What is User Activity Monitoring?
User Activity Monitoring enables managers and admins to track and collect employee’s real-time usage and behavior data on company networks, connected devices, and monitored workstations. With the increase in open access to the internet and a more relaxed work culture, it is possible for team members to misuse the organization’s resources.
You might have specific questions regarding your organization. Who is your most productive employee? What kind of software are utilized majorly in your organization? What time of the day is your team the most productive?
User Activity Monitoring answers all of the above questions. It enables you to have an overall view of how all activities occur in your organization.
By implementing User Activity Monitoring, organizations can be more efficient in tracking the online activities of the employee, ensuring that resources are appropriately utilized, and stopping any activity that leads to loss of productivity and puts your organization at risk.
User Activity Monitoring is a type of proactive surveillance that helps to prevent misuse of access privileges.
How does User Activity Monitoring work?
User Activity Monitoring captures the use of applications and programs on the monitored workstation. The onscreen user activities complicated in a log. This ensures that company data remains secure and the employees are performing their assigned tasks efficiently.
Activity Tracking includes features like
Remote Workstation Screenshots
Remote Workstation Screenshots allow you to monitor what the device user’s activity by capturing screenshots.
Real-time activity monitoring
Real-time activity monitoring allows you to monitor the activities taking place in real-time on a computer. You can observe and analyze all the data.
User Activity Reports
All user activities are contained in the User Activity Report.
Malicious Website Blocking
With this feature, you can restrict access to websites that are unproductive or distracting. Usually, companies prefer to block social media websites, Online gaming portals, entertainment and streaming websites such as Netflix.
This feature helps to track the performance level of any employee concerning productivity. With productivity tracking, you can help your employees to improve in areas of work where they feel difficulty, leading to overall improvement of the organization.
Every time a predefined condition is matched when any activity is performed, an alarm is triggered. These alarms notify about unwanted activity immediately.
Keystroke logging is a feature where the keyboard activity is captured. The keystrokes are recorded and stored in a log file. All kind of operations performed on the keyboard are captured via Keystroke Logging.
User Activity Monitoring Tools
There are many kinds of user activity tracking tools on the market. These tools employ different features for different purposes, such as tracking activity for many users, vs. looking into activity for one user. A useful tool would be the one that allows you both, multiple tracking or single user tracking as per your requirement.
A User Activity Monitoring software monitors the user screen in the background, and when a targeted activity takes place, it alerts the administrator or the manager.
For example, you can set an alarm condition for downloading unauthorized software on a work computer. If an employee tries to download one, the alarm will be triggered and you will be immediately notified of the activity.
All the activities, depending on your software can store the monitored activity in some format. Most common forms are screenshots or videos.
When some action takes place that matches the criteria, an alarm will trigger informing the manager about any suspicious activity.
Let’s check out some advantages in detail.
Advantages of User Activity Monitoring
Saves Time and Resources
According to The Art of Not Working at Work, the average time spent on private activities at work is between 1.5 and three hours a day.
In a report by Court, it states that a company of 500 employees loses approximately $1 million annually if they use the internet just a half hour a day.
Using a user activity tracking application helps you keep track of resource utilization and employee activities, which saves an immense amount of money for the organization.
When the right task is assigned to the right people, it leads to an increase in the productivity of the organization. It is essential to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the employee to assign them tasks true to their potential.
With the help of monitoring, the employee can learn who is better at specific tasks. For example, if two team members are assigned a similar job, the manager can track the activity to conclude who has a better workflow.
According to the 2018 Cost of Insider Threats: Global Organizations, 64% of the insider threat attacks occur due to negligent behavior of an employee or contractor. On the other hand, 23% attacks were deliberately malicious, and 13% involved user credential theft.
Given access to the network and so much sensitive data – personal and organizational, there are huge liabilities like disclosure of confidential information, unauthorized duplication of files and more. Thus, user activity tracking becomes a necessity.
The alarms and website blocking characteristics of a user tracking system will help to inform you and others of any unwanted activity.
Alarms are predefined conditions that trigger when any activity meets your defined criteria. Alarms can trigger emails, screenshots or video notifications to the admin.
If you find out that an employee is accessing restricted data or a malicious website, you have the option to block the website so it won’t be accessible at all
Benefits to Employees
Wondering how User Activity Monitoring can be helpful to employees? Let’s check out the benefits:
Employees get better recognition as their excellence in their work doesn’t go unnoticed.
Employers can create the most efficient team. This gives the employee the opportunity to work in an excellent team.
User Activity Monitoring offers transparency.
According to a Salesforce.com study, 86% of executives blame workplace failures on a lack of collaboration and poor communication. It is wise to have a transparent work environment that has open communication between the employees and managers.
Open communication creates trust, and that trust leads to honest communication. This creates a harmonious work environment which in turn provides an excellent organizational environment.
