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What is Employee Monitoring Software? Analysis of Features, Benefits and Pricing

Category: B2B News
What is employee monitoring software?

Employee monitoring software boosts the employee oversight capabilities of companies, ensuring that employees are following best practices when it comes to work-related tasks, access to sensitive company data, resources, and security. It ensures that all employee activities are tracked, providing total visibility and traceability into operations.

In real terms, for example, you might be concerned that your employees are spending more time surfing the Internet than is appropriate, viewing illegal or outright criminal content while there are tasks that need to be accomplished all within their official time of duties. The reality is that the computer and the internet, despite offering tremendous benefits, are also platforms for lost hours and productivity in the workplace. All too often, employees find themselves unable to resist abusing the privileges that their company gave them, resulting in lost deadlines and longer time to complete projects on hand. Under this situation, a content filtering software will allow you to effectively deal and control such activities.

In this guide, we’ll explain the details and how it will benefit your organization. Specifically, we’ll touch on the following key points:

  1. Types of Employee Monitoring Software
  2. Examples of Employee Monitoring Software
  3. Benefits of Employee Monitoring Software
  4. Features of Employee Monitoring Software
  5. Factors to Consider
  6. Pricing of Employee Monitoring Software
  7. Issues on Employee Monitoring Software

For sheer numbers to remind us how unprofessional work practices affect companies, consider the following US statistics:

  1. 64% of employees say they visit non-work related websites each and every day on the job. Of these people, 39% spent one hour or less, 29% spend 2 hours, 21% spend 5 hours, and 3% spend 10 hours or more… per day.
  2. 85% of employees use their company email for personal reasons (both sending and receiving). 10% of all employee emails are personal or unrelated to the workplace.
  3. 92% of stock trading happens during the work day. Many employees admitted to trading personal stocks at work as it was the only time they could.

Internet surfing of non-work related nature results in up to a 40% loss of productivity each year for American businesses.


Getting Started

Once your company decides to run an employee monitoring software, the standard practice is to advise employees of the introduction of the software. A project manager is assigned the task of overseeing the task and selecting the software that matches the unique situation and needs of the company or specific department of the company. Once that is taken care of, installation of the software is basically straightforward: the staff in charge will set up what employee activities the software will cover, which monitoring features will be activated—like keystroke logging or screen capture—at what time intervals, when and how to generate the reports, and who have the rights to access the output.

Once you’ve installed or activated the software, it will help you accomplish these three major things:

  1. Enable you to see almost 100 percent of employee activity, including: task performance, internet, app, email, social media usage, and phone use among others.
  2. The data generated by reports transforms the decision-making process, enabling you to determine optimal team size, work process, product prices, and even appropriate salaries and rates.
  3. It brings determination and assessment to a level of objectivity, not mystery and guesswork.

Types of employee monitoring software

We can divide the types in three major aspects: breadth of feature set, surveillance-focused and management-focused.

  1. Productivity suite. With the advanced analytical and reporting capabilities, companies can easily sort out which employees are making the most of their working hours, identify ways to improve those areas that are the sources of issues, help those who are lagging behind in their assigned tasks, and many more.
  2. Surveillance tool. You will opt for this package if you are affected by ongoing losses in assets and resources, breaches in security, and severe employee productivity issues. This type of employee monitoring software can be configured to control file access rights, track documents, monitor emails, block access to removable storage, monitor printing and inactivity of workers.
  3. Project supervision and management. Some employee monitoring software include tremendous tools to distribute and track tasks and time consumption among team members from any part of the globe. The analytics and reporting tools could easily assess the effectivity of newly established procedures and methodologies.
time doctor reporting

Time Doctor’s Report dashboard helps you mine employee activity daily, weekly, monthly or via a custom date range.

Examples of employee monitoring software

We have covered what is employee monitoring software, what it does, why use it, it’s advantages, and for now we proceed with specific examples of employee monitoring software.

