Employee-monitoringInternet Monitoring and Employee Monitoring are two areas that are quite important to the business world and are becoming increasingly popular as use of the Internet surges across every industry. Whether in the office or on-the-go, almost everyone uses the Internet to complete their daily tasks like sending emails, creating documents and spreadsheets, designing websites, and more. But more often than not, employees tend to get caught up surfing the web during their workday instead of doing research for their next business unit, or joining the conversation on Twitter instead of responding to customer inquiries. As more and more companies see the need for network monitoring, software companies continue to develop advanced and powerful tools to help monitor and track employee productivity for both large and small companies.

Employee Monitoring

The most common and simplest form of employee monitoring is time and attendance tracking, or it can take on a more advanced form and be used in a variety of methods, like web cameras, keystroke logs, Internet website tracking, software usage, or e-mail filters. Time and attendance packages are often included as part of a larger human resources software package, but complex systems can come in the form of technologically sophisticated tracking programs where users log into their computers to use specific applications and keep track of their hours worked.

Internet Monitoring

The fastest growing area of employee monitoring relates to Internet usage. Companies continue to implement systems that track web surfing, instant messaging, emails, and other Internet related technologies.  Since most employees treat their office PC like it is their own, these Internet usage tracking systems become a source of negative reaction from employees. The use of web cameras have especially come under a lot of heat lately as many employees are citing an invasion of privacy, but the law does allow this type of monitoring in specific situations. As such, web cameras and video monitoring are not used as widely as other methods of employee monitoring.

Internet surveillance in general is most popular when it comes to employee monitoring programs. It’s easy to get caught up in Tweetchats, personal emails, surfing the web, or browsing through endless websites to find the perfect gift for a friend’s birthday when you’re supposed to be getting work done. Employers who choose to monitor the websites visited and general usage of the Internet by their employees can do a number of different things. They can choose to strictly monitor the Internet to watch for patterns or most visited websites, block any websites they deem inappropriate for the workplace, or create alerts to remind employees that only websites pertaining to their specific job function can be viewed on a regular basis.

E-mail scanning is another type of employee monitor and goes along with many Internet monitoring systems. It is a process where incoming and outgoing mail passes through e-mail filtering software to search for content which may be in violation of an employer’s policies. Often e-mails which are flagged by the monitoring software will be stored and then reviewed by a manager or other employee to verify the contents. This helps to eliminate any personal emailing that may be going on during the workday and keeps employees focused on the task at hand.

Other types of monitoring systems allow management to view details on reports for software and application usage as well as the documents that have been opened on a network computer. These reports help employers monitor the progress of their work staff and they can gauge the amount of work that can be done based on these numbers and analyses. Many of these software and application usage programs also include an attentiveness monitor which is acts like a pop up window and requires an employee to enter in a code to clear it. This is helpful for employers who may be concerned that, although their reports show that employees have the appropriate applications running through the day, they may not be actively using them or making progress with their work.

In certain positions such as data entry and clerical jobs, many employees are monitored based on their keystrokes to help employers track a person’s progress. This type of employee monitoring system is effective and can help employees keep on track and motivated to reach their goals. These positions are also likely to have software tracking that enables an employer to view the time spent on certain software programs and the idle time of any of the open programs. With monitoring programs such as this that provide concrete evidence of work produced and the time taken for completion, employers can produce concrete reports to show their employees during performance review times or in progress meetings.

Network Monitoring

Just as many monitoring systems can automatically count every keystroke of data-entry and data-processing clerks, workers who answer telephone calls all day are also monitored in detail. The exact number and duration of each call, and the idle time between calls, can go into an automatic log for analysis and can also be used in reports for performance reviews. If calls are recorded as part of the monitoring system, this can be a benefit to the employer, as they will be able to hear what their conversations sound like, and can analyze their tone of voice and level of customer satisfaction.

Employee monitoring software can be very advanced or strictly report-generating, depending on the need of a specific organization. They range in price and in capabilities, so it is important to do some research into the different options that are available before purchasing a software system. Some can product real-time views and screenshots of any network computer’s screen or show a list of currently open and running applications. For employees who believe they need to monitor their workers at every moment throughout the day, this is probably the most ideal software package. Other employers, who simply want to get a general idea of their employees’ patterns and computer usage, can purchase a monitoring system that creates reports once per week or once per month, compiling a list of websites visited, frequencies of opening programs and idle times. Because most managers do not have the time to track their employees at each moment in the day, many organizations choose to implement the report generating software.

One crucial thing for employers to remember is the importance of creating a company policy when implementing an employee monitoring device. This policy should state the degree to which employees will be monitored, what method is going to be used for monitoring (video, keystroke logs, Internet), the frequency of the monitor (weekly, daily, or continuous in real-time), and what the consequences of ignoring the company policies and rules will be. Ensuring that this policy is communicated to and understood by all employees will eliminate any misunderstandings and legal consequences on behalf of the employee or the organization.

With the proper software in place, you can monitor your employees’ use of the Internet, computer programs, or their time and attendance records to help them and the company work more efficiently and productively.