Employee Monitoring Software: An Essential or Merely a Convenience?

Ever since monitoring technology has broken free of the stigma that haunted it for many years, a new debate has started over its growing presence in workplaces and the potential threat to employee privacy. It is true that by investing in top employee monitoring software, business owners can exercise more control over their business activities and workforce. Unfortunately, this benefit doesn’t come without a cost, which, in most cases, is employee dissatisfaction, disengagement, and even lawsuits. Keeping the cost in mind, it is important to ask if inviting Big Brother into the workplace has become absolutely necessary, or if it is merely a risky shortcut to results that can be acquired through time-consuming but much safer alternatives.

Desperate times require desperate measures, right?

Proponents of employee monitoring software argue that in today’s digital times, managing workforce without electronic supervision is nearly impossible. There is no denying the fact that employees have developed a tendency to abuse technology available in the workplace, especially cell phones, web-enabled devices, and of course, internet access. They frequently engage in various time-wasting activities like personal calls, lengthy chat sessions, social networking, video streaming, online shopping, etc., all at the expense of their work efficiency and productivity.

Without electronic surveillance, it’s not easy to tell if employees are dedicating their time and attention to work tasks, or if they are engaged in non-work activities. This can certainly cost businesses billions of dollars each year, a loss they feel they can easy prevent by turning to employee monitoring tools for help. They are desperate for a solution and don’t seem to care too much about the possible cost of bringing in a technology that is still haunted by its past reputation.

The problem with electronic supervision tools

Employee monitoring software does seem like a viable option when it comes to dealing with problems like time-wasting on the internet and excessive cell phone usage at work, but it comes with its fair share of pitfalls. Employees, in general, aren’t thrilled about the idea of having their internet and cell phone usage monitored irrespective of the justification given to them by their employers. They generally see employee monitoring software as a hostile tool that is merely there to create trouble for them, or to deprive them of their right to privacy. This perception leads to resistance, a surge in stress level, strong resentment, dissatisfaction with the work environment, and, if not addressed in time, increased turnover.

Is it the easiest option rather than the only option?

The answer to that is yes; employee monitoring software indeed is the most convenient measure against abuse of technology privileges at work. Of course, this convenience comes at a cost that has already been explained earlier. However, a lot of employers either fail to realize what’s at stake or they willfully embrace the risk due to the amount of time and effort alternative options demand. These alternative options include:

  • educating employees on the restrained use of technology for personal use during work hours;
  • creating a performance management system that rewards and hence encourages desirable work behavior and results;
  • scrutinizing potential employees for unwanted traits during selection interviews;
  • creating and maintaining a work environment that encourages employees to prioritize work over other activities.

From an employer’s perspective, why go through all this trouble when a much easier option is available in the form of employee monitoring software? There still are a lot of employers and managers who are managing their workforce extremely well even without technological assistants. However, their numbers are decreasing fast as the trend of convenience is gaining traction despite its potential impact on employees and overall workplace.