Guidelines for Monitoring Employee Internet Use and Productivity
by Richard Delaney, CTO
During the age of Covid-19 remote workforces are driving an updated need for employers to monitor their employees' work productivity and how time is spent on the internet.
Employee productivity monitoring has evolved, giving organizations key user behavior insights to understand how work gets done; however, there are advantages and disadvantages to monitoring your employees’ online behavior as well as their use of business applications. Should you monitor employees? Here are some guidelines for you to follow to help avoid HR issues and have a smooth implementation process.
The Case for Monitoring Your Employees' Online Activity and Productivity
The primary uses for employee monitoring software include the measuring employee work performance, prevention of illegal activities, avoiding sensitive data leakage, and catching insider cybersecurity threats.
Protect your organization from data theft or harm – because careless or disgruntled employees may leak or steal your data.
Monitoring identifies the work characteristics of your productive employees and helps you model behavior for less productive employees and likewise helps you identify unproductive employees and apply corrective measures.
Helps ensure you have a harassment-free workplace – because cyberharassment (sexual or otherwise) happens among employees.
Ensure members of your staff comply with internet and technology usage policies – such as not downloading illegal programs or spending time on websites with hostile or unlawful content.
Provide evidence in case of a lawsuit – should an employee participate in illegal activities using your business’s computers (heaven forbid!), monitoring their device can provide evidence of their involvement.
Ensure users comply with state or federal cybersecurity policies
The Case Against Employee Monitoring
Productivity loss – monitoring can put a damper on employee morale, and you may see the distrust leading to productivity losses.
Lost privacy and lawsuits – you’ll likely learn personal details about your employees that you would’ve never known about had you not monitored them. You may discover their political or religious views, sexual orientation, or medical problems, which could This subjects your business to potential privacy or discrimination issues if you or your management team acts negatively based on any of this information.
Many business owners who monitor their employees often discover that their staff members aren’t focused solely on the company’s success. The challenge is balancing the line between using it as a surveillance mechanism that runs the risk of causing a toxic relationship with employees who feel that there is distrust and using it as a productivity tool strategically involving your employees in the conversation to build a culture of transparency and collaboration.
Effectively implementing employee monitoring has some guidelines to consider.
Create written policies
When you monitor your employees, ask yourself: “Am I doing this for security purposes? Is it to ensure my employees aren’t wasting time on games or social media?” If your monitoring policies are too strict, you could create an atmosphere of distrust.
Set guidelines for acceptable use of email and social media, web browsing, instant messaging, and downloading software and apps. Also, make sure to include how monitoring will be carried out and by whom and how data will be used, secured, and destroyed.
Tell your employees
It’s essential to inform your employees about the scope of your monitoring policies. If they find out you’re doing it secretly, you could face legal issues. By being transparent, you may see a boost in productivity by deterring employees from wasting time on the web.
When you tell your employees, explain why you’re doing it and the risks your business faces from the misuse of digital assets. Reassure them you’re not doing it to spy on their personal life, but to create a compliant and law-abiding workplace. Because their activities will now be less private, encourage your staff to use their smartphones for personal matters. Also, provide your employees with a copy of your written policy for them to read and sign.