08/05/2021, 797 views
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Everything You Need to Know About Implementing Employee Monitoring Software

Is it possible to monitor remote employees with Employee Monitoring Software?

We often receive questions regarding the possibility of monitoring remote employees. We can safely say that yes, such monitoring is possible. Moreover, it is completely necessary to monitor those of your employees who work from home.

It’s natural for executives to expect their employees to work hard for their paychecks. But in order to achieve such level of employee dedication, your staff needs to be monitored. Here comes a sound question – how exactly should this monitoring be carried out?

Not only do we provide comprehensive employee monitoring solution, but we also share a wealth of experience regarding its implementation and configuration, which we have accumulated over the six years we’ve been implementing our software in 60 countries around the globe. We know exactly what you need to do in order to ensure that your EMS delivers maximum benefit to your company by increasing employee productivity, ensuring transparency of work processes and delivering protection from information leaks.

Thus, we bring to your attention an extremely detailed article on the implementation of performance monitoring software, which is going to cover all the questions you may have about the most modern way to monitor your staff.

What is Employee Monitoring Software?

Employee Monitoring Software (EMS) is the type of software that allows you to track the activity of your employees who work at the computers. Unlike Time Trackers, such software has significantly broader functionality and more advanced features, but it also requires more resources:

Time Tracker EMS
Records only the basic things, such as the time the computer was switched on and off, the total time spent on a project, etc. Gathers detailed statistics on employees’ activity at the computer, the apps they used, the browser tabs they opened and so on.
Provides raw information that needs to be analyzed afterwards. Generates detailed analytical reports on employee productivity and other indicators.
Fails to protect companies from fraudulent employees with malicious intent (e.g., in cases of data theft). Monitors suspicious employee activity by sending notifications to supervisors about possible threats (e.g., attempts to copy sensitive data).

We’ll go into more detail on EMS functionality in the corresponding subsection of this article.

When you combine EMS with video surveillance, PACS and call-tracking, it allows executives to automate the process of supervising their employees. Another strong point is that such supervising will be discreet, unobtrusive, and extremely versatile. The latter enables extensive use of EMS in methodologies where traditional KPIs are not very suitable (for example, in Agile).

Employee monitoring software Kickidler

Reasons for implementing EMS

There are seven main reasons to use such software:

  1. It increases employee productivity.
  2. It improves the efficiency of HR department.
  3. It decreases employee turnover.
  4. It encourages self-starters.
  5. It protects from insider malicious activity.
  6. It helps offload supervisors.
  7. It improves employee self-monitoring.

Let’s look more closely into each one.

Reason 1: increasing productivity

The first advantage of Employee Monitoring Software is the most important one. Once the system is in place, your employees will start working more efficiently. It’s significant, given that, let’s admit it, the overall productivity of your staff is far from ideal.

Figures show that an average employee spends only 50% of their time on work-related activities. These statistics are cited by Robert Kegan, one of the most prominent experts in corporate psychology who worked with Bridgewater Associates, Decurion, and Next Jump. People spend the other half of their working day (that’s also paid for out of your pocket) procrastinating, surfing the Web (for example, mindlessly scrolling through Reddit), dealing with personal matters, and trying to create a good impression about themselves.

work-related activities statistics kickidler
According to Blind Survey

There are several free methods how to keep employees from wasting time on social network, such as introducing a properly thought-out motivation system, organizing workshops on time management, and limiting access to social networks or entertainment sites. All of these methods can yield results, but in order to use any of them effectively it’s important for you to get objective information on the following:

  • How things were before you started introducing changes – how much time people spent working, how exactly they were working, and what other activities they were engaged in;
  • How things got after the changes.

This data is vital for you to pinpoint the employees that you should focus your attention on and to understand what effect certain measures have had. All this information can be provided by a properly configured EMS.

We can safely say that the introduction of employee monitoring software helps increase the company’s profit by 15-20%. These are the real data from one of our client’s case Kickidler helped increase the productivity of sales managers, which in turn reduced the abandonment rate from 30% to 15%.

client case kickidler

Reason 2: improving HR efficiency

Your operational results depend on your employees, more specifically, on the HR staff that recruits and trains your team. To perform the job successfully, your HR director needs to:

  • Clearly formulate their expectations of job candidates – what professional skills should they possess? What soft skills are particularly important? What does it take to make an employee fit in?
  • Get transparent feedback on the probation period – what’s a newcomer like? How do they handle their work? How productive are they? Ideally, this information should be gathered in a manner that doesn’t make the specialist suspicious;
  • Be aware of how things currently are in the team – what seminars, workshops, and motivators do the employees need?

