Since the beginning of 2020, the demand for employee monitoring software has more than doubled. And it’s only natural – given the transition to the WFH mode, executives have been challenged to find new methods of supervising their subordinates. Yet the question is, just how painless has this shift to the new reality been? Today we’ll discuss employees’ overall reactions to the monitoring and figure out how to implement monitoring software with minimal disruption and optimal efficiency.
How do employees feel about being monitored?
It’s important to note that the very idea of surveillance sounds somewhat hostile. If you ask anyone, “Would you want your every action to be tracked?" they are 99% likely to respond, “I certainly would not!” And if employee monitoring is introduced in a careless way, the same reaction ensues – your team will express negative attitude toward such monitoring and reject its very premise.
Let's say you issue a company order and notify your subordinates about it:
“Starting tomorrow, we will track your every action at the computer. Moreover, disciplinary measures will be introduced. If you get distracted for more than 5 minutes, you receive a warning. If you open a news site during your working hours, you get a deduction from your bonus. If you fail to reach a productivity level of over 80% by the end of the workday, you are fined, etc. Sign below to acknowledge that you have read, understand, and agree to the new policy. And let's get on with our workday.”
A change like this will have a serious impact on your employees’ emotional well-being. People will feel confusion, frustration, and even anger toward the company and you in particular. This will lead to employees experiencing burnout and a significant drop in productivity, with many of them going on sick leave or quitting their jobs altogether.
The thing is, it is impossible for an employee to feel comfortable at work if they are constantly supervised – especially if such surveillance entails negative consequences, such as fines, reprimands or potential conflicts inside the team.
A reasonable question arises: should monitoring be abandoned altogether then? And the answer is no, it definitely should not. This tool has already proven its efficiency, and we have conducted numerous studies on the subject of proper monitoring and its impact on the company’s performance. The point is that you need to make sure that such monitoring is conducted in the least invasive and most ethical way.
That's why the ethics of monitoring employee productivity have become so important. To get positive results from such monitoring, you need to make it as comfortable for everyone as possible.
How to establish ethical employee monitoring and how it differs from surveillance?
Let’s be clear, you are already supervising your employees, and everyone is fine with that. Every employee knows that their supervisor is monitoring them regarding things like meeting deadlines, adhering to company standards, and so on. Members of your team get paid for the time they spend working, and it’s up to you to make sure they’re being paid for actually contributing to the business processes.
Quite often the issues arise when the control becomes overwhelmingly strict and excessive. We have covered such an issue at length in our article on computer monitoring from the employee’s perspective – the moment the supervisor tightened their grip, the employee quite literally sank into the depths of stress. And no one can function in such conditions for an extended period of time.
So, it’s up to you to find an appropriate balance when using monitoring tools, one that will suit both the supervisor and the subordinates. To simplify this task, we’ve outlined five basic rules for you to follow.
Rule 1. Use employee monitoring software as a tool for analytics rather than punitive action.
When you begin monitoring your employees, you ultimately have one primary goal in mind – to increase their productivity. While fines and other disciplinary actions may be helpful, they usually do the trick only when it comes to genuinely difficult employees, such as the connoisseurs of procrastination. Whereas those employees who generally do their job pretty well need a more gentle and considerate approach.
Kickidler employee monitoring software highlights the problem area for you – “employee A took too long to complete task B.” Before you respond to the situation, try to look into the reasons why it happened, there’s always a possibility that the specialist got busy on another, higher-priority project. Maybe the employee lacked qualifications and spent a lot of time studying educational resources. Or maybe they’re having personal issues that are affecting their work, and it might be better to show concern for them instead of issuing a fine in terms of their loyalty in the long run.
There are all kinds of circumstances, and monitoring is useful precisely because it provides you with the most comprehensive data. You know exactly how productive your employees typically are, who’s good at which tasks and what problems arise. You can do more than simply impose fines and penalties. Try to redistribute the workload, arrange employee training courses, adjust the schedules of your specialists and so on. So experiment and try to improve the situation comprehensively, then you’re bound to see your performance indicators go up.
Rule 2. Be as transparent as possible
This one is simple: employees should be aware that you’re monitoring them. Explain to people what data you will be collecting, for what purpose and how. Otherwise, the staff will perceive any monitoring as a form of surveillance, since people tend to assume the absolute worst. Make it absolutely clear to your employees that you don’t intend to smother them with fines, you just need to collect as much statistics as possible so that everybody can be more productive and feel more comfortable.
For example, establish an unspoken rule that whenever an employee demonstrates acceptable levels of productivity, you guarantee not to monitor their screen, keystroke logs or video recordings of their activity. Such actions will only be taken against malicious procrastinators.
Covert monitoring may also occur, but we recommend using this method solely in one case – when you already suspect that one of your subordinates is proactively damaging the company. For example, when you are looking for an insider job.
Rule 3. Intervene only when it is absolutely necessary
Your every response, such as a phone call along the lines of “Nick, you’ve been doing nothing for the past half an hour,” will create unnecessary tension. You don’t need to remind your employees that you’re observing them; instead, let them supervise themselves.
Kickidler has an Autokick feature for this very purpose. It’s designed to automatically notify your employees of any violations they commit (for example, if they’re being idle for too long). Moreover, each specialist has access to their personal productivity statistics. All you need to do is explain to your subordinates that you rely on Kickidler data when you calculate bonuses or consider promotions, and people will start to monitor their performance themselves. It’s a win-win situation – employee productivity increases and the pressure from management decreases.
Rule 4. Create a comprehensive approach
Kickidler collects tons of valuable data, such as the amount of time you spend at your computer, statistics on the apps you use, logs of your web browsing history, and so on. But you should never rely solely upon this data, and you should definitely combine it with other metrics.
Let’s suppose you have a sales manager who spends half the day browsing entertainment sites. Should it immediately be considered a bad thing? Pretty much, yes, but what if we take a look at specific reports and realize that this very person generates the most revenue for the company?
Is this employee actually doing a bad job? Well, if we base our opinion solely on data from Kickidler, then yes. However, if we look at the overall picture, we realize that this employee is doing a great job, although, sure, he could be doing more. Here, Kickidler employee monitoring software helps you find out precisely how much potential there is for growth, and you need to be very careful in making decisions. For example, there’s always a possibility that the manager is simultaneously talking on the phone and scrolling down their Instagram feed; it’s entirely possible and it’s not the end of the world.
Although, based on our own experience, the most productive employees in most cases are also the most efficient ones. By the way, we’re going to publish a client case regarding this topic quite soon.
The opposite can also be true. An employee may be considered the most productive one and at the same time fall behind in terms of their actual efficiency. This usually indicates that they’re not sufficiently qualified. You should always take into consideration all the data you gather with various metrics and tools. That way, you’ll get the most comprehensive picture of what’s going on in your company.
Rule 5. Remember the reasons why you’re doing all this
Your ultimate desire when implementing monitoring software is not to turn your employees’ lives into complete hell of constant supervision, but to help your company make more money. You want your people to work more efficiently – and it actually benefits both you and them.
It is this pursuit of mutual benefit that should remain paramount. Try to improve the situation for everyone involved, and then your subordinates will understand that you introduce employee monitoring to help them rather than to make their lives harder.