The Comprehensive Guide to Legal and Ethical Employee Monitoring 
You may think that staff monitoring apps are relatively new in the industry, but the truth is, the practice has been around since the late 19th century. These days, businesses of all sizes use employment tracking for determining weak areas in productivity. This practice ensures that workers are pulling their weight and are compliant with the company’s requirements. Aside from that, monitoring employees also include tracking their phone calls, Internet usage, email correspondence, and physical movement during work hours.
Tracking employment hours can be a double-edged sword. While it can bring benefits to your company, if done incorrectly, it may lead to several unfavorable consequences. As such, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to explain how you can practice employee tracking ethically and how to ensure high productivity of remote employees.
Where Is Employee Monitoring Applicable?
There are several reasons why companies implement an employment tracking system. Here are some of the most common applications of the practice:
Ensuring Quality Customer Support
Customers will continue to patronize a business if they get the support they need. So, it is crucial for companies to ensure that their customer service teams are performing efficiently and professionally. One of the best ways to do this is by implementing a proper employee monitoring system.
Contact centers usually record all their agents’ phone and email conversations with clients. Doing so allows them to maintain the quality of the service by identifying areas for improvement. The business development branch of the company will use the data they acquire to train their customer service representatives in handling the concerns of their clients. Of course, the recordings will also be useful in case there are legal disputes with a customer.
Efficiently Managing Remote Teams
Because of the current situation in the world, more and more companies are exploring the benefits of remote work. Before, startups were the ones investing in this industry, but we’ve seen big companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook allowing their employees to work from home for an extended period.
There are productive benefits in working from home. However, the setup can also be subject to various distractions. An employee’s concentration and productivity can easily be sabotaged by household chores, social media, or readily available entertainment. Of course, it can be challenging for managers to manually keep track of what their team members are doing. As such, tracking employees with a monitoring app like Traqq will ensure accountability of deliverables.
Creating Accurate Invoices
Agencies that offer software development, designing, digital marketing or other services that bill clients by the hour can make invoicing a lot easier and more accurate by using an employee tracking software program. It is easier to monitor the hours spent on every project when a proper time tracking system is put in place. What’s more, it virtually eliminates disputes on billable hours because the data is usually accurate.
Efficient Operations for Financial Companies
Employee monitoring is also used by financial service companies for their general operations and sales. These businesses need to prevent data theft or data leaks. So, as part of their efforts to follow confidentiality and information security regulations, they have to monitor their workers’ activities. In several countries, companies that sell financial products like mutual funds and insurance are mandated by law to record sales conversations. Doing so will ensure that their employees do not use false information or dodgy techniques to persuade customers into making a purchase.
What Are the Advantages of Using Employee Monitoring in the Workplace?
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a freelancer, a team leader, or an executive, there are plenty of benefits you can get when you have a work monitoring system in place. Here are some of the advantages you can enjoy:
Efficient Use of Time
Typically, a full-time worker gets paid for eight hours of work for a day. You will be surprised to learn that about 89% of employees admit to wasting time at work. 31% of those workers waste about 30 minutes of paid time on a daily basis. Now, that may not seem much, but when you add the numbers up, you are losing thousands of dollars every year.
On the other hand, when you let an employee track their hours, you can ensure they account for every paid minute. These days, there are monitoring apps that also evaluate how workers spend their time. This way, you can ensure that you are only paying for the hours and minutes that your employees spent for work.
Companies monitor their workers not only because they want to spot time theft. This practice also helps businesses determine if employees are taking too long on certain tasks. For instance, they may be taking an hour longer to complete a presentation when the majority of the workers can do it in a shorter amount of time. Problems like this can be identified when you monitor your employees’ activities. Of course, you can use the data you gathered to examine how the worker can improve on their weaknesses.
Fewer Mistakes, Better Output Quality
When you have a broad insight into your team members’ activities, you’re able to identify their errors before they go out of control. Perhaps, there is an urgent and critical task that needs to be done. However, you notice that your employee is working on a project that has a low priority status. Of course, you can catch this early on and send the person a message, telling them to focus on the more important project.
