Employee Computer Monitoring Software: What is it, And Why Do You Need it?

Every employer knows it: employees, regardless of their rank or responsibility, will eventually slack off. From frivolous meetings to useless websites, employees will find any number of ways to shirk duties. While some slacking off is expected and even welcomed if it helps employees relax and turn in better work, extensive slacking off can be detrimental to any organization.

This is where employee monitoring software comes into the picture. In this article, we will learn more about employee monitoring software, why you need it, and the different options available to you.

Why Use Employee Monitoring Software?

64% of employees admitted to surfing non work-related websites once every day in a survey carried out by Salary.com. 21% of respondents said they spent more than five hours per week on such internet related activities. Since these numbers were self-reported, expect the actual figures to be much higher.

You don't really need surveys and statistics to know that employees waste time on social media and non-work related websites every day (the average Briton is spending up to an hour on social media daily). You only have to walk around the office a few times to see all those browser tabs loaded with Twitter and Facebook.

Monitoring the amount of time employees waste on non-work related tasks is the biggest reason why you should use employee computer monitoring software. This software will tell you exactly what your employees are doing on their computers. It's a great way to find out which employees are slacking off, and which ones are pulling their weight.

Employee Monitoring Software Prevents Data Theft

Besides helping you keep track of your employee's time, this software serves another purpose: it prevents data theft and loss by monitoring employee activity.

It is an unfortunate truth that some employees will use their privilege to access confidential data and customer records stored on your computers/servers. It is possible that they will steal this data for their own use, or sell it to a competitor. This is especially common among disgruntled or departing employees. According to one report, nearly 60% of departing employees are stealing confidential data.

In such situations, employee monitoring software will track what your employees are doing on their computers and alert you in case of any suspicious activity (trying to access confidential data, large scale moving/copying files, etc.). This alone is reason enough to use employee computer monitoring software.

How Does Employee Computer Monitoring Software Work?

Employee monitoring software works just like any other software. You install it onto a computer and it stays in the background, silently tracking every employee action. You can later view this recorded data on your own computer. This data can include, but is not limited to, tracking emails, visited websites, logging keystrokes, etc. Some software can also issue alerts if the employee is found to visit sexually explicit or gambling sites, or tries to retrieve/copy/delete confidential files.

In most cases, the software remains completely invisible to the employees, so they cannot know they are being watched (which, by the way, is totally legal and within your rights as an employer).

Employee Computer Monitoring Software Options

Until a few years ago, the only way to use employee-monitoring software was to install it on individual computers, which would then relay this information back to your computer.

Recently, a number of companies have started offering cloud-based, hosted monitoring solutions. This software works just like Gmail or Facebook. Instead of a heavy, bloated software, you only need to install a tiny widget, which connects to the cloud-based service. This widget collects data and updates it in real time in the cloud-based interface. The advantage of such software is that you can access this data from anywhere and any device. It also removes all hassles of updating the software.

Some of the popular options available are:

  • Spector CNE Investigator: One of the most popular monitoring software around, Spector CNE Investigator is made by the folks at SpectorSoft. It can monitor virtually any computer activity, including excessive bandwidth usage, log keystrokes and track visited websites. As a downside, it does not block external drives from being used (which are often used to steal data). It cannot stop employees from running a specific application (such as a game or movie player) either.
  • SpyTech NetVizor: A robust monitoring solution that tracks internet usage, IM messages, keystrokes, application usage, etc.
  • Interguard Sonar: Sonar is a powerful all-purpose monitoring solution with a special focus on tracking internet activity. Besides tracking what websites your employees frequent, it can also filter web traffic by website or website categories.

With productivity draining distractions merely a click away, it is crucial for any enterprise to invest in a competitive employee computer monitoring software. The productivity benefits in terms of fewer lost hours alone will be enough to recoup the cost of the software.