Three reasons employee monitoring software is making a comeback

Companies are increasingly implementing employee and user activity monitoring software to:

  • Ensure data privacy
  • Protect intellectual property and sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands
  • Stop malicious or unintentional data exfiltration attempts
  • Find ways to optimize processes and improve employee productivity.

Modern user activity monitoring software is incredibly flexible, providing companies with the insights they need while offering the protection they demand. By examining three prominent use cases, it’s evident that employee monitoring software is the right tool for our digital moment.

Data privacy

One of the loudest complaints about employee monitoring software is that it can be used to spy on employees. However, as anyone with a smartphone knows, there are numerous ways to avoid making personal information detectable by employee monitoring software.

The software actually preserves privacy on many fronts. Perhaps most obviously, it helps protect client data, a privacy component that is increasingly important. No company wants to be the next Marriott or Equifax, and in a post-GDPR world this isn’t just an altruistic value proposition. 2019 is expected to be a year of GDPR enforcement, bringing fines and penalties for companies that fail to adequately secure customer information.

For example, employee monitoring can ensure that correct data management practices are in effect, and it identifies erroneous behavior related to sensitive customer information.

Since the modern workforce is collaborative and includes third-party vendors, in-house employees and privileged users, employee monitoring software adequately oversees all network activity, providing an audit trail for users, offering a deterrent to malfeasance and a clear record of accountability.

IP protection

Modern employee monitoring software is dynamic and can help protect a company’s most valuable asset: its intellectual property. This is especially important for startups, a class of company almost entirely predicated on their unique ideas.

Tesla, a startup with significantly more financial and cultural capital than most other companies, is struggling to contain the fallout of such a situation. The company is suing a former employee, Martin Tripp, who stands accused of transferring gigabytes of the company’s data – including photographs and video of their famed electric car – to outside sources.

Even Apple, one of the most influential and wealthy companies in the world, isn’t immune to this practice. Two former Apple employees have been charged with stealing IP related to the company’s autonomous car project. They allegedly stole thousands of files including manuals, diagrams and photographs of the project.

Companies of all sizes have a responsibility to themselves, their shareholders and their customers to protect their intellectual property, and user activity monitoring ensures oversight and control of this facet of an organization. Moreover, the software produces an audit trail, which can be used as forensic evidence if a breach or other malicious activity occurs.

Process optimization

When examining critical trends in the modern workforce, the Harvard Business Review concluded that “at a time when so many companies are starved for growth, senior leaders must bring a productivity mindset to their business and remove organizational obstacles to workforce productivity.”

To this end, employee monitoring software can identify workforce trends and process inefficiencies, allowing a data-driven, company-wide productivity model to drive company growth. By identifying and improving workflow bottlenecks, any organization can ensure that their employees are adequately deployed to the right task at the right time.

In a continually evolving modern workforce, employee monitoring software establishes a continuous feedback loop that helps identify best practices and promotes the refinement of established norms. With this information, companies can routinely retrain employees when appropriate, ensuring that organizations are putting their best foot forward when it comes to growth and productivity.

Privacy-friendly monitoring: An evolution in the right direction

Previous iterations of employee monitoring software offered little control over their design and usage. Of course, lax laws governing workplace privacy only compounded the problem, incentivizing employers to be unscrupulous in the implementation of this software.

But employee monitoring solutions have come a long way since then. Most notably, the introduction of privacy-friendly monitoring dictates that employee data rights and privacy must be protected.

More specifically, laws like Europe’s GDPR outline specific protections for employees, including limitations on the type of data that can be assessed and the duration for which it can be stored. While this sets a precedent for user activity monitoring, employees now have significantly more say in the process.

Employee monitoring software has evolved to account for this paradigm shift. Today’s software is highly configurable: companies can set them up to monitor relevant activity at appropriate times, turn off recording completely, or record only when established rules are violated or work-related apps are in use.

In today’s business world, data breaches, IP loss, and cybercrime dot the technological landscape. Employee monitoring software has been providing companies with the means to defend against such risk by delivering insider threat detection, data loss prevention, IP protection, and other cybersecurity benefits, so it’s not surprising that nearly 80% of major companies use some form of employee monitoring solution. Employees now have a say on when and how they are monitored. Most of all, the software they once thought was invading their privacy is now going to protect it.

That is a game changer, and it’s an evolution in the right direction.