plan. For business owners who need a solution to monitor two or more users, there are three paid plans to choose from. The Basic plan is $7 per user per month; the Premium plan is $10 per user per month; and the Enterprise plan is $20 per user per month. Hubstaff offers a 14-day free trial, and users can cancel, upgrade, or downgrade their software plan at any time. Hubstaff also has a 60-day, money-back guarantee.

The specific features you can access with Hubstaff vary based on which service tier you choose. The free plan tracks employee time and takes random screenshot captures, and mouse and keyboard activity is recorded. Keep in mind, though, Hubstaff does not track which exact keys are being hit – instead, it assigns a true or false value to record activity level. Additionally, screenshots can be taken up to three times per 10-minute intervals, but employees can delete the screenshots if they contain sensitive information. This helps maintain company transparency and employee privacy.

With the Basic plan, you gain unlimited screenshots, one integration, per-user settings, and 24-hour support. The Premium plan comes with everything in the Basic plan, unlimited integrations, website and application tracking, time-off and holiday tracking, mobile GPS tracking, employee scheduling and attendance, weekly time limits and alerts, and fleet tracking.

Hubstaff offers 24-hour support for paid plans and VIP support for Enterprise plans.

 

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BambooHR: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Performance Management

BambooHR is a user-friendly HR software solution with performance-management features.
You can run customized reports so you can manage your employees better.
It doesn't monitor apps, nor does it log keystrokes or block certain types of content.

BambooHR is not a standard employee monitoring software program. It is cloud-based HR software, but the platform has plenty of features to help you manage your employees from the day you recruit them to their last day with your company. Its comprehensive features are what led us to select BambooHR as the best software for employee performance management.

Editor's Score: 7.42/10

BambooHR has two paid plans, Essentials and Advantage; prices are per employee, and you pay monthly rather than upfront annually. You can add on other services, too, like TRAXPayroll, time tracking and performance management. To get an estimate of what your total costs would be with these additional modules, you will need to contact the company and provide them with details like how many employees you have, what software functionalities you want, and what your implementation time frame looks like. If you want to try out BambooHR's software, the company offers a seven-day free trial.

BambooHR doesn't have traditional employee monitoring features like application monitoring, keystroke logging, content blocking, or activity tracking; however, with its Performance Management module that you can add to your solution, you can manage employee goals, peer feedback, self- and manager assessments, and employee and company performance reports.

BambooHR is user-friendly and compatible with both desktop and mobile devices. It has a mobile app as well, which comes with employee self-service features like single sign-on, time-off management capabilities, a company calendar, an employee directory and an organization chart. Because BambooHR bundles several features into one software platform, it is ideal for busy business owners who want to manage employee performance as well as perform other functions.

Both the Essentials and Advantage plans come with HR management features like employee records, employee benefits tracking, document storage, workflows and approvals, reports, and email alerts. The Advantage plan is great for business owners who want access to hiring and onboarding features and integrations. It has an applicant tracking system, onboarding and offboarding functions, training tracking and e-signature capabilities.

If you want more employee tracking capabilities than just time-off management and benefits tracking, you can add on the Time Tracking module to gain access to features like daily time entry, timesheets, auto reminders, and auto overtime calculations. Since BambooHR is HR software, you can add payroll features; with TRAXPayroll, you gain access to full-service tax filing, comprehensive reporting, data security, and more. This capability can help you further track employee information in one succinct location.

Some of BambooHR's plans come with audit trails and GDPR compliance. If you have questions with BambooHR, you can access support through phone, email, chat or online resources.

Read BambooHR Review

Controlio: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Video Recording

Controlio offers businesses the flexibility of choosing a cloud or on-premises plan.
Controlio's features include live screen monitoring and video screen recording.
Controlio does not monitor employees' mobile devices.

Controlio, by EfficientLab, is our pick as the best employee monitoring software for video recording. You can track employee behavior with screen snapshots and live video screen recording. You can view employees' screens in real time, or you can view the video recordings to view current or past user behavior. This real-time session information can be important for companies that need to maintain a high level of security over their employees.

