How to monitor staff using software (without crushing employee morale)

Published on 04/03/2021 by Anna Hammond

When it comes to monitoring staff, there is plenty of employee monitoring software available to help keep track of individual employee productivity and performance. However, the use of this software can come at the cost of employee morale. 

employee monitoring staff morale
Simply put, people don’t like to be continuously monitored, and knowing they are being monitored can even negatively impact performance. Read on to learn why this occurs, and how you can take steps to prevent it.

Employee monitoring in Australia

In Australia, employee monitoring software has become particularly relevant since the COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies and employees to adapt to remote working. As of November 2020, 64% of employees at SMEs in Australia are working remotely part-time or full-time. 

In addition to this, 59% of Australian business leaders said they used some form of employee remote monitoring software. With that in mind, it looks to be that remote working and employee monitoring software have become commonplace in the modern work environment.

The benefits of using employee monitoring software

Employee monitoring software can take various forms, depending on how employees work and what metrics employers choose to track. For many employees currently working remotely, this will take the form of tracking the use of a device (like a computer or a laptop.) This could include monitoring anything from keystrokes and what apps are open, to their location and—possibly with a webcam—what they are physically doing.

The usefulness of tracking this data will depend on how employers wish to utilise it. For example, many companies will want to monitor the time an employee spends completing a particular task.

Employees may have to start and stop a timer themselves, or some software might automatically monitor the use of a particular app to see how long it is in use. Monitoring how time is spent by employees can help employers understand how long it takes an employee to complete a task, which can be useful for billing and project management purposes.

Even though software monitoring may be conducted for purely professional reasons, its use is not without controversy. As many as 54% of employees believe tracking software can have a negative impact on their performance. This is most acutely felt on employee morale. While employee tracking software can be useful, it does come with some challenges.

Employee monitoring challenges

Most employees feel comfortable or indifferent to monitoring software. However, it can cause a number of issues in the workplace. For example, Capterra’s survey into the use of employee monitoring software shows fewer employees said they felt comfortable taking designated work breaks when working remotely if they knew they were being monitored vs not being monitored. Others reported a negative impact, including feeling a decreased motivation to work and more pressure to be available outside of working hours.

Worryingly, only 65% of employees that said they’re being monitored through software reported being informed of their rights with regards to the monitoring software. This leaves 35% unsure or ignorant of their rights with regards to the use of tracking software. Businesses that wish to use tracking software should rectify this issue in order to increase employee buy-in and alleviate many potential employee concerns.

How to monitor staff without impacting employee morale

There are a number of different choices that employers can make to help assuage employee concerns and increase employee buy-in. Some of these tips are listed below.

Be transparent

Be sure to be open about what data you are collecting and what statistics you are monitoring. This lets employees understand the metrics that you are interested in and can help convince them regarding the legitimate reasons for using monitoring software.

Explain its purpose

In addition to being open about what statistics you are monitoring, be sure to explain why you are monitoring those statistics. If it’s purely for billing purposes, be sure to explain that. If it is for other purposes, ensure employees are aware of what and why.

Introduce it slowly

If your company is just beginning to monitor staff, try to ease employees into it. It can cause anxiety issues for some employees to feel like they are suddenly being thrown in the deep end, so easing employees into using monitoring software is advised.

Explain employee rights

Employees should be informed of their rights with regards to being monitored. This can include acknowledging not just the legal implications of monitoring employees, but also the ethical implications.

Acknowledge employee concerns

Be open to feedback from employees with regards to how they feel about monitoring. This helps employees feel like they are being heard, and it can help you to correct any misconceptions they may have.

Don’t rely on it

Monitoring software can often feel to employees like they are reducing the human factor in employment and turning them into statistics. This can adversely affect employee morale, so be sure to not rely on monitoring software as the sole measurement of employee performance.

Reward productive employees

Monitoring employees can be a positive experience. Tracking also allows you to see who your best-performing employees are, which you can use as the basis of a rewards system. This can help monitoring feel more like a competition and a positive experience.

Measure performance without impacting morale

The proper use of employee monitoring software can have a positive effect on workplace performance. Companies can better understand how employees spend their time, and it can be used to spot issues with performance or key work objectives before they become problems. 

However, it is very important that companies take the right approach with regards to their use. 

Employees that are not told why they are being monitored and are not informed of their rights can feel increased anxiety and pressure. However, with the proper workplace policies in place, employee monitoring can not only be used successfully but can be turned into a fun tool that rewards employees for their hard work and acknowledges those who put in the extra effort.

Looking for employee monitoring software? Check out our catalogue.

This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.

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