Employee internet usage monitoring can be a very useful tool in the workplace. Monitoring can save your company money that would have been lost to cyberloafing, poor time-tracking, and other productivity issues. It can also prevent security issues like malware, phishing attempts, and corporate espionage.
On the other hand, monitoring internet usage may ruffle some feathers if it’s not introduced to employees in the right way. No one enjoys feeling as if they can’t be trusted to do their jobs and make good decisions without being watched. However, there are definitely ways to balance the company’s internet usage monitoring needs with your employees’ concerns. Take a look at three tips that will help you monitor employee internet usage the right way.
1. Know What You Need and What You Don’t Need
Internet usage monitoring software can help keep employees’ minds off entertainment and on their work.
Different companies have different internet monitoring needs. The best employee monitoring tools are customizable enough to allow you to use what you need and leave what you don’t need.
In some offices, employees routinely deal with workplace-related documents and communications on computers, smartphones and chromebooks makes sense.
Look into the different monitoring options available to you. In most companies, you’ll want the ability to review activity by URL, web searches, employee browing history or website category. This is a very useful capability for preventing both cyberloafing and security risks like malware, as well as other potential workplace problems.
For example, getting alerted to any adult websites visited by employees during workhours by using internet usage monitoring software helps prevents the possibility that employees using those sites may be creating a hostile work environment for other employees, opening up the company to liability.
Other helpful features for many businesses include the ability to see which websites employees are visiting and also what files they access on the company websites. Features like keylogging, which allow you to review what your employees are typing, may or may not be necessary – or may be necessary for some departments, but not others.
Doing some research into the employee internet monitoring features and options available and deciding what your company needs and doesn’t need is a good place to start. Keep in mind that you may develop different needs later on, so a software package that has lots of features and that is easily customizable (so you can use what you need when and where you need it) is usually a better choice than one that only has a few features.
2. Be Upfront With Your Employees
While it’s true that no one likes to feel that they’re being spied on, most employees will accept a certain amount of their internet usage to be monitored. It’s become part of the cost of doing business and is common in workplaces. What employees don’t like is finding out after the fact that they’ve been monitored. Nor do employees like finding out that the monitoring was more extensive than they were initially led to believe.
If you want to monitor employee internet usage, be transparent about the use of employee monitoring software. You may encounter fewer problems with employees browsing social media or answering personal emails on company time if they’re aware that they’re being monitored, and that’s a good thing! That’s less time you’ll need to spend redirecting, retraining, or deciding how to discipline employees. And it’s more time that everyone is spending on work.
Keep in mind that the goal of monitoring your employee’s internet use is not to catch your employees in the act – it’s to save you money and boost productivity. If simply knowing that a web monitoring system is in place changes employee behavior for the better, then it’s gone a long way toward accomplishing its goal.
3. Get it in Writing
A strong internet usage policy can lead to a more peaceful workplace for everyone.
The key to a smooth transition from no monitoring to a comprehensive monitoring situation, or to introduce employees to a new way to monitor employee internet usage is by being transparent with policies. Policies should explain employee rights and responsibilities regarding internet use in the workplace and on company devices. Additionally, it should spell out the specifics of the company’s internet usage policy.
Having a strong written policy in place that every employee reads and signs provides protection for both the company and the employee. With a clear policy in place, employees can’t claim they were unaware of the company’s rules and guidelines for things like social media and internet use. They have to accept responsibility for their own actions on company devices and networks.
But a strong corporate internet usage policy protects the employee as well. A situation where the company can make or change rules on a whim because there aren’t written and previously-agreed-to policies in place is not a good situation for any employee. A written policy assures the employee that they’re protected from arbitrary and capricious actions on the part of their employer.
Make sure that your policy on monitoring also explains how any employee data that’s collected will be used. There are legitimate reasons to fear that personal data that’s insecurely stored or collected indiscriminately will be used in ways that the owner of the data doesn’t approve of.
Your employees have a right to know what you’re doing with their data and that you’ll safeguard their sensitive information the same way that you’d safeguard a client or customer’s sensitive information. You may want to give your employees the option to request that any personal data collected that isn’t relevant to their job or your company is erased. If so, include the relevant information in your written internet policy.
When you’re deciding on a monitoring solution that will work best for your company, it can help to see that solution in action for yourself. Find out how our internet usage monitoring software can work for you.