Helps to recognize the real potential of an employee which can lead to lucrative incentives.
Employees can support their case in an annual salary raise with real data, and they receive useful feedback from the manager.
The Disadvantages of User Activity Monitoring
The most common drawbacks of user activity tracking are a high level of stress for employees, mistrust, and invasion of privacy.
Stress and Mistrust
The issues of stress, mistrust, and invasion of privacy are interdependent. Activity tracking can make the employee feel like they are always under constant scrutiny that leads them to feel stressed. Tracking every computer activity of the employee makes them feel that privacy is violated. The company has rights to monitor the network and devices provided that it is company property.
To avoid this situation, the employee should be informed to understand the work policy of the organization and the fact that they don’t have to worry about keeping a mental check at every step of their task.
Ignorance between Professional and Personal Time
Sometimes employee monitoring becomes more about control than improvement or optimization of the work environment.
In such issues, the employer monitors activities even when the employee is off-duty. A considerable amount of data is collected under the means of monitoring.
All the personal information collected which is irrelevant to the job lead to a violation of privacy.
The employer must make ethical use of the employee monitoring technology. Limiting the tracking to work hours is a good way to avoid this issue.
Legal Consideration while implementing Tracking Applications
It is legal for the employer to monitor the activity on any device or network that is provided by the organization. According to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, “unless company policy specifically states otherwise, your employer may monitor most of your work activity.”
The employers have the right to monitor the emails, applications and website use. Anything online or offline on the computer can be monitored. Other forms of monitoring also include video surveillance, GPS tracking, audio recording in the work premises.
Few employers make the right decision by informing the employees about the monitoring. This decision makes it legal to monitor employee as they already have their consent. The best approach is to go through the federal laws of your state and seek legal advice before you decide to implement any tracking software on your employees’ computer.
User Activity Monitoring Best Practices
No one wants to be seen as a dictator. That situation can be avoided by following best practices and implementing proper policies. Following the suggestions below can help you represent your intentions to your team in a positive light.
Be transparent with your employees.
Your team should be made aware of the tracking system on their workstations. It is a good practice to include the acknowledgment of using monitoring software in the work contract.
Talk with your employees and ensure them that the purpose of tracking is limited to the improvement of organization and their private data is secure.
Build a custom-tailored Internet Usage Policy for your organization.
The best course of action would be to arrange a special meeting for your employees. Assure the employees that monitoring is for the protection and welfare of the company and employees too.
How to identify which system is suitable for you?
There are three main criteria to consider while selecting a User Activity Monitoring software:
Decide goals you want to achieve for your business
Make a list of goals for your business and then think how a particular software helps you to reach them. Some possibilities can be:
- Secure company’s Data Better
- Improve efficiency in the organization
- Legal protection for the company and employees
- Optimize Expenses
- Employee Retention
Limitations and ease of use
You have to check what speed, storage and data the software offers.
All companies have different requirements and expectations from the software. Check if the software can provide custom development for your company.
As the number of applications increase, complexity increases. Using a monitoring software that allows multiple integrations can help to reduce that complexity and make workflow smooth-running and effective.
As mentioned before, an organization goes through multiple changes. Updating data through all applications is a tedious task. Having integrated applications makes updating easier and time efficient.
Therefore, choosing software that offers unlimited integrations of applications can make life easier.
The Cost and Time
There are so many software options out there that it’s easy to purchase a seemingly useful software that doesn’t meet your specific needs.
Checking the price point of licenses offered is essential.
Any company is always changing. New employees get added to and removed from an organization all the time. So it is important to avoid any hassles and select the software where new members can be added to the team quickly.
It is also essential to know the software requirements. Different softwares have different system support requirements.
Some also require physical servers to store all data onsite. Choosing to have all the data onsite might incur into additional cost. At the same time, a cloud-based software does not require anything extra.
Sometimes the software you use might be complicated to use and extract information from or have a complex installation process. Therefore, it is essential to know if you need to invest in a team to use and maintain the software. Another option is to install such software that you can get running efficiently by yourself.
User Activity Monitoring is a fundamental part of data protection for organizations today. The best option for the organization would be to combine the monitoring of user activity and data discovery that helps to secure the organization and enforce policy-based controls.
Now that you are more aware of the uses, advantages, and disadvantages, you will have a clear idea on how to increase the efficiency and productivity in your organization.
Not only does it help you protect the company property and make informed decisions, but also helps to improve your employees’ work dynamic and focus.
In-Depth knowledge about User Activity Monitoring
SHRM STATE LAW & REGULATION RESOURCES
Congratulations! Now you have the knowledge to boost the progress of your organization. Improving your organization is your most important goal, and for achieving that, you need to measure, and that can only be done if you have the right tools. The bigger picture that is provided by one right tool will lead to productivity and help your organization achieve efficiency.