Editor's Score: 7.68/10

To get started, you will create an account and then download and install the software on the device you want to monitor. You can log into the web-based dashboard and view device activity from wherever you are located. You can create monitoring profiles for employees to keep them organized. Controlio is a secure platform with two-factor authentication, and it can be used in stealth or tray icon mode.

Controlio helps track file usage and performs web filtering. You can also set behavior rules and alerts so you are instantly notified if an unacceptable or malicious behavior occurs. This level of security management can help employers address insider threats or similar, serious issues as soon as they occur. With the screen recordings, you have proof to support you in an investigation, should it escalate to that level.

Besides capturing recordings of the sites your workers are visiting, Controlio records keystrokes. Data is stored up to six months. Controlio also offers insight with productivity scores. These scores can be for employees and departments, and are a great way to track employee and team productivity.

Controlio costs $7.99 per user per month, or $79.90 per user per year. You can try out the product with a 14-day free trial (for up to three users). Although you might not be able to track your entire team with the trial, you can gain enough of an idea of its capabilities to know if the software is right for your business.

To learn more about how Controlio works, you can sign up to watch a demo. Controlio customer care representatives are available by phone, email or live chat 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.

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Veriato: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Enterprises

Veriato offers cloud and on-premises solutions.
It has employee monitoring and insider threat detection features.
The software can be complex to learn.

Veriato is a robust employee monitoring and insider threat detection solution suited for businesses in the financial, healthcare, technology, government, and manufacturing industries. It gives companies complete insight into employee behavior and control over what you want to monitor. The scope of Veriato's monitoring capabilities led us to select it as the best employee monitoring solution for enterprises.

Editor's Score: 8.62/10

Large businesses can use Veriato's software for remote employee monitoring, workplace productivity, insider threat detection, employee investigations, data loss prevention and forensic investigations.

Veriato offers three plans for Windows and Mac devices: Veriato Cerebral (a cloud-hosted or on-premises option for SMBs and enterprises), Vision (a cloud-hosted option for small businesses), and Investigator (an on-premises option for SMBs and enterprises; a cloud option is available upon request). Pricing isn't listed online, you will need to contact Veriato for a customized price quote. Veriato offers volume discounts, and there are discounts for nonprofit and government organizations. Free trials are available as well.

For enterprises that want both employee monitoring and insider threat detection, we recommend the Cerebral plan, since it offers the most in terms of features and flexibility (e.g., cloud vs. on-premises).

Veriato offers a lot of monitoring features. With its employee monitoring tools, you can monitor user behavior with application monitoring, email monitoring, and website and browser monitoring. You can track document activity and user status, as well as filter websites and block URLs. For a firsthand view of what your employees are doing, there is keystroke logging and screenshot recording. Keep in mind that these features can capture sensitive information and should be used carefully to avoid accessing private employee details like medical information or bank accounts.

Veriato offers productivity scoring and reporting. You can receive productivity alerts, if needed. One somewhat unique, helpful feature of Veriato is its employee disengagement analysis. You can see which employees are engaged and which ones are not. In enterprises, it can be difficult to get a sense of everyone's level of engagement, but this feature solves that problem.

Veriato also offers insider threat detection capabilities, which can be critical to large companies that need to safeguard sensitive information. Veriato's features include user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA), risk scoring, psycholinguistic analyses, and printing and USB device usage detection. It has several notification features like anomaly alerts, event alerts, policy violation alerts, keyword alerts and compliance alerts.

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Work Examiner: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Perpetual Licensing

Work Examiner licenses include one year of support and updates.
Reports can be exported and sent to admins and managers based on a customized schedule.
Work Examiner is an on-premises monitoring solution for Windows devices only.

Work Examiner, by EfficientLab, is an on-premises employee monitoring software program for Windows devices. It offers several features that help businesses monitor and track their employees. For example, it tracks when employees are actively working and when their devices are idle. You can also see what websites they visit, the applications they access, what emails they are sending and which files they download. You can see screenshots of user activity and access real-time and recorded screens. Unlike other employee monitoring programs we reviewed, Work Examiner can record multiple screen displays.