  1. Time DoctorFeaturing time tracking capabilities accurate to the second, Time Doctor provides a highly detailed information about where time has gone for employees during official working hours. It easily enables website and application monitoring, backed by a robust screenshot monitoring and recording, invaluable tools in overseeing employee activities in the workplace.
  2. FlexiServerFlexiServer features automatic attendance logs, tracking of time spent on applications and documents, website monitoring, keystroke and mouse click monitoring, while integrating monitored data to payroll software and robust reporting tools. It is able to run behind firewalls and routers.
  3. Pivotal Tracker: With its One View and Real-Time Collaboration features, Pivotal Tracker tracks and shows what every member of a team is doing in real time, allowing companies to develop target software better, chart timely priorities, and simplify the overall collaboration process.
  4. RescueTimeRescue Time tracks programs used, active windows, websites visited, other computer activities, as well as monitoring time consumption on phone calls, meetings, and breaks. Such data enables managers to work with employees address weakness in their working habits and improve overall workflows.
  5. HubstaffAlong with GPS and location monitoring software, Hubstaff can be configured to take random screenshots and log keyboard or mouse activity, enabling companies to have a concrete proof of work of any employee. Hubstaff operates on multiple operating systems and platforms, making it the preferred choice of thousands of remote teams spread across the globe.
  6. AquaTeams: A cloud-based attendance and location tracking mobile application designed to help business and organization manage the availability of their teams, maximize their workforce, and realize their full potential. The app allows companies and organizations mark attendance through a selection of the most popular methods, including biometric devices, WiFi, geo-fencing, and beacons.
  7. CleverControlDesigned to greatly enhance productivity and effectiveness, CleverControl provides users with complete visibility of employee’s activities on his/her computer. Users are given remote monitoring capabilities via a secure web account. With this, users can monitor their employees in real-time, giving them a clear idea of employee’s chat sessions, opened files, and browsed websites, to name a few. The platform also supports screen capturing, keystroke logging, video recordings, search engine activity monitoring, and other tools. Essentially, the platform empowers employees to maximize their work hours while allowing users to prevent illegal activities such as information leakage and theft.
  8. Kickidler. This employee monitoring solution provides businesses with a complete view of all employee activities to ensure maximized productivity and immediately halt any suspicious actions. Kickidler comes equipped with live desktop monitoring for all employees, time tracking to ensure work hours are optimized, activity recording for easy referencing on past actions, and more.

Key performance indicators as displayed in RescueTime’s dashboard.

Benefits of employee monitoring software

While you might think that catching slackers and preventing theft and other security risks are the main advantages of employee monitoring software, its benefits actually go deeper. Below, we discuss a few of them.

  1. Learned insight means fewer errors. Employee monitoring software allows you to spot mistakes early by revealing what your team members are currently working on. You can direct employees to prioritize high-priority project rather than the low-priority ones they are currently focusing on.
  2. Synced work even across time zones. You will be surprised how employee monitoring can allow you to see what’s happening in your teams scattered across time zones and align what they’re doing. You might have some delivery in Asia taking longer to finish a job, so you call up your production team in Europe to jump ahead with the next order without losing time waiting for the Asian end of the job to finish first.
  3. Better selection, improved delegation. Employee monitoring software tools foster better understanding of your employee’s distinct capabilities, which should enable you to make insightful selection and delegation of tasks, improving collaboration while promoting your employee’s understanding of his talents. Team trust from management to employees is enhanced, and enables everyone to get a good view of the big picture.
  4. Reduced administrative load. With a properly selected employee monitoring application, you can focus on essential issues of your business and less on dragging trivial chores. Some of these applications, for example, feature automatic payments with closely monitored working hours, which should enable efficient payroll management.
  5. Secured assets, sensitive information. Intellectual property and trade secret flying left and right invite prolonged court battles and destroyed careers or companies. The choice to prevent those from taking place in your companies is only a piece of employee monitoring software away, and the right decisions during setup and configuration should do the trick.
  6. Eliminate wastage. Here, we come to the core function of employee monitoring software. To the question what is employee monitoring software, the word “productivity” is the easiest response, at the heart of which is to keep employees sticking to best practices and doing what they were paid to do for the company.

The Activity Dashboard on HubStaff.

