For many enterprises, the solution to the problem of lost productivity is employee monitoring.

Non-Work Activities and Employee Productivity

One of the hidden costs that HR leaders and administrators have to contend with is employees engaging in non-work related activities at work. Employees reportedly spend roughly 75 minutes every day on their computer doing non-work activities, according to EmployeePC. Depending on the size of the workforce, this can cost organizations tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of dollars every year in productivity losses.

“For many enterprises, the solution to stemming the flow of lost productivity is monitoring.”

Constant Surfing Equals Constant Productivity Loss

According to a employee survey, nearly 64 percent said they visit non-work related websites every day during work hours. This non-work web surfing leads to a 40 percent loss of productivity each year at American businesses. And this loss translates to significant waste, even for relatively small companies. For a business of 100 employees working 5 days a week at $25 an hour, 75 minutes of lost work time per day would add up to roughly $812,500 per year.

Employee Monitoring

For many enterprises, the solution to the problem is employee monitoring. Enterprises have a variety of options that can be used to keep track of non-work related activities, including email filters, website visit logs, and even keystroke logging software. “All sorts of monitoring takes place for all sorts of reasons,” explained Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute, while speaking to The Society for Human Resource. “Virtually every company conducts electronic monitoring.” “Your employees sometimes feel like Big Brother is watching,” Dan Quillen, director of internal services for the city of Aurora, Colorado, also told the news source. This can be disconcerting, even for employees who are acting in accordance with stated policy, and can lead to morale issues due to a perception of managerial distrust. This can contribute to increased turnover or a hostile work environment.

The Right to Privacy Versus the Right to Know

Yet tracking employees in the Internet can be dicey territory when it comes to preserving necessary privacy and ensuring compliance with employment laws and regulations. Even situations where employers have the legal right to monitor employees come with legal limits – violation of which can result in severe penalties in the form of fines and lawsuits. To avoid legal pitfalls, follow these monitoring best practices: Inform Employees They are Being Monitored A clear, well-written policy that is giving out to workers during employee onboarding can help avoid confusion – as well as potentially cut bad behavior on the job. Spell out if employees are allowed to send or receive personal emails on work devices or if they are allowed to check personal cell phones during work hours. Do Not Target Legally Protected Classes This can include workers with disabilities, workers of a particular race, age or gender, as well as religion. Employees should be monitored without discrimination. Consider Data Integrity and Security Collecting employee data means warehousing potentially sensitive personal information. This makes the security of all data collected imperative. If an archive is compromised, an employer can be held liable for not keeping data secure. Take Into Account Social Media According to a recent Symantec survey, nearly 90 percent of firms report having felt negative ramifications from employees’ social media. The key is to build clear and coherent social media guidelines into your employment contract. Focus On Improvement, Not Punishment If an employee appears to be spending undue time on personal work, do not stress a punitive approach at first. Having access to the Internet can be very alluring and often the employee may be unaware that they are doing anything wrong, so work on educating them before you discipline them. Seek Legal Council Before Setting Up Monitoring To avoid additional idiosyncrasies and legal issues you might not be able to anticipate, consult with a lawyer when drawing up any HR and employee documents. While proprietary and potentially secret, you want your guidelines to withstand scrutiny.  

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