Editor's Score: 7.76/10

Another stealth feature Work Examiner has is keylogging. The software can record what letters, numbers, and special keys an employee is typing and then display this information in an easy-to-read report. To prevent employees from accessing inappropriate or harmful content, there are tools for web filtering, HTTPS filtering (it blocks sites like Facebook) and content-based blocking. Alerts can be set up for certain behaviors so you can address problems as soon as they arise.

Admins and managers can export reports and have them sent to their email (as a PDF) based on a customizable schedule.

There is a one-time licensing fee for Work Examiner, and employers choose one of two plans: There is the Standard plan, which is suited for smaller businesses that have a smaller number of users; or the Professional plan, which is designed for larger enterprises and a higher number of users. EfficientLab recommends Work Examiner Standard for under 50 PC licenses and the Professional plan for companies needing hundreds of licenses.

EfficientLab has an online calculator on its website, where you can calculate your costs for the software. You can also use the online form to request a quote from the company.

The software's licenses include one year of support and updates. Users can try out a fully functional version of the product for 30 days free of charge. The trial supports up to five employees.

 

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WorkPuls: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Employee Privacy

Workpuls has a stealth mode and a visible mode.
The software offers time and attendance tracking and manual time entries.
Only enterprise accounts have role-based access and audit logs.

Workpuls is a great solution for companies that want to monitor employee activity, but still want employees to maintain some privacy. Workpuls comes with all the standard features you need to successfully monitor employees on Mac and Windows devices. On company-owned computers, you can run the software visibly, in which case employees are aware their activities are being monitored, or in stealth mode, in which employees aren't aware they are being watched. On employee-owned devices, you can run the software in visible mode when the employee is clocked in. By running the software in visible mode, employees can feel more in control over how they are monitored.

Editor's Score: 7.66/10

May 2021: To allow administrators, managers, and employees to quickly sign into the Workpuls platform while still maintaining privacy and security, Workpuls now offers enterprise single sign-on (SSO) capabilities. Users can register and log in using any SSO software (e.g., Azure, Centrify, Okta, OneLogin, etc.)

Workpuls monitors activities in real time, so you can get an up-to-date view of your staff's activities. You can track an employee's attendance, and users have the added capability of manual time entries, which allows them to adjust their work hours to accurately reflect the time they worked.

You can also track employee productivity, website and application usage, as well as the amount of time they spend on each project or task. This can be helpful for gauging efficiency and estimating time frames for future projects.

With Workpuls' employee monitoring solution, you can take up to 30 screenshots per hour (or purchase manual or additional screenshots); however, employers should use caution with these. Be upfront with your team if you intend to take screenshots, and if private information, like bank accounts or medical documents, is accidentally snapped, dispose of it immediately. Enterprise users have access to additional features like role-based access, audit logs, dedicated account managers and on-premises deployment. Those who want to store their data on-premises must buy licenses for at least 100 employees.

The employee monitoring plan costs $4.80 per employee per month (if you pay upfront annually), or $6 per employee per month (if you choose to be billed monthly). There is a time-tracking plan for $6.40 per employee per month (billed annually), or $8 per employee per month (billed monthly) and an auto time mapping plan for $12 per employee per month (billed annually) or $15 per employee per month (billed monthly).

Enterprise organizations looking for cloud or on-premises features must contact Workpuls for a custom quote. Some plans let you add on features like raw data, additional screenshots, manual screenshots, and alerts (project management integrations, payroll integrations, budgets, and client logins are coming soon). Users can try out Workpuls with a seven-day free trial.

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Employee Monitoring Software Pricing

 

There are two cost structures for employee monitoring software. Some vendors rely on a per-user licensing system charged at a monthly or annual rate. Other software vendors charge a one-time licensing fee that means allows the software to be used forever, though there is typically an annual subscription for tech support and software updates that you have to pay. The cost of employee monitoring software can vary widely, with factors like the scope of the solution and the number of licenses you require affecting the price.

Some employee monitoring software can be deployed as an on-premises solution, which means the software is installed and operated on your company's own servers. This type of monitoring implementation has a higher upfront cost and requires an IT team to maintain and update it, but it grants you greater control over your own data. 

