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What is User Activity Monitoring (UAM)

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What is User Activity Monitoring?

User Activity Monitoring (UAM) enables managers and admins to track and collect employee’s real-time user actions and behavior data on company networks, connected devices, and monitored workstations. With the increase in open access to the internet and a more relaxed work culture, it is possible for team members to misuse the organization’s resources.

You might have specific questions regarding your organization. Who is your most productive employee? What kind of software is utilized majorly in your organization? What time of the day is your team the most productive?

UAM answers all of the above questions. It enables you to have an overall view of how employee activities occur in your organization.

By implementing UAM software, organizations can be more efficient in monitoring employee activities to ensure that resources are appropriately utilized, and stop any suspicious activity that leads to loss of productivity and puts your organization at risk.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about user activity monitoring to help you determine if it would benefit your organization, and if so, how to start.

Choose where to start:


How does User Activity Monitoring work?

User Activity Monitoring software captures the use of applications and programs on the monitored workstation of employees. These onscreen user activities are maintained in a log, which is accessible to managers to assess workforce analytics

By limiting access to managers or other authorized users, this ensures that company data remains secure and the employees are performing their assigned tasks efficiently. User Activity Tracking tools includes features like:

Real-time activity monitoring

Real-time activity monitoring allows you to monitor employee activities taking place in real-time on a computer. You can observe and analyze all the data.

User Activity Reports

You may find there’s a lot of user activity data to organize and analyze, which is why some solution providers like ActivTrak organize all of this information in an easy-to-read User Activity Report

Malicious Website Blocking

With this feature, you can restrict access to websites that are unproductive or distracting for employees. Usually, companies prefer to block social media websites, online gaming portals, entertainment, and streaming websites such as Netflix. However, you can customize this based on the needs of your team or organization.

Productivity Tracking

This feature helps to track the performance level of any employee concerning productivity. With productivity tracking, you can help your employees to improve in areas of work where they feel difficulty, leading to less burnout, higher engagement, and an overall improvement of the organization.

Activity-based Alarms

Every time a predefined condition is matched when any activity is performed, an alarm is triggered. These alarms notify about unwanted activity immediately.


User Activity Monitoring Tools

There are many kinds of user activity monitoring tools on the market. These tools employ different features for different purposes, such as tracking activity for many users, vs. looking into activity for one user. A useful tool would be the one that allows you both, multiple tracking or single user tracking as per your requirement.

Employee monitoring software monitors the user’s screen in the background, and when a targeted activity takes place, it alerts the administrator or the manager. For example, you can set an alarm condition for downloading unauthorized software on a work computer. If an employee tries to download one, the alarm will be triggered and you will be immediately notified of the activity.

All of the activities, depending on your software — can store the monitored employee activity in some format. The most common forms are screenshots or videos.

Let’s check out some advantages in detail.


Advantages of User Activity Monitoring

Team analyzing user activity monitoring data to find strategic advantages

Saves Time and Resources

According to Zippia, U.S. employees spend an average of 2.9 hours per workday doing non-work activities.

It’s estimated that lost productivity costs American businesses $650 billion per year, so it’s important to make sure employees remain productive and have efficient workflows.

Using user activity monitoring software helps you track employee activities and stay on top of resource utilization, which saves an immense amount of money for the organization.

Productive Workflow

When the right tasks are assigned to the right people, it leads to an increase in the productivity of the organization. It is essential to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the employee to assign them tasks true to their potential.

With the help of employee monitoring, the employer can learn who is better at specific tasks. For example, if two team members are assigned a similar job, the manager can track the employees’ activity to conclude who has a better workflow.

Better Security

According to Tech Jury, more than 34% of businesses around the world are affected by insider threats each year. Even more alarming, is that over the past two years, the number of incidents has increased by 44% and 66% of organizations consider insider attacks or accidental breaches more likely than external attacks.

Given access to the network and so much sensitive data – personal and organizational, there are huge liabilities like disclosure of confidential information, unauthorized duplication of files, and more. Thus, user activity tracking becomes a necessity.

The alarms and website blocking characteristics of a user tracking system will help to inform you and others of any unwanted activity.

Alarms are predefined conditions that trigger when any activity meets your defined criteria. Alarms can trigger emails, screenshots, or video notifications to the admin.

If you find out that an employee is accessing restricted data or a malicious website, you have the option to block the website so it won’t be accessible at all.


Benefits of User Activity Monitoring to Employees

Wondering how User Activity Tracking can be helpful to employees? Let’s check out the benefits:

Employees get better recognition as their excellence in their work doesn’t go unnoticed

Sometimes, employees who go above and beyond may find that their efforts aren’t being recognized which can be disheartening. With activity monitoring, managers can identify employees who have great work habits or are putting in high effort — even if this doesn’t always yield results. By doing so, you can encourage employees for their work and reinforce good work habits.

User Activity Monitoring offers transparency

According to a Salesforce.com study, 86% of executives blame workplace failures on a lack of collaboration and poor communication. It is wise to have a transparent work environment that has open communication between the employees and managers.

Open communication creates trust, and that trust leads to honest communication. This creates a harmonious work environment which in turn provides an excellent organizational environment.

Helps to recognize the real potential of an employee which can lead to lucrative incentives

Employees can support their case in an annual salary raise with real data, and they receive useful feedback from the manager that can help them improve performance to achieve performance-based bonuses.


The Disadvantages of User Activity Monitoring

burned out employee due to mis-managed user activity monitoring insights

The most common drawbacks of user activity tracking are a high level of stress for employees, mistrust, and invasion of privacy.