Monitoring inside the workplace can also make the office environment safer. For instance, tracking emails, in many cases has helped resolve claims about sexual harassment. Aside from that, there are other ways in which employee tracking can boost security. This practice is one of the practical ways to ensure that field workers are not in danger. For example, one person should report at a certain time yet nobody has heard from them. In this case, the company can look up the employee’s location on the GPS to ensure that they are safe.
Reasonable Delegation of Tasks
By monitoring your workers’ performance, you are able to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Consequently, you can delegate tasks more efficiently. When done right, distribution of responsibilities can make people more productive, foster collaboration, develop workers’ skills, and boost morale.
Now, you wouldn’t experience those benefits if you are giving certain tasks to the wrong employees. When you know who’s struggling and who’s shining on a particular subject, you can delegate the tasks accordingly. In some cases, this could mean assigning responsibility to someone ill-equipped to allow them to improve. In situations where there is a sense of urgency, you may want to give the responsibility to someone who can breeze through it. Without the right data, you won’t be able to make these important decisions. Of course, you can get the information you need when you use an employee monitoring tool.
Automated Administrative Work
Most of us hate doing admin work, but it’s too important to neglect. We get it. You’re always cursing your existence because you have to spend your time on mundane tasks and paperwork instead of solving real-life problems. On the other hand, if you use a time monitoring app, you can automate a huge percentage of your admin work. Programs like Traqq allows you to monitor and keep a record of your employees’ work hours. Consequently, creating an invoice will only take a few clicks.
What Are the Disadvantages of Employee Monitoring?
While there are plenty of benefits you can get from staff monitoring, it also has some drawbacks. Thankfully, you’ll be able to anticipate them and find an appropriate workaround for them. Here are some of the downsides of tracking your employees:
Your employees tracking their hours may make it seem like you don’t trust them. Of course, this can cause a rift between you and your workers. As such, it is important that you properly communicate with your team members before you implement employee tracking. Roll out materials that explain the benefits of the new system. Take the time to meet with them and discuss that you are monitoring their performance for their own good as well. What better way to highlight model employees than to track their productivity?
Feeling of Lost Privacy
Technically, there are no legal violations to proper staff monitoring. Despite knowing this, employees may deem it unfair that they are under surveillance. It is only natural for them to desire to have more flexibility and freedom in the workplace. The workaround here is to ensure them that you will keep their data secure and private. If your legal team permits put it in paper. Let them have some form of assurance that you will always follow ethical guidelines in monitoring their productivity and activities in the workplace.
Low Retention Rate
The high stress levels, low morale, and distrust caused by improper employee monitoring implementation can lead to a higher turnover in a company. Keep in mind that replacing workers can be time-consuming, costly, and inefficient for your operations. As such, it is crucial that you find the right tool or system that will help you implement staff monitoring ethically and reasonably.
Now, you might ask, “Is it possible to enjoy all the benefits of employee monitoring without any of its downsides?” Well, the great news is it is possible. As we’ve mentioned, all you need to do is develop a foolproof system. Of course, the best way to do this is by using the right staff activity app.
How to Monitor Your Employees Legally
As we’ve discussed, monitoring your employees can bring various benefits. However, no matter what surveillance method you choose, you need to ensure that you are doing it legally. This way, you can avoid labor troubles down the road. Here are some ways to monitor your employees’ activities during work hours:
How to Monitor Your Employees’ Computer Activity
When you introduce employee monitoring software to your team, your employees will naturally feel like you’re spying on them. Legally speaking, employers are entitled to watch what their workers do during office hours. However, there are also some ethical considerations when monitoring an employee’s computer activity. The best solution here is to use a credible time tracker like Traqq.
When Traqq founders developed this Windows and Mac time tracker, they filled the gap in ethical employee monitoring. While they designed a time tracker capable of taking random screenshots, they still considered the privacy of the user. The images and video recordings that Traqq takes are intentionally blurred to prevent sensitive information from becoming legible. This way, managers will only get an idea of an employee’s activity and will not be able to discern their passwords or private messages.
How to Monitor Your Employees’ Cell Phone Usage
If your employee’s job involves talking with business partners and clients, it’s also helpful to track and record their phone interactions. This capability will allow you to identify what top performers are doing. This way, you can share the information with other workers to boost their productivity.