Another common deployment option is a cloud-based service (or SaaS), which doesn't require maintenance, and it has a lower upfront cost. However, there's a monthly or annual subscription required – typically from $5 to $25 per user per month. 

Some companies offer free employee monitoring plans, but these often come with very limited features and accessibility.

Here are three things to pay attention to when you're evaluating pricing: 

  • Minimums: Few companies allow you to buy a single license. There's typically a minimum number of licenses you must buy, usually five to 10, though some require as few as two.

  • Fees: Most companies don't charge additional fees, but in our research, we saw some setup fees (which can be several hundred dollars) and an optional IP renewal fee. As with any service you're considering for your business, ask the sales rep about fees the company charges and whether there's a contract requirement (and how long the contract would last, if so). You also want to read the contract or terms of service to verify that you've been informed about all costs you'll be expected to pay.

  • Add-on features: Some companies offer extra services, such as geolocation tracking and mobile licenses, for an additional cost. 

Bottom LineBottom Line: Employee monitoring software typically costs between $5 and $25 per user per month, billed monthly or annually.

Negotiation Tips

Most employee monitoring software companies are transparent with their pricing and post rates on their websites. However, if you have a lot of employees, most companies have custom pricing, so you will have to contact the company and give them some specifics, like the number of licenses you're interested in. 

See if the following discounts are available as you compare costs among employee monitoring software solutions:

  • Volume discounts: Many companies offer lower prices when you purchase a higher number of licenses.
  • Annual prepayment discounts for cloud software (SaaS): The companies that offer cloud-based employee monitoring software typically offer a discount if you pay annually rather than month to month, which can amount to as much as two free months of service.
  • Nonprofit and educational discounts: Several companies note on their websites that discounts are available for these types of organizations.

Buying Guide

What Is Employee Monitoring Software?

Employee monitoring software is a digital solution that provides a way for businesses to monitor, record and manage employees' online behavior while they are on company time. Whether you have a few employees or several hundred, the software is useful to have, because there are a lot of distractions in the modern workplace for both on-site and remote employees, especially for those who use internet-connected devices to complete their daily tasks.

And, while employees can be trusted to do the right thing most of the time, there is always an opportunity for them to engage in unproductive behavior on company time. Worse yet, employees could be insider threats – exhibiting reckless or malicious behavior that jeopardizes your business.

What Can You Track With Employee Monitoring Software?

With employee monitoring software, you can track employee activity and productivity. The most basic features include web browsing, which allows you to monitor websites visited by employees; application monitoring, which shows you specific applications employees use; and activity tracking, which monitors keyboard and mouse activity so you can detect whether employees are actually working during their work hours. 

Many solutions include keystroke logging, which tracks what users type across web browsers and applications – including chat messages and emails – along with a date and time stamp, and it can be an incredibly useful window into user activity. Some applications even look through the devices' cameras.

Employee monitoring software includes a wide range of features to keep tabs on how employees spend their time at work. The best monitoring software lets administrators set specific rules and policies for different members of the organization and receive notifications when the rules have been broken. 

Whether you run a big company with hundreds of employees or a small business with a handful of workers, there is software that fits your needs and budget.

TipTip: Before looking for an employee monitoring software, determine what type of employee activity you want to track, and why. Some businesses may need extensive monitoring solutions, whereas others can save money with more basic software.

Types of Employee Monitoring

There are different types of monitoring that businesses can use to optimize their operations. Here are three of the most common methods. 

  1. Software monitoring. This is another term for employee monitoring software. This is software you install on user computers to track activities. Depending on the application you choose, it can track the websites the employee visits, the programs they use and every keystroke they make on their computer. Most take random screenshots of user screens and allow you to see user screens in real time. Some even use the camera to take photos of the computer user to verify the employee is at their desk.

  2. Email monitoring. This allows you to view the emails your employees send and receive using their company email accounts. This is often available as a feature of employee monitoring software but can also be purchased as a stand-alone application (sometimes called email server monitoring).

  3. Network monitoring. Instead of monitoring your employees, this is an IT process that checks your network to make sure all components (routers, servers, firewalls, etc.) are functioning properly, with the goal of eliminating network downtime.

