Keeping an eye on what your employees are doing during business hours is a critical process. You need to understand how your employees treat your customers, whether they’re available at their workstations when they need to be, and whether they’re handling all tasks correctly.
You need to know if there are any productivity issues, collaboration problems, or other challenges. The only way to do any of this is through employee monitoring.
However, you need to ensure that you do it right.
You’ll find many controversial employee monitoring articles suggesting keeping an eye on your staff 24/7, tracking their every move, and making a mental note of every bathroom break they take. That’s the fastest way to lose employee loyalty and take your turnover rates through the roof.
To inspire trust, improve retention, and boost employee satisfaction, you’ll want to develop a monitoring approach that benefits you and your employees. Let’s look at a few of the best employee monitoring practices you’ll need to follow.
Have a clear-cut monitoring policy
Before you even start thinking about implementing workplace monitoring solutions, you need to develop a clear-cut policy that you stick to at all times. Which monitoring methods will you use? Which data will you collect; what will you do with it? How will you address the monitoring results you receive?
The more detailed your policy is, the easier it will be to implement it and use it to drive positive change within your organization.
Ideally, you’ll want to consult your staff members before you put the policy to use. Your employees can help bring attention to the issues you might’ve overlooked or to more effective methodologies you could use.
Collect only the data you need
At first glance, the easiest thing to do is collect every type of available data on your employees – when they sign in to work, how much time they spend away from the keyboard (AFK), when they take their lunch and bathroom breaks, or how they express themselves via email.
However, collecting and analyzing this information will usually do more harm than good. Your employees will feel like every breath they take is constantly monitored, and you’ll end up buried in vast amounts of data you’ll have no time to analyze.
Therefore, identify the key performance metrics you’ll need to track, such as frequency of errors, consistency in work output, timeliness, and the like, and focus on them.
Prioritize honesty and transparency
Over a quarter of employees have no idea whether their companies use device monitoring systems. They don’t know if they’re being watched, when, and to what end. Not surprisingly, this doesn’t reflect positively on their performance. It increases employees’ stress levels, lowers productivity, and decreases workplace satisfaction.
If your goal with employee monitoring is to improve performance and productivity, you’ll need to prioritize the utmost honesty and transparency.
Let your staff members know that you’ll be monitoring them, how you’ll do it, and what you’ll do with the information you collect. Of course, if you use methodologies such as mystery shopping, you won’t tell your employees who the mystery shopper is or when exactly they’ll come. However, you should let them know that you’re using such an approach and explain why you’re using it.
Respect privacy (and privacy laws!)
Employee monitoring can sometimes pose an ethical conundrum, especially now during the rise of remote work. If you monitor employees who work from home or use their own devices for business purposes, you’ll need to be exceptionally careful with the information you collect and when you collect it. You’ll need to respect both the privacy laws of your state and your employees’ privacy.
If you’re using monitoring solutions that take occasional screenshots for proof of work, make sure to limit the screenshots to business-related sites and accounts. You don’t want to accidentally take a screenshot of an employee’s social media or bank account that they visit during work hours.
If you’re tracking online activity during business hours, make sure to hit pause during the lunch break or after the work day’s done.
Whatever you do, ensure that you’re only collecting relevant information and using it for business improvement.
The purpose of employee monitoring should be to understand your current workflows, identify potential productivity issues, assess performance, and find areas for improvement. It’s not your excuse to micromanage everything that your employees are doing.
Micromanaging decreases morale, negatively impacts productivity, and immensely affects employee satisfaction. It’s one of the top three reasons why employees resign.
If you’ve perfected your recruitment and onboarding practices, you’ve hired skilled individuals who have the knowledge and experience to perform all the tasks associated with their roles. You don’t have to pay attention to every step they take during office hours.
Focus on rewards, not punishments
Finally, if you want to enjoy the benefits of employee monitoring, you’ll want to focus on rewards, not punishments. You shouldn’t monitor activity to give someone a pay cut or find an excuse to lay them off. You should start employee monitoring to improve overall productivity and reward good performance.
Focusing on rewards will inspire your employees to do better. Focusing on punishments will only encourage them to find other employment opportunities.
When done right, employee monitoring can be highly beneficial for your company and your employees. It improves morale, workplace satisfaction, and productivity and ultimately positively impacts your bottom line. You must know how to do employee monitoring right to reap the benefits.