Employee monitoring software helps solve these tasks by providing HR with the information they need.

Reason 3: decreasing employee turnover

There is always a problem when an employee decides to leave the company. You have to spend your resources on redistributing existing tasks between other specialists, post job offers, interview candidates, train newcomers and so on. It’s time-consuming and expensive, so it’s essential for every company to reduce the employee turnover rate.

EMS helps solve this problem in two ways:

  1. It helps supervisors track the mood of the employees. We’ve covered in detail the main reasons why employees decide to change jobs – and all of these causes can be clearly identified through reports provided by Kickidler;
  2. It creates a comfortable work environment. Using Employee Monitoring Software, a supervisor doesn’t have to hover over the subordinates to make sure that their performance is evaluated objectively, and that’s very important.

As a result, your people remain loyal to you for years, which benefits everyone.

Reason 4: encouraging self-starters

Employees show greatest results when they’re personally invested in their work and when they strive for self-development and self-improvement. A self-motivated mediocre employee will perform better in the long run than a burnt-out and lazy skilled professional.

But there is a catch. In the beginning, there are almost no self-motivated people in any team. Mundane tasks, lack of support for their ideas, and a common habit to “keep their heads down” push specialists to remain stagnant and quietly go about their day-to-day business. Thus, “sleeping Self-Starters” are born – the people who could achieve a lot, yet they simply waste their talents.

EMS helps identify enthusiastic people within your team and then channel their energy into the right direction.

Reason 5: protecting from malicious activity

This one is simple – almost any company is at risk of encountering an employee who wants to undermine their organization. Some people do it out of a personal grudge against their boss, others do it inadvertently (by clicking the wrong button and deleting the whole database), yet others take a job and plan to leak information to their competitors from the very beginning.

EMS reviews all employees’ actions at their computers, and, if necessary, it can be installed completely covertly. We don’t recommend such a solution when you merely want to monitor the productivity of your team, however, the feature comes in handy when you’re trying to identify an intruder. Here’s where the stealth of EMS becomes helpful.

We’ve provided an example how Kickidler helped catch an insider in one of our articles.

Reason 6: offloading supervisors

Supervising the staff is one of the manager’s fundamental tasks, though it’s by no means the only one. Meeting work-related targets, strategizing company development, resolving particularly complex or controversial issues – executives always have dozens of things that require their attention. If they decide to literally stand over their subordinates’ shoulders, they will have no time for anything else.

Thanks to the Online monitoring functionality of EMS, supervisors can get an overview of their employees’ productivity almost instantaneously, simply by glancing at the grid of the employees’ screens and selecting the tab that shows a certain department:

Online monitoring, Kickidler
Online monitoring, Kickidler

Or by looking at the consolidated report:

Day Details Report, Kickidler
Day Details Report, Kickidler

If necessary, the report can be configured down to the specific actions of a particular employee using the Screen video recording functionality:

Video Recording Kickidler
Video Recording, Kickidler

Automated employee monitoring helps supervisors maintain control over the employees and at the same time saves them a significant amount of time and enables them to concentrate on other tasks.

Reason 7: improving employee self-monitoring

The less executives supervise their subordinates, the better. Ideally, your employees should monitor their productivity themselves, and there are EMS that provide everything needed for that. For example, Kickidler has an Autokick module that was developed to enhance employee self-organization. It:

  • Reports violations automatically (such as 15 minutes of unproductive activity within an hour);
  • Shows specialists analytics on their productivity;
  • Gives recommendations for further improvement.
Self monitoring, Kickidler
Self monitoring, Kickidler

The module is user-friendly, convenient and effective. It reduces the manager’s involvement in the monitoring process with no drop in performance, while also minimising the stress employees experience because of supervision (employee’s thought process is similar to, “I monitor myself, and my boss doesn’t interfere”).

What employees should be monitored with EMS?

To put it briefly, every employee who works at a computer should be monitored. Knowing what your employees are doing during the hours they’re being paid for is never useless. As for which employees are of most interest to managers, Kickidler client polling showed the following data:

Kickidler client polling

As you can see, executives are most interested in monitoring people who work directly with either clients or money. Much interest is shown to those who are constantly busy at the computer – programmers, designers, analysts, and content managers.

Of course, monitoring the sales department takes the lead. It’s understandable – the company’s profit depends on salespeople. One might have the best product on the market, but without a proper sales pitch this product won’t do any good. It’s a bottleneck in all its glory. We’ve covered tips on supervising sales managers.

