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The Ultimate Employee Monitoring Tool Checklist

Are you in the market for an employee monitoring tool? Reference these checklists to ensure your pick is powerful, easy to use, and key to promoting productivity improvement in your enterprise.

At ActivTrak, we believe that using the right employee monitoring tools can benefit your entire organization, from your remote workforce all the way up to the C-suite. Today’s managers have lots of employee monitoring tools to choose from, all supporting a variety of techniques and technologies for monitoring employees’ activity. How do you know the employee monitoring solution you’ve chosen is the right one?

It’s important to make sure your employee monitoring tool of choice can thoroughly, accurately, and reliably monitor your employees’ computer activity without compromising the trust or security of your team members. In this article, we’ll go over some key considerations for finding the best employee monitoring software for your business that delivers the real-time insights you need to maximize productive time during the workday. We’ll also show you how best to introduce employee productivity monitoring to your employees. By the end, you’ll be ready to choose the right employee monitoring tool and start gaining insights into your employee’s work!

Choose where to start:

The Many Types of Employee Monitoring Tools

We believe employee productivity monitoring, when done collaboratively and transparently, can help every enterprise optimize operations. Employees, team leaders, managers, and C-suite executives all benefit from workforce analytics, and employee monitoring tools provide the data necessary to fuel it. However, employee monitoring software that only tracks the work time and “unproductive” non-work-related activity of employees both in the office and working from home doesn’t actually produce any actionable insights. Also, you risk compromising employee trust with this kind of approach.

Today’s managers and team leaders need a new approach, one that focuses on delivering insights that can help improve workforce productivity and promote healthy employee behaviors. These employee monitoring tools must be able to gather metrics that go beyond hours spent at the screen to give an accurate account of user activity, workflows, and behaviors. The ability to capture how and when work gets done helps you better understand employee performance, focus time, collaboration, multitasking or context switching habits, burnout risk, and much more. These metrics are much more useful than simply measuring time at the screen.

In just the past few years, new types of computer monitoring software have entered the market that provide intelligent workforce analytics through monitoring. Here are some of today’s technologies that help employee monitoring tools support better, more efficient employee monitoring:

  • Website and social media blocking
  • Activity tracking compatible with the most popular operating systems like Windows, Mac, and Linux
  • Data collection and categorization for quick, clear insights
  • Employee monitoring tools that ensure proper utilization and allocation of all resources
  • Features that pinpoint if certain activities are aiding or hurting employee productivity
  • Detailed reports of desktop application usage and other computer activity

When choosing an employee monitoring tool, it’s also important to consider how the employee tracking software operates. Some employee monitoring tools gather data as long as the computer is in use, so employees can work freely without thinking about logging their productivity. Others let employees analyze and manage their own activity and remote work. This enables employees to work independently, set their own goals, and increase productivity on their own terms.

The best employee monitoring software lets you set monitoring windows so that employees are never monitored outside of working hours. After management has used employee monitoring software to measure employee time, behavior analytics, and productivity, employees can then freely access their own data and use it to improve their own productivity. This collaborative approach helps foster trust and drives home the point that employee productivity monitoring is about insight, not oversight.

The ActivTrak Checklist for Choosing the Best Employee Monitoring Software

As you shop around for a solution that takes the right approach to employee monitoring, consult our checklist to make sure you’re on track:

  • Does this employee monitoring tool offer ways to share productivity data with individuals so they can learn from their own work habits? Can I set things up so managers can only see data for their teams, not others in the organization?
    • Managing user permissions is key to gaining productivity insights without compromising employee privacy. Employees should always have access to their own activity data, managers should only be able to view data from their own teams, executives at the higher level should only have a bird’s eye view. Look for an employee monitoring tool that lets you adjust user permissions as necessary.
      • Can I enable tracking only during work hours or other specific hours of the day?
        • To monitor employee activity ethically and maintain boundaries between the personal and the professional, make sure you choose a solution that allows you to set when you will track time.
          • Will this employee monitoring tool help managers support healthy work habits by highlighting burnout risk? Can I assess deeper employee productivity metrics, such as focus time and multitasking, with this employee monitoring software?
            • Productivity tracking and activity monitoring are only half the story! Your employee monitoring tool of choice should go even further and give you the insight you need to create a healthy work environment. Look for a solution that can break down workload balance and resource allocation by team and identity employees who are in danger of overworking themselves. Give your prospective tool a bonus point if it has productivity coaching! These can teach you how to make the most of the data you gather. At ActivTrak, our proactive insights are curated by our Productivity Lab.
            • Does this employee tracking tool offer trend analysis, so I can establish benchmarks and set goals for my team?
              • To make the most of employee monitoring, use the data gathered to inform future goals. Look for a solution that offers historical trend analyses of productivity and breaks them down via intuitive graphs so you can see where your team has been and where it can go.
                • Does the vendor offer templates and other resources to help me introduce our productivity tracking and measurement program to employees?
                  • Employee productivity monitoring can be challenging, especially if this is the first time your enterprise is diving into this kind of work. Templates, resource centers, online Q/A forums, and more go a long way to smoothing out the learning curve and helping both you and your employees better understand employee monitoring. While you’re searching for an employee monitoring tool that takes the right approach, look for one that has robust customer support.
                    • How long will it take to deploy this employee monitoring tool, and what level of onboarding support is offered?
                      • Along the same lines, remember that you’re looking for a tool that’s both powerful AND easy to use. Think about how long it will take to thoughtfully and systematically deploy this tool in your enterprise, and ask your potential vendor about what resources are available if you have questions about the new software.

                      Congratulations! You’ve successfully chosen an employee monitoring tool that will support a collaborative and transparent approach to workforce productivity management and improvement. Now it’s time to develop and roll out a user activity monitoring program that benefits everyone in the organization, individuals and managers alike. We have a checklist for that too!

                      • Be transparent with your employees: Make sure everyone is clear about what data you collect, how you intend to use it, and why you’ve decided to use employee monitoring tools in the first place.
                      • Communicate before, during, and after implementation: As you introduce employee productivity monitoring into your organization, provide help with onboarding and answer all initial questions. Continue sharing feedback, insights, and queries as you use the employee monitoring tool so that everyone involved is satisfied with the course of the program.
                      • Encourage ownership: This will promote transparency, enable self-improvement, and help employees understand how they personally contribute to the company’s overall success. When employees gain insight into their own work habits, they can identify ways to improve functionality and make adjustments on their own without relying on manager intervention. Remember that everyone is unique, and don’t compare apples to oranges.
                      • Culture comes first!: Use the aforementioned tips to show your dedication to productivity improvement and creating a culture of continuous improvement. Remember — the key to building an employee productivity monitoring program that works is prioritizing insight over oversight.

                      Using a powerful, collaborative, and transparent employee monitoring tool can help remote workers, in-office workers, and leadership teams work more efficiently. At ActivTrak, we can help you monitor employee activity in ways that go far beyond differentiating “working time” from “idle time.” By collecting all kinds of workforce productivity data, organizing that data into relevant categories, and providing in-depth insights into critical information, ActivTrak helps you ethically and accurately assess employee engagement and employee productivity while empowering everyone on your team to do the same!


                      • Keeping our motto “Insight, Not Oversight” in mind, choose an employee monitoring tool that enables a transparent and collaborative approach to activity tracking. Look for tools that offer insights and go beyond timesheets, time tracking, capturing screenshots, or keystroke logging.
                      • Take questions on your plans to implement an employee productivity monitoring solution before you start using it, and continue to answer questions and offer guidance post-implementation.
                      • Have leadership start measuring their own data first, and share what they’ve learned with the rest of the organization. This openness can go a long way toward alleviating employee monitoring concerns when it comes to activity tracking.

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