Us vs. Them – Differentiating ActivTrak From Traditional Employee Monitoring Solutions

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Home > Blog > Us vs. Them – Differentiating ActivTrak From Traditional Employee Monitoring Solutions

Employee monitoring solutions are not new; these kinds of solutions have been utilized as a form of digital corporate surveillance for a number of years. According to professional services company Accenture’s report, Decoding Organizational DNA, 62% of organizations already have technologies in place today that collect some form of data on their workforce to gain more actionable insights. Traditionally, the focus has been on monitoring the actions of employees with access to sensitive information as part of an insider threat prevention program. 

But organizations today are realizing the benefits of looking beyond what some employees feel is tantamount to spying, and instead are using the visibility into workforce behavior as a means to analyze and improve employee productivity. A complete 180° shift, this new focus brings with it the opportunity to improve the organization’s execution, reputation, and profitability.

If you’re currently evaluating (or considering evaluating) an employee monitoring or workforce productivity tool, there is no “one size fits all” solution; every solution on the market has been built around particular use cases. The monitoring of the malicious insider and the less-productive employee have very different requirements and outcomes. This means the solution you choose needs to be carefully selected; it’s important to first understand the specific goals you have for using an employee monitoring solution, taking into consideration the values of your company to determine which solution or solutions best align with your needs.

There are typically four key considerations that matter most to business leaders who use, or are in the process of evaluating, employee monitoring and workforce productivity tools. These are:

  • Ease of adoption
  • Visibility into workforce productivity
  • Ensuring employee privacy
  • Maintaining trust and morale

In this article, we’ll look at each of these four considerations, providing guidance on how employee monitoring solutions can impact the organization, as well as offer up details on how ActivTrak stacks up to traditional employee monitoring solutions to better meet your needs.  

Ease of Adoption

The success of your employee monitoring program rests in the adoption of the solution by both IT and employees. The value gained by implemented solutions starts in its proper configuration and, therefore, usage in order to provide insight. IT can easily be hampered by the installation and configuration of overcomplicated SIEM solutions designed to monitor more than just workforce productivity, or employee monitoring solutions that collect massive amounts of activity detail.  If IT can’t easily implement a solution, you may never see the solution’s true value. Employees equally play an important role in monitoring to improve workforce performance; if they are not invested in using such a solution to modify their behavior, what’s the point? To ensure employee buy-in, it’s necessary to involve them early on. According to Accenture, 42% of employees say doing so would strengthen trust in their employer. 

Traditional employee monitoring solutions take significant time to implement and configure. Most support collecting a wide range of employee activity data that may or may not be useful in your quest to improve workforce productivity. For example, some solutions capture nearly every employee interaction with their computer – mouse clicks, application window names, even how many times they print. This data often is far too granular and offers little insight into improving the productivity of the workforce. And most locally-installed solutions provide little visibility into cloud-based application usage – a real problem, given that employees have largely transitioned to working remotely, switching to cloud-based applications.

Unlike others, ActivTrak was developed as a cloud-native, SaaS application that is easy to deploy and configure. The software can be up and running in minutes (whereas non-SaaS applications can be challenging to deploy in a remote workforce environment) to identify operational bottlenecks, flag operational compliance risks, and provide valuable insights that help employees and employers improve productivity outcomes.

This makes your IT team’s life easier, while user interaction with their own productivity data is as simple as visiting a webpage. Whether employees are in-office or working remotely, ActivTrak’s Data Connect feature integrates collected user activity data with cloud applications such as Salesforce, ZenDesk, Jira, and others, to provide a complete picture of workforce activity as your organization’s operations evolve.

Visibility into Workforce Productivity

Organizations want to get the most out of their employees, and most employees are looking for ways to improve their own performance. In Accenture’s report, 92% of employees are open to the idea of collecting work activity data, but only if it boosts their performance or well-being. And 82% believe monitoring to improve workforce productivity can improve fairness in pay, promotions and appraisal decisions, a big win for employees.

Traditional employee monitoring solutions do monitor application activity and inactivity which can demonstrate who is and isn’t working (i.e., seeing that an employee has actively been on social media all day), but doesn’t offer insight into what a productive employee looks like and, in turn, what changes each employee can make to improve. 

ActivTrack utilizes workforce analytics to gain visibility into employee productivity and engagement. ActivTrak can help you discover which software applications are slowing things down and which applications increase collaboration and efficiency. Workforce analytics can not only help identify star performers, but also help all employees learn and adopt the top productive behaviors that can benefit the entire organization.

Ensuring Employee Privacy

Employees want privacy for two major reasons. First, they don’t want someone digitally looking over their shoulder and judging every move they make. Second, they enjoy a work-life balance that at times may include personal activities on their work devices. So, it becomes imperative that employees feel that any solution implemented is not invading their sense of privacy. This issue of employee privacy can kill an employee monitoring project altogether. In fact, 31% of executives are holding back from investing in workforce data gathering over employee sensitivity concerns around privacy. So, it’s important to choose a solution that is built with employee privacy in mind.

Traditional employee monitoring solutions record every action performed, down to the keystroke and mouse click, capturing personal passwords, screenshots of employees on their banking websites, and more. They are somewhat configurable to not collect certain activity details, but at best it’s a workaround, rather than part of a solution’s design.

Unlike other companies, ActivTrak is dedicated to protecting employee privacy. Our product is Privacy Shield certified, and we’ve purposely built the platform to respect the privacy of employees while delivering valuable productivity insights. ActivTrak avoids overbearing monitoring features that simply don’t yield the increases in productivity you want and only lower employee morale. The data collected focuses on business intelligence, operational processes and overall workforce productivity. 

Maintaining Trust and Morale

Employees want to feel valued and trusted. So, implementing employee monitoring programs without the involvement of employees can be a valid cause for concern. Programs implemented without educating staff on the purpose of the program and how it operates are often met with resistance and distrust. Traditional employee monitoring solutions run in stealth by default, adding to the lack of transparency between the employer and employee. 52 percent of employees feel this kind of tactic risks damaging employee trust, making it extremely important to select a solution that can be used openly to create transparency between the organization and the employee.

At ActivTrak, we strongly believe that transparency is critical. We recommend that employers communicate openly about the implementation of their employee monitoring program, the program’s purpose of helping to optimize employee and team productivity, and how the program will aid in furthering both employee and organizational success. In doing so, your team is more likely to feel respected and open to the program. Our product defaults to being run in the open, with employees being fully aware of the monitoring of their activity. It also offers the employee visibility into their own activity data and productivity insights, uniquely providing an additional layer of employee monitoring transparency.

Win-Win Employee Monitoring

As with many solutions that change the way your business operates, features and functions need to take a back seat to organizational values and concerns that may be impacted – particularly when implementing something that might affect employee privacy.

If you’re only looking for an employee monitoring tool that helps you “catch the bad guys”, you have plenty of options. If, however, you’re looking for an employee monitoring solution that gives you visibility into workforce productivity, ensures operational compliance, protects employee privacy, maintains trust and morale, AND is easy to deploy, ActivTrak comes out ahead. 

Try ActivTrak for Free!

We have evolved from our roots in employee monitoring into a powerful app that provides workforce visibility and insights while promoting trust and transparency between employers and employees, whether in-office or remote. Our mission is to provide insight, not oversight. Not all technologies take that same approach.

Our cloud-based user activity monitoring platform collects and analyzes data and provides insights that help organizations be more productive and operationally compliant. It is affordable and easy-to-use with multiple licensing options including monthly plans. We have more than 7,500 customers and over 100,000 users of our free version.

Try ActivTrak risk-free by starting a free account today! (No credit card required).

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