Another reason for paying close attention to the sales department is the risk of fraudulent schemes – employees taking payoffs, scamming customers, and outright stealing from the company. Kickidler helps identify fraudulent employees. It offers analytics, real-time screen monitoring, and desktop video recording.

What are employees okay with and what annoys them?

The stricter the control you place over your staff (and the more apparent or intrusive that control is) the more negatively people will react. Try sitting over the shoulder of a subordinate and watching them all day – the employee will become frustrated, to say the least.

The same is applicable to EMS. A good monitoring solution should be comprehensive yet inconspicuous. Our experience – and that of our customers – shows that employees divide all bossware features into three categories:

Worry-free zone Worthy of attention Only in certain cases
Gathering data regarding time spent using certain apps and visiting websites Keylogger (gathering data on all pressed keys) Hidden monitoring (employees don’t know that they’re being monitored)
Collecting statistics on the time spent working at the computer (helps with tracking those who love taking smoke breaks, who constantly arrive to work late and so on) Viewing remote desktops, online monitoring of desktops Controlling PC’s camera and microphone
Notifying about workday violations (without the manager’s interference) Taking screenshots of running apps and opened websites Blocking access to certain sites
Showing the employees reports on their productivity Video recording of activity at the PC GPS-tracking of employee’s location
Controlling the printing of documents Monitoring e-mail usage (what was sent to whom and when)
Blocking the installation and usage of certain software Monitoring messengers and social networks (with or without interception of communications)
Remote control over PCs (that’s activated without sending any requests to the employees)
Monitoring the process of working with files (when a certain document was created, opened, copied, etc.)

Therefore, there will be no problems with the basic monitoring tools, such as collecting data on activity. You can also work with the so-called “yellow” zone, which we discussed thoroughly in the corresponding article.

Is it ethical to monitor employees?

From the ethical point of view, everything is simple: supervisors have the right to monitor how their employees spend the time they get paid for. No one argues with that, though questions may arise concerning the line between work and personal matters.

We’ve formulated three basic rules for ethical employee monitoring:

  1. Transparency. Be clear about what data you’re collecting and why you’re collecting it;
  2. Personal space. You should give your employees some privacy in places like smoking areas, lunchrooms, and toilets. These are spaces where monitoring is simply inappropriate;
  3. Gentle response. Putting pressure on staff and micromanaging too much will likely lead to employee meltdowns rather than positive results. Try to act delicately and focus on operational changes, such as improving working conditions, rearranging teams, reassigning tasks, etc.

Overall, the less employees notice your surveillance, the better – but they should be aware of it.

Is it legal to monitor employees?

Yes, monitoring employees is completely legal – as long as you’re not invading their privacy. It’s universal for most countries, such as Singapore, UK, US, Canada, Australia, and we’ve covered it in the corresponding article. Work computers are the property of your company that’s not meant to be used for private correspondence. Thus, as long as you’ve notified your subordinates about monitoring implementing employee monitoring software in the company.

Pros and cons of employee monitoring

To summarize the first part of the article, we can highlight the following arguments in favor and against:

Pros Cons
Increasing employees’ productivity; Negative attitude of employees toward monitoring (we talk more about that and about the ways to neutralize that drawback below);
Increasing supervisor’s work efficiency; Risk of accidentally accessing employees’ personal data (this risk can be minimized with proper instructions and guidelines for staff).
Gathering the data required for analytics;
Ensuring objectivity;
Protecting against malicious users;
Monitoring remote employees.

Ultimately, there are far more pros than cons to implement EMS – and we recommend supervisors to introduce such systems in virtually any company.

What Employee Monitoring Software to choose?

When choosing EMS, you need to take into account two main factors – the functionality of the solution and its cost (unfortunately, there’s not much freeware on the market).

Functionality

Modern employee monitoring software may support the following functions:

Tracking working hours

Tracking working hours Kickidler

Its main function is to track the time when a computer was turned on and off, periods of activity and idle time, running apps, activity in each app and in individual browser tabs – the more detail, the better.

Reports on working time

Analytics that display collected data in an easy-to-process form, for example, through graphs that show how employees spend their workday.

Reports on working time Kickidler

Ideally, the solution should generate comprehensive reports on productivity for the whole company, its departments, groups and project teams as well as for each employee, identifying the most productive and unproductive among them:

employee rating report Kickidler

Online screen monitoring

The ability to observe what’s happening on a subordinate’s desktop at any moment (including times when it needs to be done without their knowledge).

