Employee productivity trackers, more commonly known as employee monitoring software, are often misunderstood tools that can bring many benefits to any performance-focused company.
The widespread use of employee productivity trackers started a few years ago. Now, in the work-from-home era we’re currently living in, they are reaching peak adoption.
While more widely accepted today, misconceptions about using an employee productivity tracker do still exist. So, we thought it would be a good idea to highlight and address the most common misconceptions.
Misconception #1 - Employee Monitoring is Illegal
What employers can monitor depends on where the company and its employees are located because regulations vary from country to country. But, generally speaking, most countries permit employee monitoring to some extent and under certain circumstances.
For instance, In some countries, employers are only allowed to use monitoring software if they give prior notice to the workers, while in other countries, “stealth” monitoring is allowed (under certain conditions).
Most governments don’t have laws that are specifically oriented towards employee monitoring, instead the practice is captured under more broad data collection, processing and protection legislation.
While a country’s laws may not specifically mention the use of monitoring software specifically, employers should consider implementation in the context of privacy-related rules and regulations.
Misconception #2 - Employee Monitoring is a Spying Tool
To address this head-on: there are no bad monitoring tools, per se, only bad employers.
Yes, an employee productivity tracker can be used maliciously. There’s no escaping that.
For example, imagine a micromanaging boss who’s focussed on finding the smallest of slip-ups to penalize their employees, rather than on improving employee performance.
But here, it’s not the tool itself, but how it’s being used. And, more than likely, this type of manager will act in this way whether they have monitoring software or not.
The typical -- and most effective -- use of employee productivity trackers is not to spend every minute checking whether your team members are on Facebook, or actually working. Rather, it’s about looking at the bigger productivity picture: what causes high output, low output, and what are the areas for improvement.
Using data in this way enables employers to have objective, data-driven conversations regarding performance with their employees. Yes, there will be times when these chats are unpleasant, but they are an excellent way to give employees a chance to do better.
Misconception #3 - Monitoring is an Invasion of Privacy
While employees should expect some kind of privacy at work, that privacy isn’t absolute -- especially if they’re working on company-owned equipment. However, this stops short of an employer having access to employees’ private and sensitive information.
One could argue that employees shouldn’t be making personal data vulnerable by paying their bills and checking websites containing personal information; but we’re all human, and personal matters do have to be taken care of now and again.
Luckily, monitoring software producers are seeing this issue, and they’ve started implementing features which allow employers to stop tracking and screenshots when employees are using certain off-limits apps and websites.
With this functionality, it means that company owners can turn off screenshots for banking and other websites to make sure they never obtain potentially sensitive information.
Myth Conception #4 - Monitoring Doesn’t Do Any Good for Employees
Employee monitoring only helps employers is a common refrain. And, on its surface, it’s understandable. But consider the example below as one of many counterpoints.
A company recently had a sudden surge of German-speaking customers. While their staff had a basic proficiency in German, the surge led staff to spend a disproportionate amount of time on Google Translate to decipher what customers said and to formulate a response.
This back and forth translation process was only discovered when the employer delved into data from their employee productivity tracker. With the knowledge gained, the company owner hired a language tutor and offered a language course to his employees. After a couple of weeks the time spent in Google Translate decreased markedly and, consequently, productivity increased.
This is just one example of how monitoring data can be used to help both employers and employees. Employee monitoring can unearth a multitude of other ways to help employees do their job better and manage workloads so they don’t become overworked.
As you can see, the main misconceptions surrounding the employee productivity tracker aren’t so much linked to the software itself, but how it’s used.
So long as employee productivity trackers exist, it’s impossible to completely rule out improper use. But, in the right hands, employee education, and with strong laws as guardrails, employee monitoring helps boost efficiency, productivity, and employee wellbeing.