Features of employee monitoring software

  1. Timesheet. The grandmother of all employee monitoring software, attendance logging and monitoring is where it all began, and tracking workers’ log in-out data functionality remains at the heart of these tools.
  2. Task management. Anywhere in the world, an employee monitoring software can be configured to track who is working on what, at what level is an employee at a certain task, and who has gone beyond certain deadlines, all essential tools in managing large and disparate teams across continents.
  3. Productivity evaluation. When an employee’s performance has dipped or gone up in the past few months, you are most likely to figure out the details by looking at the multiple analytic tools and reports compiled and produced by an employee monitoring software. From there, you can prepare promotions on the line or various retraining tools to improve—or remove—the erring employees.
  4. Location tracking. Employee monitoring software can easily incorporate GPS functions to track and monitor the whereabouts of employees, mostly useful when deliveries and pickup of company goods are concerned. You simply retrofit critical vehicles with employee monitoring software, setup the program, and you are good to go.
  5. Alerts. Especially useful when critical protocols and secured areas are breached, employee monitoring software ensures that you don’t go uninformed while your business operation is under serious threat.
  6. Stealth Mode. If legal statutes allow it, there are many reasons to prevent employees from knowing they are monitored, one of which is if your company is already seeing serious losses and breaches and letting them know of the installation of the monitoring software would simply allow them to circumvent the proper operation of the software. Additionally, announcing the deployment of such software may affect employee morale and behavior in unexpected ways.

Factors to consider in buying employee monitoring software

  1. Assess real company needs. If your company does not suffer from serious security breaches and asset losses, a surveillance-heavy type of employee monitoring software should not be on the top of your list, not even if your ex is on the floor and you are itching to know to whom they are directing their affectionate messages these days. You will most likely need a more productivity or project management-oriented suite if this is the case. The key is to systematically assess the areas in your company that could best be addressed or improved by an employee monitoring software. You do not want to pay for functionalities that do not really positively bring change to your business.
  2. Research and shop around. When you have done that, the next step is to shop around the market and see which offers the package that really meets your already identified needs. Go for free trials when these are offered, inquire about payment schemes, volume or institutional discounts, which they usually give to nonprofit and educational establishments.
  3. Negotiate smartly. You might also want to be on the lookout for coupon discounts that some companies post on their websites but that their representatives might not conveniently inform you while you are negotiating with them.

Pricing of employee monitoring software

From what we’ve gathered from the samples of monitoring software that are examined here, employee monitoring software price is typically determined by the type of plan or license, business or employee population size, additional fees, and upgrades.

  1. Time Doctor. It offers a 30-day free trial for all versions, free plan with limited features, a solo plan for $5/month, above that $9.99/month.
  2. FlexiServer. It offers three SMB and enterprise pricing options from a low $159 one-time payment for Business Edition, $385 for Corporate Edition, and high of $640 for Enterprise Edition.
  3. Pivotal Tracker. Along with a 30-day free trial, it offers various pricing rates depending on the number of collaborators. There’s a free version for minimum of 3 collaborators, $15 for 5 collaborators, $35 for 10 collaborators, and $75 for the Pro version that also includes unlimited file storage and unlimited private projects. An enterprise edition at $300 for 50 collaborators is also an option, with the same unlimited file storage and private projects offer.
  4. RescueTime. The basic version is free. For $9/month/user or $72/year/user all the features from the Lite are activated as well as a slew of more advanced features like tracking of time away from computer station, alert-sending upon achievement of daily goals, logging of daily accomplishments, among others.
  5. Hubstaff. It offers its Solo Lite free for one user, its Basic version for $5/user/month, and its Premium version for $9/user/month.

The best approach is to check the employee monitoring software company’s website, explore their terms, and avail of free trial when it is offered to see how their software matches with the requirements of your company.

Issues of Employee Monitoring Software

There is no doubt that with the current state of advanced AI, data mining algorithms, employee monitoring software easily approaches a full-blown Big Brother program unless handled carefully by companies that choose to implement them.

  1. Legality. Understandably, employee monitoring software always bring legal issues to the table and if you choose to deploy an employee monitoring software, you best be aware of where this decision stands in the eyes of the law. In the US, for example, the federal government has no restrictions on employee internet monitoring, but some states have put protections in place.
  2. Virus threat. Many employee monitoring programs could be viruses in disguise: in exchange for legitimate monitoring functionalities, they also collect sensitive information and sell to interested companies.
  3. Diminished morale. Employees don’t like bosses always behind their shoulders, eerie cameras in the place of those pushy bosses, and most likely they wouldn’t smile at the prospect of a more powerful, ubiquitous platform to monitor just about any work-related activities that could be thought of.

By Nestor Gilbert

Senior writer for FinancesOnline. If he is not writing about the booming SaaS and B2B industry, with special focus on developments in CRM and business intelligence software spaces, he is editing manuscripts for aspiring and veteran authors. He has compiled years of experience editing book titles and writing for popular marketing and technical publications.

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