Small Business Employee Monitoring Software: What to Look For

The best small business employee monitoring software 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 employees attempt to leak vital business information, access inappropriate content or simply waste time goofing off 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? Are there websites your employees need to access to do their jobs?

With some software applications, you can select times when the internet or sites are blocked and times they're not blocked. Most applications also let you create user groups, each with their own rules and permissions. Blocking disruptive sites and creating customized permissions for specific groups is one way that business internet software can help increase employee efficiency and productivity. 

Time Tracking and Activity Monitoring

Many businesses use employee monitoring software to track employee working hours. The software can include login/logout features so employees can record the time they spend working. A popular employee monitoring feature is activity tracking. This feature tracks 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 activity" in terms of 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 are excelling 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 applications they use, along with emails, online chats, created and downloaded files, print jobs, inserted devices, and even their 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, many are customizable, so you can decide what exactly you want to record (and in how much detail), as well as what the exceptions are. 

Screenshots and Keystroke Recording

Depending on your reason for using employee monitoring software, you may want software that records 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 keystroke logging; although, keep in mind, this feature can be considered invasive and is not offered by all software providers.

Reports and Notifications

Pay attention to the software's reports and notifications 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.

Archive Storage

Make sure your office web monitoring software includes automatic archiving. You never know when you may need to review an employee's internet history. 

Mobile Apps

In addition to dashboards you can access from any browser, the best employee monitoring software comes with mobile apps that managers can use when they're away from the office. Although some have both Android and iPhone apps, some are platform-specific, so if this is a feature that's important to you, verify that the app is compatible with the operating system you use. 

Ease of Use and Support

Good internet filter software should be intuitive to use, with visually appealing interfaces that clearly and neatly display all the options without being cluttered and overwhelming. Administrative users should feel confident using the software; one should have a good grasp of the application's monitoring options after a few minutes of clicking around. 

If you run into issues, though, you want to work with a company that is easy to reach. You should be able to reach tech support by phone, email, live chat, or online ticketing, 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 that you can always refer to, 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.

Legal and Technical Considerations of Employee Monitoring Software

While monitoring employees' computer and internet usage seems like an infringement of employee privacy, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that it is legal for companies to monitor employees' actions while they are on the clock or using company equipment, including laptops, pagers, USB drives and mobile devices. However, there have never been any regulations on the type of programs companies can use to monitor employees. This means you can use programs that monitor keystrokes and capture passwords; however, there is some ethical controversy surrounding whether these features should be used. 

While the federal government doesn't place restrictions on employee internet monitoring, some individual states have protections in place. An increasing number of states require employers to notify their workers if they monitor online activity, including emails and keystrokes. You can disclose this within your use policy, the employee handbook, as part of the new worker orientation or simply send out an email reminder to employees. 

FYIFYI: Employees tend to have a higher expectation of privacy on their personal devices, making them riskier to monitor. If you want to monitor employees' personal devices, take extra precautions by creating an explicit bring-your-own-device policy for them to sign.

Also, employee monitoring software (and how employers use it) could be impacted by the passage of new data privacy laws in the U.S. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), for example, includes provisions that give individual employees the right to request certain businesses disclose the personal information that has been collected about them. Businesses could also be required to notify individual employees when personal information has been collected and how that information is being used.

These provisions could extend to employee monitoring and require a revisiting of company policy. 

If your business is subject to the CCPA or similar data privacy regulation, consider whether the employee data you are collecting serves a clear business purpose. Consider as well how long you need to store that data in addition to ensuring it is properly protected from data breaches. Failure to prepare in accordance with data privacy laws could result in fines and lawsuits.

 

Employee Monitoring FAQs

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF EMPLOYEE MONITORING SOFTWARE?

Employee monitoring software can benefit your company in multiple ways, primarily regarding productivity and security.

Employee Productivity

Monitoring your employees' device usage can be a good way to motivate them to use their time wisely. With features that allow you to track employee activity (e.g., mouse activity and keystroke logging, webcam recording), you can ensure your team is actively working at their computers when they say they are. Tracking and archiving employee activity can also be helpful if you need proof of a disgruntled former employee's poor behavior.

