How Companies Monitor Their Employees – And is it Even Legal?
06/04/2019, 1840 views
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Every person who buys some goods or services wants to know what exactly he’s paying for. “Employer-employee” relationship doesn’t differ from that at all. By employing a person and paying them salary, the business owner wants to be sure that this person carries out their duties – and does it efficiently. That’s the reason companies monitor their employees, and they do it closer and closer each year.
Let's look, for example, at annual statistics of American Management Association. According to the organization, in 1997 only 35% of large companies used some type of electronic control over employees in the workplace – and in 2018 similar methods were being used by 80% of organizations. Similar data are provided by Crowd Research Partners. The cyber security experts claim that at the moment 94% of big companies use some kind of employee monitoring system.
The employees would think that this type of control – monitoring their desktop activity, control of their activity at the computer, etc. – is a complete overkill. There are constant arguments about respecting human rights, prohibiting monitoring in general and, after all, the ethical part of the question.
Why employers monitor their employees?
The answer is quite simple – money. A company pays every employee salary, and, generally, this salary is linked to the number of the hours that the employee has worked. That’s why the employer wants to make sure that the time he pays for is well spent (meaning, that their employees are being efficient and productive during their working hours). Unfortunately, evidence shows that employers can’t just trust their employees when it comes to this question.
Statistics is disappointing – according to a simple survey by HeadHunter website, 86% of people have admitted they spend a big part of their time at work not actually working per se. Social media, news outlets, different websites, messengers – there are dozens of ways to distract yourself from a boring routine… and the company will still be paying for all that if it happens at the workplace.
Western statistics shows the same results. According to OnlineMBA, on average people spend 3 hours doing nothing every day at work – and that’s not counting lunch breaks. And that’s the statistics for diligent, just slightly relaxed people. There are still employees who deliberately harm the company – they intentionally procrastinate for hours and try their best to slack off. Of course, companies want to avoid wasting money on such people, and that’s why bosses have to monitor their employees. That’s why services that provide complete control over employees in a workplace are emerging.
How to monitor employees’ performance and their behavior?
Personal control has given way to electronic systems a long time ago. The question is, what kind of system you should choose.
DLP is an acronym for Data Leak Prevention. First of all, such programs are intended to protect the organization from leak of confidential data. These solutions record all traffic, analyze outgoing data and block “dangerous” communications.
Usually, DLP don’t help monitor employees’ behavior – they’re more suited for information security. Besides, such systems are quite complicated and extensive, so usually only big companies choose this type of protection.
This is another type of software that mainly protects company’s data. Usually SIEM – Security Information and Event Management – is used together with DLP. While DLP systems create a so-called “digital perimeter” around the company, SIEM systems collect and analyze data from all network devices and components of the security system. As a result, you get the most detailed logs and know precisely who was doing what at any given moment. But a system like this can’t track efficiency, though that’s not exactly what it’s designed for either.
Programs for blocking the websites
How can you stop your employees from browsing social media during working hours? The answer is, by setting restrictions of inappropriate access to web content, that is, by limiting access to social media sites and other entertainment (inappropriate) content. Services such as Kerio Control create something like the Great Wall around the employees and protect them from terrible influence of entertainment resources. They also stop any unwanted activity with files and extensions.
Unfortunately, a policy like this has many cons. If the employee absolutely needs to respond urgently to the message on Facebook that has something to do with work or watch a tutorial about setup of the program on YouTube, they won’t be able to do that promptly. But at the same time they won’t be able to get distracted by news outlets, which can be useful in terms of productivity.
Besides, the user that knows about VPN, Tor, anonymizers and Opera Turbo can easily bypass this security measure.
Employee Monitoring Software
Now we’re talking about programs that provide direct control over employees in the workplace. Kickidler Employee Monitoring Software belongs to this category. Such software helps keep track of all the important factors – the time an employee came to work and left it, their activity at the computer, their productivity, etc. Taking into account the fact that all activity at the personal computer is controlled, time monitoring system automatically provides a certain level of protection against illegal acts. All the actions will be recorded and later can be easily analyzed.
Thanks to their universality, time monitoring systems can be suitable for companies of any size. They are easily scaled and adjusted specifically for your tasks.
Those are the easiest programs for monitoring the working hours of employees. They simply help record how much time has been spent on a certain task. Usually such software is used when there are freelancers on the team. For full-time employees it may just not be enough. Besides, almost all monitoring systems can substitute as time trackers.
