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Is Employee Monitoring a Productivity Hack?

by | Other

As cybercrime and hacking gradually rise to the forefront of corporate concerns, companies both large and small are increasingly turning to technology in order to monitor how employees are using corporate software and hardware.

What’s Trackable?

While feature sets and implementations vary between products, monitoring software normally tracks some or even all the following:

  • Keystrokes
  • Web browsing history
  • File access and transfer/copy
  • Application usage
  • Instant messaging

Does Monitoring Boost Productivity?

Interestingly, beyond the obvious benefit of deterring and preventing cybercrime, studies are finding correlations between employee monitoring and productivity gains.

“…Monitoring correlated to a 7% boost in revenue.”

The premise behind monitoring software’s productivity benefits is, unsurprisingly perhaps, that because employees are aware their browsing activity is being monitored, they’re discouraged from accessing non-work sites and or private materials.(e.g. Facebook, Youtube, etc.), which helps them stay focusec on task for longer periods, thus boosting productivity.

A study published in 2013 shows workers behave differently when they know their employer is watching. The study compared employee productivity in SMEs (in this case restaurants) with and without monitoring software. The findings were quite dramatic –

  • Monitoring was tied to a 22% decrease in thefts.
  • Monitoring correlated to a 7% boost in revenue.

Why Monitor When You can Block?

Many businesses have recognized social media and other private browsing as being detrimental to productivity and have opted to adopt a preventative policy by blocking access to these sites from employees PCs.

As most businesses quickly discover, the problem with this approach is that employees often rebel against these paternalistic measures and quickly become savvy at workarounds that thwart then.The end result being that rather than solving the problem, blocking simply makes it harder to spot, and creates a culture of subversiveness in the organization.

“…Monitoring leaves employees responsible for their browsing behavior, but makes it transparent.”

Monitoring on the other hand leaves employees responsible for their browsing behavior, but makes it transparent. This is obviously a much more mature and respectful method for addressing the issue, and surely one that is much more fitting for use with a computer savvy workforce…

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