Many companies have gone through this and the experience shows, time and time again, that full transparency is the best way to go. From observing the law to reclaiming your employees’ trust to making them more comfortable and thus more productive working in that environment, the benefits and importance of being upfront about surveillance of employees at work and monitoring computer activities can’t be stressed enough.
A huge part of this onboarding process is letting them voice their opinions on the use of work monitoring tool and ask any questions about it that they may have.
And they will have them.
A lot of them.
Some will be pretty straightforward but others might be tricky and unexpected. The crucial thing if you want your employees to accept this new scheme is to be prepared to answer all their questions truthfully and as clearly as possible.
To make this already difficult task a little bit easier for you, we’ve put together a list of ten most common questions that you can expect to hear from employees along with the best way to handle them.
1. What is Employee Monitoring Software and How Does It Work?
"What is employee monitoring software and how does it work" is a pretty general and straightforward question that you can expect if you didn’t properly introduce your chosen software for monitoring computer activities.
Your answer should be equally straightforward and as simple as you can make it. Tell them that it’s a piece of software that’s installed on each of their computers and works in the background, collecting data on what they do on their computers and tracking time they spend on these activities. Make sure you also inform them about who’s going to have full access to the dashboard with all their data and reports.
If you wish, you can tell them which exactly monitor tracking software you’re going to use (for example, whether it’s Insightful or some other brand) and encourage them to visit their website and get more details on how that particular online tracking app works and what features it has.
2. What Kinds of Things Can Monitoring Software Track?
This more specific question will give you an opportunity to go into more detail on which aspects of employees’ computer activity can be detected and recorded. And your answer will depend largely on the type of desktop tracking software you use as they all have slightly different features.
So get informed well before the onboarding starts, because if you don’t specify this yourself, this question is pretty much inevitable.
In answering, you should mention everything - that monitoring computer activities includes detecting which apps and websites employees use, how much time they spend on each of these tasks, when they turn on their machines and when they turn them off, any periods of inactivity, etc. Don’t forget to mention screenshots or any other additional features your software might have.
3. How are You Going to Use The Data?
How you handle this question will determine the way your workers accept the new circumstances. So making sure they’re happy with the answer is critical.
First off, if you don’t know the answer or if you feel that employees really wouldn’t like it, you probably shouldn’t be monitoring computer activities anyway. There, we said it.
Otherwise, if your monitoring is ethical, you’ve got no reason not to be honest with your employees. Is it because you want to improve the efficiency of business processes? Or is it because you’re feeling that the overall productivity is going down? Or you want some additional security for company data and files? Maybe even all three?
You should also tell them which aspects of the reports you’re going to focus on and how measuring these things will help you get to the business goals you’ve outlined earlier. If you can do this and it makes sense, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
You’d be surprised how understanding employees can be!
4. Can I See My Own Data?
It’s a natural reaction to want to see what your boss can see when it comes to employees’ performance. How does it look if I open Facebook really quickly? Will making that second cup of coffee reflect badly on my overall productivity? These and many more similar questions are probably going through your employees minds and just seeing their data could help answer all of them.
Many tracking programs for computers offer employee login through which they get access to all their data. This is a perfect opportunity to let your workers know about this possibility and encourage them to use it.
5. Should I Change the Way I Work Because of Employee Task Tracking?
Since their performance and productivity is now quantified in a novel kind of way, some employees might be curious to know what the best way to ‘please’ the work trackers is and if they should change the way they work and do certain tasks.
Here, it’s important to let your employees know that the software is only there to help analyze their current performance and that they don’t have to make any major adjustments because of it. Later, when the data is in, you might be able to suggest some improvements but all of these changes should be planned.
So reassure your workers that all they should be focusing on is getting the work done and making it high quality. Just like they’ve been doing so far.
6. Do I Have to Activate the Software or Interact with It in Any Way?
The exact procedure of being monitored via online work tracker can be a bit confusing in its simplicity. But really, the answer is as direct as it gets - no, no interaction whatsoever is necessary, the program activates automatically and all the data is collected in the background, again, automatically. And if the next question ensues - yes, this means you can’t turn it off either.
This is if you’re not looking to track project and task time. If you opt in for that option, your employees will need to click start/stop button whenever they switch between tasks or projects.
7. Will You Be Able to Read My Private Messages?
Or look at my Instagram feed? Or see what I’m browsing on Amazon? Or get access to by bank account details? Or any other question about private matters that employers shouldn’t have access to…
This is a really tricky one, because if you have features like screenshots and keystroke monitoring, the answer is technically ‘yes’.
However, do your best to reassure your employees that you’re not going to actually do it. It’s best if you put it in writing and make it an official binding policy. This is something that’s illegal in a lot of countries anyway but this step will demonstrate to your workers that you’ll do your absolute best to keep their privacy protected.
And if all else fails, advise your employees to use corporate computers for professional activities only and conduct any private correspondence on their personal phones.
8. Can I Still Take Breaks Without Being Fired?
Here, again, you should encourage your employees to act in a normal way. Assure them that you consider breaks to be a normal part of their work routine and that you won’t expect them to be chained to their computers all the time.
And speaking of expectations, you might also want to prepare for this next one.
9. What are Your Expectations Considering My Performance Now?
It’s a reasonable question. After all, the method of gauging employees’ performance is changing. So, does anything else change with it?
This again depends on your goals. You’ll probably have some sort of productivity and efficiency improvement on the agenda somewhere down the line, but make sure your employees know what your plans are and, most importantly, that you won’t have any ridiculous expectations like working for six hours straight without a single little break.
So, ultimately, what you should try to communicate is the expectation for steady improvement.
10. What’s in It for Me?
Finally, you might have to deal with employees who care about their own personal benefits from software usage tracking. This is fair enough - sometimes it’s hard to have compassion for abstract notions like company goals.
Luckily, you can expect a lot of goodies for employees as well - higher productivity, accurate overtime tracking, objective evaluation, fair payroll and so on and so forth. All you have to do is inform your employees about these and explain to them how tracking employee computer activity will help you achieve all this as a team.
Monitoring computer activities can be a delicate matter but an even more sensitive situation is facing your employees and telling them about it. The list of questions we’ve provided is by no means exhaustive and in reality you’re likely to get a couple of weird ones on the side as well. But now you at least have some idea of what kind of reaction you can expect from your employees and how to respond. The only thing left to say is - good luck!