In general, you are legally permitted to listen to your workers’ conversations on company-owned phones. However, to avoid legal troubles, we discourage you from monitoring non-business activity on cell phones. If you’re going to listen to their calls, make sure you’re only doing it to manage the quality of their work. There are plenty of apps and services that will enable you to monitor your employees on company-owned phones.
How to Monitor Your Employees on Their Skype Chat Conversations
Monitoring your employees is also possible on both the regular Skype app and the Skype for Business version. Microsoft designed the Skype Manager utility to give companies a control center where they can view the conversation and call data. Those with administrator access can view their employees’ activities. However, the observed party must give consent before this feature can be activated. Otherwise, managers will only be able to view their team’s credit balance.
With Skype for Business, you will also be able to access monitoring data like blocked user reports, conference participant activity, peer-to-peer activity, and more. You can view the Control Panel and see the user activity metadata, which means that technically, you’ll only be able to monitor the data of data. So, you can’t read or interpret the messages or chat conversations.
How to Monitor Your Employees’ Non-Business Activity on Social Media
To ensure that no harm is being done within the workplace, managers can opt to monitor their employees’ activity on social media. Any business would want to be viewed professionally by the public. Now, if an employee posts any statement that may harm the reputation of their employer, it can lead to complicated issues. For one, companies are not permitted to demand their workers’ personal social media account login information. Employers need to go through legal procedures to acquire the access they need. Moreover, their request will only be approved if the employee posted something that goes against their company policy.
There are legal loopholes that allow employers to monitor their employees’ online activity. For instance, anything done on company-owned devices and under office hours is not private. So, if your employee is accessing social media during work hours, you have the right to monitor what they’re doing. You can install employee monitoring software on their company-issued device. However, whichever method you choose, you need to execute it carefully. You must discuss with your employees that everything they do during office hours and on company-provided devices is not private.
How to Monitor Your Employees’ Web Browsing Activities
A Salary.com survey revealed that during work hours, 64% of employees visit non-work-related websites. It’s only natural for people to get distracted throughout the day. However, without supervision, some employees may abuse their internet access. Some may spend their work hours downloading coupons, watching YouTube videos, or shopping online. Others may perform even more unprofessional activities, like watching pornography or gambling on online casinos.
The easiest workaround here is to let your IT department block sites for social networking, gaming, entertainment, pornography, and gambling, among others. However, what if your staff is working from home on their own computers? The legal and ethical method to monitor your employees’ web browsing activities is by using Traqq. As we’ve mentioned, this tool also logs website and app usage. On the dashboard, you can view the apps and websites that eat up most of your employees’ time.
How to Monitor Your Employees’ Location
Monitoring your employees’ location can be justified for several reasons. For instance, if your staff is always on the road, you’d want to ensure their safety by tracking their location. Moreover, in the delivery sector, geo-monitoring is a common practice for logistics. Now, there are plenty of ways to monitor your employees’ location. For instance, there are clock-in clock-out apps that come with GPS tracking. You will know where your employees logged in and even where they took their breaks.
In the delivery sector, companies can attach GPS trackers to the vehicles to see their employees’ location in real time. Now, if you have sales agents in the field, you can require them to install a tracking app on their smartphones. However, remember to inform your people that they are being tracked through their company-issued devices.
How to Monitor Your Employees’ Activity Without Any Time Tracker
Using a time tracker to monitor your employees’ online activity during work hours is legal. However, if you don’t feel comfortable using a surveillance app, you can still ensure productivity and efficiency. For instance, you can perform daily check-ins to know your employee’s progress. You can ask them what they have achieved for the day. If they are struggling, you can ask them how you can offer support. Aside from tracking productivity, this method will also boost employee morale and engagement.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Employee Monitoring App
When it comes to selecting the right app for tracking your staff’s hours, you need to assess your business goals and needs and decide what features you are looking for in an employee monitoring app. Here are some of the factors you need to consider:
Your Team’s Setup
You need to choose a tool according to the type of team you manage. For instance, if you work in the same office, setting up a monitoring system on their phones is quite feasible. Meanwhile, if the members of your team are scattered around the world, it is best that you choose a task monitoring app that they can install on their computers. Usually, tracking programs designed for PCs have more features and make admin work easier.
In this area, Traqq wins as the ideal time tracker for remote teams. It is a lightweight tool that anyone can download from wherever they are in the world. What’s more, it takes screenshots of an employee’s computer monitor. So, even if you are a thousand miles away from your team, you can still track their progress and productivity.