How can you monitor employees’ behavior? Types of control
There are six main points that you should pay attention to:
Activity at the computer (time monitoring);
Control of use of the Internet (analysis of visited sites and running apps);
Analysis of behavior;
Control of activity with files.
Every company has their own priorities, but in general control over an employee in the workplace consists of monitoring the things we’ve mentioned above.
Computer activity monitoring
To monitor attendance of employees, you can record either the time they walk through the doors or the time they turn on their computer. The second option is more precise. It helps monitor the time a person was away from his workplace as well – and understand why he did that.
Employee monitoring system Kickidler records all the periods of activity and all the time the person wasn’t using their computer. At any given moment the program can show you a chart like this:
At the end of the month it can be synchronized with the employee’s work calendar (where all the vacations, business trips, meetings and work schedule in general are recorded). By doing that, you’ll receive full statistics on the hours a certain employee has actually worked.
To personally monitor how your people work, you can just simply monitor their desktops with the help of Kickidler. You choose the necessary function, and an online broadcast of each monitor in the company (or in a certain department) appears on your screen. It looks like this:
Kickidler allows supervisor to control any number of computers, so the opportunities are almost boundless. For example, you can monitor work of remote employees. If you have no time for constant monitoring in real time, you can adjust automatic screenshots. The program will take a picture of the chosen desktop from time to time with random intervals, and you will be able to look at them later.
By the way, our service doesn’t make screenshots. Instead we record proper video 1 frame per second – and we synchronize it with browser history. No other service can offer this option. Firstly, you’ll get the most detailed picture of the employee’s workday; secondly, you’ll be able to filter data by interaction time with certain websites. You can see a whole 8-hour workday in just 8 minutes!
Use of the Internet
This is the detailed analysis of the sites that your employees have visited during the workday. With one click you get a detailed report where you can sort the websites – for example, by productive and unproductive.
Initially Kickidler has about 700 unproductive websites programmed into the list, but it can be easily expanded – or narrowed if necessary.
It is possible to control productivity of your employees just by analyzing the programs they used during the day and the sites they visited. Having combined these data with the time of inactivity, employee monitoring software Kickidler will provide you almost exact coefficient of productivity for each employee:
These data help you find procrastinators and reveal the employees that are experiencing burnout.
Files activity monitoring
In general, such control is a task of DLP, but Kickidler can also help find malicious users. Our service doesn’t intercept files and doesn’t analyze them, but it records all actions of employees at their computer – including working with the file system. Whenever you start feeling suspicious, you can just browse the log of actions of any employee:
Our service also has a “control of violations” function that reports about undesirable actions (for example, sends the notice that an employee has edited a certain file).
User Behavior Monitoring
To be completely honest, at the moment no time tracking software can properly monitor employees’ behavior… but we are getting closer and closer to the emergence of such function. The idea is that the neural network studies a habitual template of behavior of each person in the company – and, having noticed a deviation from it, reports about it. For example, an employee usually sends 10 e-mails a day, but suddenly they’ve sent 200 e-mails. Or they’ve started using different websites. Right now we are working on creating the function of recognizing such anomalies, and the respective options will soon be integrated into Kickidler.
Is monitoring employees legal?
It is completely legal, and we’ve already written about it. But, nevertheless, the employer should pay attention to the following nuances: first, the employer has the right to control employees only during the working hours and at the work computer. Second, the employee has to be warned in writing that his work computer is being monitored.
Is it ethical to monitor employees?
We often hear arguments against monitoring employees, such as:
It violates my rights!
Monitoring pisses people off and reduces productivity;
The sense of trust is therefore lost in the company, and it creates a nervous situation.
There are a lot of arguments, but our practice shows one simple fact – if the system of control over employees in the workplace is used competently, its presence isn’t even noticed. After all, Kickidler is just a tool that you use, so in the end everything is up to you.
It’s important to remember that 100% productivity is almost unattainable – small breaks during the workday is a norm that helps employees get some rest and save their strengths. Kickidler isn’t created for constant micro control over each person. You aren’t supposed to squeeze all the juices out of a person. The main point of the system is to find the employees that are actually slacking off and help figure out why that’s happening.
Your people are your team. They are the group of individuals that you can rely on. And the employee monitoring software just helps find some problems in this group to solve them.
Employee Monitoring Software Kickidler
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