Screen video recording

Recording video upon request or at pre-set (even random) intervals. This function is very important, since video presents an indisputable evidence during conflict resolution (including in court), and it’s much more helpful than merely taking screenshots of monitors once in a while. Moreover, this feature allows supervisors to be aware of employees’ internet usage habits. With EMS supervisors know for certain what exactly the employee was doing on a forbidden site, if such need arises (for example, if they were reading an article on a job search site or updating their resume). It also allows them to see the context and the recipient of any suspicious messages (for example, by searching the word “payoff” supervisors can see in what chat and to whom a certain message was sent).

Keylogger

Keylogger Kickidler

The function of logging all keystrokes on the computer helps monitor conversations in messengers and e-mail.

Remote access

Remote access Kickidler

A convenient additional feature that allows supervisors to connect remotely to employees’ computers to help them solve certain tasks.

Self-monitoring module

Here we can use Kickidler’s Autokick that we’ve mentioned above as an example. Essentially, it’s a set of tools for employee self-management. It allows employees to view reports on their productivity, receive notifications on violations, etc.

Pricing

It can be difficult to compare various solutions – especially since almost all products have different distribution terms and functionality. To make it easier for you, we’ve prepared a comprehensive comparison of the cost of employee monitoring software:

Another thing to keep in mind is that all EMS options are commercial, so it’s simply impossible to develop comprehensive open-source software without proper support.

Price comparison (in US dollars)

Prices are listed for 1 license per user for the entire period/per month

Product 1 month 1 year 3 years Indefinite Note
Kickidler* 9.99 66 / 5.5 132 / 3.67 225 Starting from 1 user
Teramind Starter* - 120 / 10 - - Starting from at least 5 users
Teramind UAM** - 249.96 / 20.83 - - Starting from at least 5 users
Teramind DLP*** - 300 / 25 - - Starting from at least 5 users
ActivTrak Advanced* - 108 / 9 - - Starting from at least 5 users
ActivTrak Premium** - 180 / 15 - - Starting from at least 5 users
Hubstaff Basic 7 - - - Starting from at least 2 users
Hubstaff Premium* 10 - - - Starting from at least 2 users
Hubstaff Enterprise** 20 - - - Starting from at least 2 users
DeskTime PRO 7 72/6 - - Starting from 1 user
DeskTime Premium* 9 96/8 - - Starting from 1 user
DeskTime Enterprise** 14 144 / 12 - - Starting from 1 user
Time Doctor Basic 7 - - - Starting from 1 user
Time Doctor Standart* 10 - - - Starting from 1 user
Time Doctor Premium** 20 - - - Starting from 1 user

Even though there’s no option of free download, we are proud to note that Kickidler is unrivaled in terms of its price to quality ratio on the global market! Moreover, it’s compatible with most common OS, such as Microsoft, Mac, and Linux.

How to prepare for the implementation of Employee Monitoring Software?

The process of EMS integration is always strictly individual, and it depends on the following basic factors:

  • Monitoring objectives;
  • Number of employees in the company;
  • Amount of offices and remote workers;
  • Logistical base of the company;
  • Employee qualifications.

It’s best to start with the technical aspects, and the key question here is, which version to choose – cloud web-based version or in-house server?

On-Premise and On-Cloud: pros and cons

There are two ways to implement employee monitoring software:

  • On-Premise: you install the product on your own devices;
  • On-Cloud: the solution is set up in the cloud.

Here are the main advantages and disadvantages of these options:

On-Cloud On-Premise
Cost-effective in the beginning – there’s no need to spend money on servers and equipment; Cost-effective in the long run – there’s no need to pay a monthly fee to the provider;
Quick: – everything comes already prepared for you, the only thing left to do is to install the solution; Secure: – your data is located on your own servers, there is no possibility for third parties to access it;
Problem-free: – the service provider handles the maintenance. Reliable: – you don’t depend on the provider, and the software never stops working.

Personally, we offer On-Premise access to Kickidler; however, the distribution is cloud-friendly. It can be easily installed on your own servers or in any cloud, so the choice is all yours.

Example of system configuration

Let's take a look at the process of implementing employee monitoring software for a large enterprise.

Background:

  • There are 1,200 workstations to monitor;
  • The head office is located in Moscow;
  • The branch office is located in Novosibirsk;
  • Many employees work remotely.

Our solution:

  • We created 4 personal accounts – 3 for the head office departments, 1 for the branch office in Novosibirsk;
  • We allocated 2-3 servers for each personal account (one server for 150 people, which allowed to store a month’s worth of video recordings of employee screens);
  • Remote employees connected to the workstations via RDP, and their activities on the workstation were monitored by Kickidler;
  • Specialists who chose to work via VPN installed Kickidler on their home PCs. We briefed them on how to switch the program’s grabber on and off so that EMS would not interfere with personal data.