Ease of Use
Monitoring apps are supposed to provide convenience to your employees—not burden them. So, make sure to look for a program that can automate employee tracking. When using the right program, all they need to do is log in – and the tool should do the rest. Take Traqq as an example. It has an easy-to-use stopwatch that users can run whether they are online or offline. Your employees do not have to be connected to the Internet just to use the tool.
Also, Traqq comes with an intuitive dashboard with all the features a manager needs for convenient performance tracking. With a few clicks, you can generate reports for the entire team and even extract them into an Excel file. Monitoring billable hours for an individual or multiple people is simple with Traqq’s user-friendly dashboard. In general, it will only take you a few minutes to set up the time tracker and learn all about its features.
Comprehensive Monitoring Features
If you want to identify strengths and weaknesses in your team, you need a tool with features for tracking the time spent on websites, programs, and tasks. The program should also detect keyboard and mouse activity. This way, you will know if you’re paying only for the hours and minutes that your employees worked. Moreover, it will help you determine if some team members are overwhelmed with assignments, allowing you to properly delegate tasks.
Another great thing about Traqq is that it monitors the activity levels of employees. The tool’s sophisticated algorithm analyzes how productive a user is based on their keyboard movements and mouse scrolls/clicks. What’s more, if a person is staying idle, the tracker will send them a notification. Activity levels are color-coded on the dashboard, making it easier for managers to determine productivity cycles.
Flexible and Ethical Tracking
It’s never a delight when you feel like you’re being treated like a prisoner. So, it’s best to use an app that promotes ethical tracking. You should never make your employees feel as if you’re spying on them. With a tool like Traqq, you can assure your team members that all their data will be private and secure. They can rest easy knowing that their personal information won’t get leaked. Moreover, they will have the freedom to manually edit the tracked hours. If they feel like certain screenshots or recorded data should not be included in the report, they will be free to delete them.
Aside from that, Traqq intentionally reduces the quality of the images and video recordings. They are blurred to the extent that ensures that your employee’s privacy is protected. Meanwhile, you can still have an idea of whether the employee is doing productive work or just cyberslacking.
How to Introduce Your Workers to an Employee Monitoring System
It’s understandable why your employees are wary of using a time tracker or any form of surveillance tool. It’s only natural for them to worry that their privacy will be invaded. After all, even if they are getting paid during work hours, the company does not own their entire being. Despite that, there is a way to introduce a monitoring system without giving the impression of total control. Here are some tips:
- Introduce Ethical Monitoring – It’s important to build trust among your employees, and communication plays a crucial role in achieving this. So, before implementing your time tracking system, conduct seminars that honestly discuss the goals behind the initiative. Reassure your team that the change doesn’t serve the purpose of spying on them. Instead, it’s supposed to facilitate the proper allocation of duties to prevent employee burnout.
- Set Clear Boundaries – Anyone can feel demotivated when they think that they are about to be micromanaged. So, when introducing a monitoring system, you must make it clear what the tool will and will not be used for. Let them know that the practice will let an employee track their billable hours and productivity. Even so, the reports generated will not be the sole basis for measuring their work ethic and talent.
- Choose a User-Friendly Time Tracker – As we’ve mentioned, a monitoring app should not burden your employees. So, you must reassure them that the tool they are going to use will improve their workflow. Moreover, with Traqq, all they will need to do is install the app and switch it on.
- Teach Employees How to Use the Tool — What’s great about Traqq is you can use all of its features for free. So, before you decide to incorporate it into your employee monitoring system, you can test it and assess what it can do. With Traqq, you wouldn’t need a complicated onboarding process. During your meeting, you can set aside a few minutes to demonstrate how the tool works. Because of its user-friendly features, Traqq doesn’t come with a learning curve.
- Be Ready to Answer Questions and Concerns – Encourage your team to evaluate the features of the monitoring app and let them know that they are free to share their feedback. Explore solutions on how to improve the practice and make it easier for everyone.
When done right, employee tracking can significantly improve a business’ productivity and operations. Of course, this has direct benefits to the company’s profits. As long as you follow the tips we recommended in this article, staff monitoring can be advantageous for both sides—the employees and the management.