Company Security

Employee monitoring software can also help protect your business and your network. Features like website tracking, content filtering and screen captures can help ensure your team is working on the proper websites and applications, instead of viewing malicious websites or performing harmful activities. Features like email, USB and print monitoring are great for making sure confidential data isn't leaked. You can also use network monitoring to track the functionality of all your network components and reduce network downtime.

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF EMPLOYEE MONITORING SOFTWARE?

Although there are many benefits to using employee monitoring software, there are a few potential disadvantages.

Employee Morale and Trust

Employers must walk a fine line when implementing the software for the first time. Employees may view it as a lack of trust in them, which can eventually breed resentment and lower company morale. No one likes feeling like they are being watched, and employee monitoring software could be seen as a loss of privacy. To reduce employee turnover or resentment, explain your reasons for using the software and emphasize how it will benefit the company.

Data Comprehension

Another potential drawback is the amount of time it can take to condense and comprehend the data that is compiled from the software. This software offers a plethora of information that can help businesses improve security and streamline their processes, but it may take a little extra work to decipher the most important data points.

Access to Sensitive Information

If you are implementing employee monitoring software for the first time, you should also be aware of the potential privacy and security risks. It may seem counterintuitive, since this software is meant to protect your network, but it is likely that you'll eventually stumble across private employee data, like health records or bank account information. To reduce this risk, make it clear to employees what they should and should not access on company devices.

WHAT IS SILENT MODE?

You can run employee monitoring software in either stealth mode or transparent mode. Stealth mode, also known as silent mode, means employees aren't aware they are being monitored. Transparent monitoring is when your employees can see the surveillance program on their computers. 

IS CLOUD OR ON-PREMISES EMPLOYEE MONITORING SOFTWARE BETTER?

The best type of deployment depends on your business, and most of the top software applications offer both options. With an on-premises solution, you'll host the software and the data it collects on your server – which means that you can keep your data as long as you want. But an on-premises solution requires more IT knowledge and can take longer to set up. 

With cloud-based software, it's easier to manage and quicker to set up than on-premises deployment, and you don't have to have a server to store all your data. But you must trust the vendor to maintain and protect your data. 

IS EMPLOYEE MONITORING SOFTWARE SECURE?

For the most part, yes. Employee tracking software is designed to be installed on multiple computers, including an administrative station. For this type of program to work, you must first turn off your firewall. The firewall is turned back on once the installation is complete. This punctures a hole in your security system for a short period of time, making your network vulnerable to viruses, Trojans, spyware and other threats.

A word of caution: Some employee surveillance programs look legitimate but are really viruses in disguise. While it may give you keylogging and password-capturing capabilities, it collects this information behind the scenes to sell or use to breach your company's security measures. We did extensive research to ensure the legitimacy of each of the programs we reviewed. However, since most of these programs work around your firewall, it is still possible for other threats to pass through undetected. 

CAN I USE AN EMPLOYEE MONITORING SYSTEM FOR MY REMOTE TEAM?

Yes, if your business owns the computers that your employees use, you can install computer monitoring software on them. You can even run monitoring on silent mode. But if your remote worker is using their personal computer for work, they're not likely to consent to having tracking software installed on it. One solution might be to use a transparent monitoring app like Hubstaff that only tracks usage when the employee is clocked in to work.

WILL MY EMPLOYEES KNOW THEY ARE BEING MONITORED?

This depends on the software you use and the mode you deploy. For example, you can use employee monitoring software in stealth mode, which does not let your employees know they are being monitored. Conversely, you can use employee monitoring software in transparent mode, which allows employees to see the surveillance software on their device. It is up to you whether you inform your employees whether they are being surveilled or not. There are no current federal laws that require you to notify staff they are being monitored, although some states have their own limitations and requirements.

HOW DO I GET MY TEAM ON BOARD WITH EMPLOYEE MONITORING SOFTWARE?

If an employee is using a company device to perform their work responsibilities, there is practically no expectation of privacy on said device. It is within your legal rights to install monitoring software to track their performance and productivity. However, just because it is legal doesn't always mean they will be supportive of it.

