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5 Employee Monitoring Myths: Debunked

Is it only for paranoid bosses? Will it crush team morale? Separate fact from fiction by exploring common misconceptions about employee monitoring technology.

Sarah Lowenstein

By Sarah Lowenstein

A laptop screen showing an ActivTrak Security Audit, used for productivity measurement.

Due to the rise in remote work, increasing global business demands, and rapidly changing regulatory and legal requirements, employee monitoring technology has become a critical component to business continuity and success. Having clear visibility into how employees and teams get work done - whether in-office or remote - is key to improving productivity, boosting operational efficiency, and reducing data compliance risks. However, despite the various business-critical benefits, some professionals have hesitations about implementing employee monitoring programs based on these 6 common misconceptions:

Myth 1: Monitoring employees invades their privacy

Reality: Employee monitoring shouldn’t be used to spy on employees or impinge on their privacy. When implemented in a transparent and fair manner, these tools and the data insights they provide help both employers and employees work more efficiently and effectively. Organizations should prioritize and protect employee privacy while using employee monitoring solutions. That’s why we highly recommend being upfront with employees about your monitoring program, including explaining what data you collect and how you intend to use it. This can be documented formally in an official policy, or be done informally with a casual conversation or email. With transparency comes trust, and that is key to alleviating any privacy concerns.

Myth 2: Only management benefits from employee monitoring

Reality: Employees benefit from employee monitoring software in many ways. For example, the tools enable and support the expansion of remote and flexible work opportunities. According to an April 2020 study by Gartner, 74% of companies plan to stick with remote work permanently, even after the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided. Employee monitoring software gives employers the confidence to allow their employees to work from anywhere, breaking down in-office schedule constraints that limit travel opportunities, family and social time, and require costly and stressful commuting. Additionally, the data derived from employee monitoring software can facilitate fair promotions and raises as work outputs are tied to individualized and team data. Because of employee monitoring data, performance reviews can become more objective.

Myth 3: Only suspicious employees should be monitored

Reality: Not only can this open the doors to legal implications around fair treatment but monitoring only some employees robs you of the opportunity to analyze the productivity and operational compliance risks across your entire organization. Take an offensive approach with employee monitoring software. Again, transparency is key. While some organizations are discreet about deploying an employee monitoring program to “catch the bad players,” we strongly recommend being upfront about it. Not only does this help build trust between management and employees, but often when employees are aware of the software, they are less likely to engage in risky behaviors in the first place.

Myth 4: Employee monitoring should just be used for remote employees

Reality: While remote workforces benefit from employee monitoring technology, similar to the myth above, monitoring the activity of only remote employees deprives you of the opportunity to see the full picture of how your organization works. Additionally, even employees who work in-office can use company-owned devices, such as laptops, outside of the office. Whether you can physically see an employee or not, it is impossible to understand true productivity levels and audit for operational compliance risk using eyesight alone.

Myth 5: Employee monitoring will hurt morale

Reality: When employee monitoring software is deployed in a transparent manner, it can actually boost employee and team morale. With the clarity and context of user activity, it’s much easier for managers and employees alike to pinpoint what’s working and what’s not. With productivity dashboards and reports, workflow bottlenecks can quickly be identified and resolved to improve inefficient and frustrating processes. Additionally, managers gain visibility into workload capacity, including overworked and underutilized employees. This enables them to take swift, corrective action and distribute tasks and projects evenly amongst team members. This can prevent damaging effects such as burnout and internal conflicts, facilitating healthier workplaces and improving talent retention.

While the term employee monitoring may cause some raised eyebrows, it’s always important to fact-check assumptions. In order to promote trust and transparency, while respecting employee privacy, employee monitoring programs must prioritize insights versus oversight. When implemented in a fair and transparent manner, employee monitoring technology can facilitate healthier, more productive workplaces. That’s a win-win for employers and employees alike! Interested in starting an employee monitoring program at your company?

Get started with a FREE ActivTrak account (no credit card required).

About ActivTrak

ActivTrak is a workforce productivity and analytics software company that helps teams understand how people work, whether in-office or remote. Our cloud-based user activity monitoring platform collects and analyzes data while providing insights to help organizations be more productive and compliant. With more than 8,000 customers and over 250,000 users of its free version, ActivTrak’s award-winning solution can be configured in minutes to identify operational bottlenecks, flag operational compliance risks, and while providing valuable insights that help employees and employers improve productivity outcomes.

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