Stress and Mistrust

The issues of stress, mistrust, and invasion of privacy are interdependent. Activity monitoring can make the employee feel like they are always under constant scrutiny, which may lead them to feel stressed.

Tracking every computer activity of the employee makes them feel that privacy is violated. The company has rights to monitor the network and devices provided that it is company property.

To avoid this situation, the employee should be informed to understand the work policy of the organization and the fact that they don’t have to worry about keeping a mental check at every step of their task.

Ignorance between Professional and Personal Time

Sometimes employee monitoring becomes more about control than improvement or optimization of the work environment.

In such issues, the employer monitors activities even when the employee is off-duty. A considerable amount of data is collected under the means of monitoring.

All the personal information collected which is irrelevant to the job leads to a violation of privacy.

The employer must make ethical use of the employee monitoring technology. Limiting the tracking to work hours is a good way to avoid this issue.


It is legal for the employer to monitor the activity on any device or network that is provided by the organization. According to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, “unless company policy specifically states otherwise, your employer may monitor most of your work activity.”

Organizations have the right to monitor employee activities including emails, applications, and website use. Anything online or offline on the computer can be monitored. Other forms of monitoring also include video surveillance, GPS tracking, and audio recording in the work premises.

Few employers make the right decision by informing the employees about the monitoring, but doing so is an important step towards building transparency and trust.

The best approach is to go through the federal laws of your state and seek legal advice before you decide to implement any tracking software on your employees’ computers.


User Activity Monitoring Best Practices

Following the suggestions below can help you represent your intentions to your team in a positive light when implementing User Activity Monitoring software.

Be transparent with your employees

Your team should be made aware of the tracking system on their workstations. It is a good practice to include the acknowledgment of using employee monitoring software in the work contract.

Talk with your employees and ensure them that the purpose of tracking is limited to the improvement of organization and their private data is secure.

Build a custom-tailored Internet Usage Policy for your organization

The best course of action would be to arrange a special meeting for your employees. Assure the employees that monitoring is for the protection and welfare of the company and employees too.


How to identify which User Activity Monitoring tools are suitable for you?

There are three main criteria to consider while selecting an Employee Monitoring software:

Decide goals you want to achieve for your business

Make a list of goals for your business and then think how a particular software helps you to achieve them. Some possibilities can be:

  • Secure company’s data better
  • Improve efficiency in the organization
  • Legal protection for the company and employees
  • Optimize expenses
  • Employee retention

Limitations and ease of use

You have to check what speed, storage, and data the software offers.

All companies have different requirements and expectations from the software. Check if the software can provide custom development for your company.

As the number of applications increase, complexity increases. Using a monitoring software that allows multiple integrations can help to reduce that complexity and make workflow smooth-running and effective.

As mentioned before, an organization goes through multiple changes. Updating data through all applications is a tedious task. Having integrated applications makes updating easier and more time efficient.

Therefore, choosing User Activity Monitoring software that offers unlimited integrations of applications can make life easier.

The Cost and Time

There are so many User Activity Monitoring software options out there that it’s easy to purchase a seemingly useful software that doesn’t meet your specific needs.

Checking the price point of licenses offered is essential.

Companies are always changing. New employees get added to and removed from an organization all the time. So it is important to avoid any hassles and select the software where new members can be added to the team quickly.

It’s also essential to know the software requirements. Different softwares have different system support requirements.

Some also require physical servers to store all data onsite. Choosing to have all the data onsite might incur into additional cost. At the same time, a cloud-based software does not require anything extra.

Sometimes the User Activity Monitoring software you use might be complicated to use and extract information from or have a complex installation process. Therefore, it is essential to know if you need to invest in a team to use and maintain the software. Another option is to install such software that you can get running efficiently by yourself.

Employee activity tracking is a fundamental part of data protection for organizations today. The best option for the organization would be to combine the monitoring of user activity and data discovery that helps to secure the organization and enforce policy-based controls.


User Activity Monitoring With ActivTrak

Use ActivTrak to understand User Activity in a whole new way. Our cloud-based employee activity monitoring software provides historical and real-time insights into how your team spends their time online and in applications.

Effortlessly track and analyze user activities. Multiple reports and tools work together to connect the dots between computers and their users.

Here are a few reasons why ActivTrak is an ideal solution for User Activity Monitoring:

  • Review resource usage, policy compliance, suspicious activities, and productivity levels.
  • Set notifications when unwanted activity happens, document the activity, and react to it without lifting a finger.
  • Categorize applications and websites by business function or department to report on how much time is spent on specific activities.
  • Compare work habits of remote and in-office teams to identify variations in productivity and time spent on various activities.

If you’re interested in implementing a User Activity Monitoring solution to track employee activities within your team, request a demo from our team to learn about our software.

More User Activity Monitoring Resources

User Activity monitoring Wiki

In-Depth knowledge about User Activity Monitoring. Read the article from Wikipedia

Free Internet Usage Policy Template

This free template will help you to formulate a custom Internet Usage Policy for your organization. Download the policy template from ActivTrak

Employee Monitoring And Workplaces Privacy Law

Learn more about the privacy regulations and state laws governing employee monitoring. Read the article from SHRM STATE LAW & REGULATION RESOURCES

How User Behavior Helps Increase Productivity

This article provides some insight into User Behavior Analytics and its importance for company productivity. Read the article from ActivTrak

How Much Can Insider Threat Cost You?

Know why it is important to protect your organization against insider threats. Read the article from Security Intelligence

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