Start with open communication. For example, workers are more likely to be receptive if they understand the reasoning behind it. Instead of secretly installing tracking software or letting your employees think you don't trust them, have a transparent discussion with your team to explain how the software can benefit your company. Focus on areas such as increased business security, employee development and overall productivity.

 

 

Community Expert Insight

We asked small business owners and leaders to share what employee monitoring software they use and what features they rely on. 

Most of our respondents said they wanted to make sure their team members were staying productive while on the clock. They also mentioned affordability, ease of use, and several expressed discomfort at monitoring their employees. For these reasons, it wasn't a surprise that the majority of our respondents use Hubstaff, which focuses on monitoring employee productivity and is a transparent application that users interact with, so employees know they are being tracked when they're on the clock. 

"I felt I needed more transparency as far as what my team members were doing with their time," said Ian Kelly, vice president of operations for NuLeaf Naturals. "I've been using Hubstaff to monitor the clock and screenshots from employees working from home. This reassures me that we're getting billed for the right hours, and I think it helps the team focus on their work when they're working, knowing that they're being held accountable." 

Jeremy Lessaris, founder and CEO of The Designed Company, also cites productivity as his reason for using employee monitoring software, and to do this, he uses ActivTrak. He said, "After having tossed out 10 different tools over the years, we landed on tracking internal productivity down to the mouse movement with ActivTrak. It's important to note that we don't really focus on it unless we have a production problem, but it's a robust tool that lets us see what's really going on during the day." 

Many small business leaders said that reporting and notification features were important to them. 

Bradley Steven, founder and CEO of LLC Formations told us that his leadership team meets monthly to discuss employee performance, and they review the reports generated by their employee monitoring software, Teramind. 

"We consult these reports for giving bonuses to the employees, promoting them, or even terminating them because of their performance," he said. "Detailed report generation is a must-have feature for the monitoring software. After all, monitoring is of no use if we do not get valuable insights from the data."

 

Our Methodology

Our first step in reviewing employee monitoring software was to examine an extensive list of vendors, how they stacked up in terms of user reviews, and whether they had any glaring complaints or issues filed with the Better Business Bureau. We also examined their websites to get a sense of what their solutions entailed. From there, we selected a pool of finalists from which we would determine our best picks. 

We then studied each program's list of features more closely, ensuring that it offered all the most important features as well as more advanced features that would give administrators more insight or control over employee activity. We downloaded free trials, when available, and watched video demos and tutorials so we could determine usability. We also compared pricing from the lens of a small business on a budget. 

These are the primary features we considered in our review: 

  • Ease of use
  • Time tracking
  • Website and application monitoring
  • Activity tracking
  • Email monitoring
  • Social media monitoring
  • Keystroke logging
  • Screenshots
  • Video feeds
  • Content filtering and website blocking
  • Remote access capabilities
  • Reporting
  • Security
  • Tech support 

We also looked for any additional features that might be useful or effective.

What to Expect in 2021

When small businesses abruptly transitioned to remote work in 2020, they implemented operational changes and technology tools. One such tool was employee monitoring software. Many employers used employee monitoring software to remotely track employee productivity. As businesses continue to adjust to the coronavirus pandemic, and all that it brings with it, we anticipate the number of businesses using employee monitoring software to increase.

Companies using the software for the first time need to stay informed about the labor and employment laws protecting employee information. For example, explicit, written consent is an increasingly common legal requirement for data collection and storage, as seen with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act. 

Employers considering implementing employee monitoring software should research the laws in their state and assess how using employee monitoring software, but not informing employees that their activities are being watched, can affect company morale.

Businesses should look for software that allows them to track the specific employee information they need, and business owners should inform employees about how (and why) they are using the software.

Skye Schooley
Skye Schooley
business.com Staff
See Skye Schooley's Profile
Skye Schooley is a staff writer at business.com and Business News Daily, where she has written more than 200 articles on B2B-focused topics including human resources operations, management leadership, and business technology. In addition to researching and analyzing products that help business owners launch and grow their business, Skye writes on topics aimed at building better professional culture, like protecting employee privacy, managing human capital, improving communication, and fostering workplace diversity and culture.
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