As a result, we covered all of management’s monitoring needs using the bare minimum of resources.

How to inform employees about the monitoring?

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Once you’ve prepared the logistics – you’ve selected the EMS and figured out the way to set it up – you need to notify your employees about the monitoring. We recommend a policy of full transparency. It would be wise to tell them exactly what data you are going to collect and in what way. Doing so will both protect you from potential conflicts and make your employees more productive (click the link above for details).

The announcement could look similar to this:

Example of latter informing employees about the monitoring

We cover this topic (and the situations when hidden monitoring is justified) in more detail in this article

How to maximize the benefits of EMS?

So, now that everything is working and the employees are aware of the monitoring, the implementation stage is over. At this point, it’s important to remember that any monitoring software is simply a tool for the supervisors to use, nothing more. That means that the economic effect of EMS is directly proportional to how well it’s used.

We distinguish three basic principles of effective use of employee monitoring software:

  1. Determine the norms of productivity. Kickidler provides information on performance of all employees, so by taking the numbers of managers for each department and reducing them by 5-10% you can establish standards for all specialists of a subdivision, which will be pretty objective;
  2. Be honest and open. We talked about it in detail earlier – if you’ve decided to begin the monitoring, people should be aware of it;
  3. Don't micromanage. Avoid pressuring your subordinates and don’t create unnecessary stress factors – you should only intervene directly when it’s absolutely necessary.

And keep in mind that EMS isn’t just about identifying violations. EMS can help you with:

  • Tracking how the changes you’re introducing in the company, such as promotions, team restructuring and work environment upgrades, affect the overall productivity;
  • Noticing changes in the private lives of your employees. If an employee becomes sick or has family problems, you’ll be able to notice it before the person burns out;
  • Creating a strong motivation system. It’s important for supervisors to recognize achievements of their employees and be objective, and Kickidler gives you all the resources you need to create such a culture within your company.

Strive to always think outside the box, approaching EMS as a comprehensive system for gathering data on the state of affairs in your company. Use this information to the best of your ability.

Main mistakes when using EMS

There are three common mistakes of employee control that executives make:

  • All sticks, no carrots: Supervisors penalize for any failures and don’t encourage progress.
  • Control for the sake of control: There’s nothing worse than meaningless micromanagement. Constantly standing over your subordinates’ shoulders and being sensitive to their every failure, even the smallest missteps, won’t end well.
  • Lack of impartiality: It’s important for people to know that supervisors are fair and unbiased. If you have favorites, it will frustrate your employees and make them lose their motivation, which in turn will negatively affect your company’s overall performance.

You need to keep in mind that EMS is all about getting your people to work harder. You take a step toward monitoring your employees not to have control over them, but to increase the company’s profitability. So before you go and react to certain events, you should pause and think, “What am I going to achieve with my actions? What will it do for the company?”

Is it possible to monitor remote employees with Employee Monitoring Software?

Remote employees monitoring

Remote employees’ productivity has been an important concern during the past year, and so far there is no clear-cut answer. Some people start showing better results after switching to remote work, while others notice a drop in their productivity. As time passes, some people pull themselves together and become more productive, while other people’s productivity keeps declining. It’s all incredibly individual, and that brings us to the following rules for monitoring remote employees:

  1. Supervision is essential. Ideally, we recommend Kickidler’s Autokick, which helps employees organize themselves and provides supervisors with a means of unobtrusive monitoring;
  2. Arrangements need to be straightforward. All tasks, deadlines and arising issues should be absolutely clear to both you and your employees. Otherwise, no one will have a clue what you’re monitoring and how you’re monitoring that;
  3. It is especially important for the supervisor not to push too hard. Remote work is already stressful for specialists, so it’s vital for them to feel support from their supervisors rather than pressure.

We can illustrate these points with a real-life example – a diary kept by one of our client’s employees after transitioning to remote work. The supervisor was intentionally changing the monitoring tactics during one week, and the results were very telling – the more intense the monitoring was, the harder it was for the employee to do their job well. We suggest you take a look at it

Summary

Employee monitoring software is a powerful tool for the executives to get comprehensive information on what their employees are doing at any given moment at work. Such data helps supervisors make unbiased and informed decisions, increases overall employee productivity and, as a result, boosts the company’s profitability.

The most important thing is to choose the right EMS for you, implement it properly and use it in the right way. Our experts are always ready to help you with that, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

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