How to Master Employee Productivity Monitoring: Tips for Success

43% of all companies are engaging in some form of workplace surveillance. That number increases for remote work with 78% of companies conducting remote work surveillance, according to a 2023 survey by ExpressVPN

At Prodoscore, we believe in using a monitoring solution to reward employee contributions, visualize what success looks like for coaching opportunities, and empower managers and employees to be the best they can be. Non-invasive solutions give management the insights they need to drive company growth and employee development without creating an environment that feels like “Big Brother.” In short, monitoring for the purpose of simply surveilling workers offers little to no value and is more likely to lead to disengaged and unmotivated employees. 

The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University released some insights on how to conduct employee productivity monitoring that focuses on trust, privacy, security, and fairness. It begins with abandoning surveillance-style technology and making incremental improvements from there. 

1. Mitigate Security Risks with a Non-Invasive Approach

More invasive methods are also less secure methods. Solutions that provide extra-granular information also collect data which could be harmful to your company in the wrong hands. In fact, the more invasive the method, the less secure it is for your company. 

Video monitoring feeds, for example, or solutions that take pictures of employee screens could capture highly confidential company information which bad actors would love to get their hands on. This is probably the best argument against invasive monitoring in the security-first climate we live in.

2. Opt for an Employee-Centric Solution that Boosts Productivity

At the same time, invasive solutions often breed resentment among workers as they chip away at employee trust, fostering a stressful, micromanaged environment.  Instead of focused work, employees become anxious about every click and keystroke, potentially sacrificing quality for the sake of racking up metrics. This can lead to burnout and ultimately, a drop in the very productivity employers were hoping to boost

3. Who and What Needs To Be Monitored: All In Is The Best Strategy

When balancing employee concerns with management goals, the idea may be floated that everyone doesn’t need their productivity monitored. This option is more attractive if you’re looking at more invasive options such as keyloggers and video cameras which would inspire more employee pushback. However, with a non-invasive and employee-centric approach where the value of data is top of mind, a comprehensive view offers the most insight. By capturing data across various roles and departments, we get a holistic understanding of how workflows and can start to identify trends across teams, departments, roles and the organization overall.  

Consider this: monitoring just a single lightbulb reveals limited information. But by examining the entire electrical grid, you can identify power deficiencies, optimize energy usage, and ensure smooth overall functionality.

Kellogg offers that simple, easy tasks are the best to monitor, while more complex ones are harder to monitor and incentivize. For example, data entry can easily be monitored, and output rewarded. Crafting a strategy for a client is a more complex task which may be monitored, but is harder to incentivize based on deliverables.

4. Productivity Monitoring Should be Part of a General Program of Improvement

The Kellogg insights include the following:

“If you can use technologies to help people improve their performance, rather than merely tying it to sanctions and direct rewards, they will be much more willing to accept monitoring.” 

-Hatim Rahman, “Companies Now Have Many Tools to Monitor Employee Productivity. When Should They Use Them?” ( Kellogg Insights)

This is where Prodoscore’s concept of “rewarding the good” comes into play. While you should use these insights to reward employees (and we have a few good ideas about designing those programs here), sanctions should be replaced with seeing what a “good” work pattern looks like and using those patterns to build a blueprint for improvement. If employees know that they will be coached rather than punished if there are issues, they are far more likely to sign on to an employee productivity monitoring program.

Where Productivity Monitoring Falls Short

If there is poor implementation of the solution, such as haphazard application of who and what is monitored, the insights become bad data that shouldn’t be acted on. Kellogg also makes an argument against invasive monitoring solutions, stating that remote work surveillance should be happening only with tools that would also be used for in-office workers. 

Trust is really the biggest factor in the failure of such systems. Hemingway once said that “the only way to trust someone is to trust them.” If an employer lacks trust in their employees, that is a symptom of a greater problem and not the entire issue. Non-invasive employee monitoring is a great way to create trust, but companies should look at the core issues creating the mistrust in the first place. It might be a disillusionment with remote work, targets not being met - these are all things that can be addressed in other ways. 

Non-invasive monitoring, trusting employees to do the right thing, tying the right incentives to work, and ensuring that data gathered is used for good and not to punish are the key ingredients in mastering a valuable employee productivity monitoring strategy. We can help with a solution that monitors the productivity of your employees based on how they interact with various cloud-based business tools. It’s a simple, straightforward and secure solution that helps you strike the right balance.

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