Employee monitoring in general is very widespread practice used almost in every company. Video monitoring and phone recording often used as a security measure or as a way to check attendance and evaluate employee performance.
However with wide spread of mobile and computer usage by employees, old ways to monitor employee activity may not produce sufficient results. Employees may appear to work diligently behind their computer when in reality they are spending time on Facebook or, what’s more important, misusing sensitive data or conducting malicious actions. Tracking employee computer activity is necessary to understand what he or she is actually doing.
Why monitor employees
Tracking computer and internet usage by the staff can safeguard employer in a number of ways. We can distinguish three major reasons to monitor employee activity:
Security concerns. Insider threats can pose a big danger to the company. Data such as client lists, intellectual property, and trade secrets can be copied without authorization, costing company high amounts of money. Employee monitoring plays an important part in endpoint security and can protect sensitive data and critical infrastructure from insider threats.
Compliance regulations. Most laws governing the security of sensitive and private data require companies to monitor access to such data and put measures in place to prevent any potential leaks, misuse, and theft. Employee monitoring solutions can be used to effectively achieve compliance with such regulations.
Learn more details about Finance data protection compliance.
Determine employee efficiency. Companies that charge hourly rates for their services may want to make sure that their employees are spending time doing productive work and not taking care of personal matters. Employee monitoring can be used to determine how efficiently employee is doing his or her job. It can also be used to check efficiency of remote or virtual employees that are paid by the hour.
Is employee monitoring legal?
Is it legal to monitor employees without their knowledge? This is the first question every employer should ask when deciding on how to monitor employees and whether they should even do it. And the answer depends on where you are.
In some European countries and Canada employee monitoring without their explicit consent in most cases is illegal. However, when employees are officially notified about action monitoring and the process is organized according to the existing legal recommendations provided by European legal entities, these security processes pose no or minimal legal risks.
Employee monitoring is legal in the US apart from a few specific cases in some states.
Employer has the full right to monitor equipment that he or she provided specifically for work, such as employee computers. They can also monitor your own equipment if such monitoring is required for business purposes. There are no federal law that specifically requires employers to notify employees that they are being monitored. So in most cases it is legal to monitor employee application usage and internet activity and you can legally use dedicated activity monitoring software to do it.
In any case, you should not take this blog post as a legal advice and should consult with your own layer to see if the laws in your area permit employee monitoring.
Best way to go about employee monitoring
It is worth keeping in mind that if done improperly, employee monitoring can become a point of contention between employer and their employees. The question then is, how to monitor employee internet usage, computer usage, and how to monitor employee performance the right way? And the answer is to go about it ethically, with respect to your employees and use the best employee monitoring software, capable of collecting data non-intrusively. We can single out several best practices that you should try to follow when conducting employee monitoring at work:
Set clear monitoring policies. When monitoring your staff, it is important to establish clear and transparent set of policies. You should explain exactly how the monitoring is conducted and for what purposes. Such policy should be formally written and contain information on what assets are subject to monitoring and what is acceptable use of those assets. Make sure that your employees are familiar with this policy and stick to it.
Notify your employees. It is very important to let your employees know in a clear and transparent way that their actions are being recorded. If you monitor only certain types of activity, such as employee internet use, business e-mails, or communication between teams, make sure that your staff is aware of it. While it may not be required by law in most states, it is a very good practice, that can help support a healthy atmosphere between employees and their employer.
Block undesired content. When doing web monitoring it is best to block certain types of undesired content or services altogether. This way you will make it clear that you do not want your employees to access this content. For example, you may want to block porn sites and sites that contain hate speech, or even social networks.
Do monitoring, not a surveillance. There is a difference between ethical employee monitoring and rigorous surveillance. Make sure that you are not spying after your employees, but collecting only the information necessary for your business. Remember, you may not need to know what your employees are doing online if it has no direct impact on their productivity and your sales. When it is clear that monitoring is done ethically with a well-defined business purpose, employees would have much less objections to it.
Respect employee privacy. Think twice before monitoring personal employee e-mails and other forms of communication even if they are made during the work hours and only do it when it directly impacts your bottom line. Such excessive monitoring can adversely affect job satisfaction and motivation of your employees. Even the most professional workers can get discouraged if their privacy is neglected. When monitoring employees who work at home, make sure to only gather information that is directly related to your business.
Use dedicated software. If you decided to commit to employee monitoring, you will find that there is a wide range of available applications from free computer logging software to dedicated security monitoring solutions. You need to choose the one that will better suit your needs considering the reasons you doing monitoring and results you want to achieve. But remember, that monitoring software should be non-intrusive and not disturb established employee workflow. If your purpose is to ensure security or achieve compliance, make sure that your employees are not be able to pause monitoring or terminate the application, no matter how technically sophisticated they may be. It is also important to protect the collected data from misuse by storing it in a secure location with limited controlled access.
Ekran System – dedicated solution to employee monitoring
Ekran System is a dedicated security monitoring solution that can be effectively used to conduct employee monitoring on corporate servers and desktops. Ekran System Client records everything that user sees on his or her screen along with mouse movements and relevant metadata into an advanced video format. By using the Web-based Management Tool you are able to watch every video recording and see exactly what your employees are doing. For an ongoing session, you can also watch the recording live as it happens.
While being able to record each and any user action, Ekran System provides record filtering capabilities to focus on certain users or applications or avoid recording some of them. Thus, you can make monitoring more efficient and respect user privacy.
Metadata, recorded by Ekran System, includes names of used applications, active windows, visited URLs, keystrokes, entered Linux commands, etc. Every data is coupled with a timestamp and clearly associated with a certain moment in the video.
Alert feature will allow you to set up customizable notifications, designating certain events upon which an e-mail with the link to the relevant video will be sent to you, allowing you to only pay attention when it is relevant. Ekran System is also capable of generating a number of reports that you can customize by a variety of selected parameters. Such reports can help you to evaluate security risks and measure your employee performance.
Ekran System supports a wide range of operating systems allowing you to monitor employees working with Windows desktops and servers, Cirtrix XenApp and XenDesktop, and Linux SSH / Telnet and local console sessions. It offers flexible licensing scheme, making deployment cost-effective no matter how many workstations you wish to monitor.
Employee monitoring can play an important part in establishing security of your data and productive workflow among your staff. However, it always needs to be approached with the ethics and concerns for employee privacy in mind.
By applying the practices mentioned in this post and solutions such as Ekran Systems you will be able to conduct monitoring that will benefit you and will not bother your employees.
Read also about the corporate data security practices to implement.