Employee Monitoring Software : Importance in Corporate Atmospheres.

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December 10, 2015BusinessNo comments

In many ways, a corporate firm is like a statistical programming problem, and indeed, human resource managers often treat the operational efficiency of the firm in terms of equations. The objective of this system is primarily to optimize profit in case of private firms and efficiency and effectiveness for public and joint sector firms. The task of making a company as a whole run at a level where minimal expenditure can produce the maximum attainable profit with the greatest simplicity and versatility is not easy, as there are too many variables that determine the outcome. While purchase, procurement, administration, decorum, and morale are things that are commonly looked-into by most human resource departments, one of the recent means of inefficiency in a firm has turned out to be the internet. With memes, videos, graphic image files, and viral threads gaining in popularity, employees are easily distracted and often impaired in terms of productivity in the absence of positive reinforcement and incentives.

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Proposed ways of dealing with said problems are twofold: the first step to achieve this outcome is usually to block websites that eat into the work time of the company, especially social networks (unless they are relevant, which they often are), or other inappropriate or irrelevant content. The problem with this approach is that there are ample blurry boundaries; with billions of web pages on the internet, it is not an easy task to find and block each and every website that nebulously partakes of both relevant and irrelevant material, a common example being Wikipedia. What, then can be done in order to prevent people from browsing the internet for leisure on paid time? A simple and effective solution is employee management software.

What is employee monitoring software?

As the name suggests, these are software that are installed on every computer in a node or workstation of the company network that keeps records of the activity done by individual users in course of the day. While this started off as a means for tracking people wasting time with irrelevant emails, chatting, or other wasteful behaviour, it soon keeps track of the kind of work that a user is doing, including what is being typed, where the mouse pointer is, and what clicks are being made on the computer, in real time and throughout the working hours of the firm. While actively monitoring the data is subject to discretion of the human resource department, the mere fact that records are being kept is a great incentive for users to keep their activity in check. The use of employee monitoring software are much more diverse and influential than that; some of them are discussed below:

  1. Protecting Data

Many users in a company have access to sensitive data that, if leaked, can affect a company’s working, incur large losses, and occasionally even alter its public reputation. It is historically not uncommon for hackers or users otherwise to leak information of this nature to peers and competitor firms in exchange for money. While it is not possible to exclusively monitor all data flowing out of the company, an employee monitor software would record any instances of sensitive data being accessed, sent to locations inside or outside the firm by email, or being transferred to external devices using cables, FTPs, Bluetooth, or similar. This gives the company personnel a greater control over the information vital to the firm’s success and limits leaks to a minimum.

  1. Monitoring Inactivity

While it is useful to track employees who are browsing the internet inactively on paid time, it is also a purpose of the software to track the amount of work that an employee is doing in any given duration of time. Long logged-in sessions of inactivity, or a personal workstation used infrequently, are also indicative of lack of productivity or even laziness. If an employee is frequently off their desk or is otherwise not logged into their work station in course of the day, they might be wasting a considerable portion of their time not doing the work they’re paid for. In most corporate or research atmospheres that involve responsibility, employees’ working time is logged. Time spent away from the workplace is recorded along with the purpose, time logged into the system is monitored for activity. While this might be difficult to get used it, it actually allows for fewer misunderstandings.

  1. Helps with Audits

Aside of problems caused by data leaks, another major contributor to company efficiency is discrepancies in accounts. Routine audits are conducted in most commercial sectors to ensure that fund acquisition, allocation and expenditure takes place following rules and that there are no mismanagements in the cash flow. In large scale firms such as banks, it is sometimes the job of separate branches of a firm to visit other branches to audit their accounts, as something of that nature is best done by external personnel. Although problems with auditing are often technical and easily resolved, some can be potentially severe and even lead to criminal proceedings. An employee management system in situations such as that deal with a lot of the ambiguities with relative ease. The questions of who did a certain job, how it was done, who were involved and how it went are easily trackable given the date and time of the event. To that end, audit reports are faster with companies that have employee monitoring systems.

  1. Monitoring of Privileged Users

Although most employees in a firm have limited levels of access to property, some specialised users, usually those in human resources, have access to potentially sensitive data on individual employees, overall firm relations and plans for future development. These are usually also the people who have unrestricted access to data collected by the employee management system itself. While it is not difficult to monitor the average employee, a separate paradigm is required to make sure that the information held by the administrators is not misused. Hence, good employee management systems have paradigms that do not concentrate power on a single user or a small group of users. This allows data monitoring to go smoothly and prevents misuse or mistreatment of people until unavoidable.

How are Employee Management Software Incorporated?

It is surprisingly simple to incorporate an employee management software into a firm. To understand how they are implemented, it is important to keep in mind the firm’s network topologies and server types. Most firms will have a separate server computer storing commonly-used software and equipment or data for each department, or even multiple servers catering to either specific departments or the firm as a whole. The topology dictates the point at which the employee management package shall be installed. Once it is made available, interfaces need to exist for each user on each computer in the firm.

The interface runs as a background app in the computer and does not require any action on part of the user. It remains active as long as the computer is used and keeps track of the information it is made to record. Sporadically, the computer sends information back to the server where the data is stored in an encrypted file system that can only be accessed by privileged personnel.

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At the administrator side, the software has a full-blown interface that can be used to access information. Some Linux-based software packages do not have graphic user interfaces but can only be accessed through the command line using SSH clients and the likes, where individual files containing data in a specific format can be downloaded on command from a file-transfer protocol existent between the server and the administration. This not only prevents misuse of the data but also makes the system much more secure and free from hacking.

Most companies that sell employee management software also offer an installation service and customer care services both online and personally on demand. These packages can either be entirely owned by the firm, which is useful if the firm is large, or jointly controlled by the administration and the software developer. For very small firms, it is also often a good idea to outsource the entire operation to a third-party monitor leaving only the monitoring service to selected personnel. Given the versatility of installation and use and the massive effectiveness of the software, they have come to be a very popular choice among most human resource teams across the world.

Price wise, the software can either be bought one-off by a firm and used at its own discretion, or it can be rented by paying a monthly amount to the developing firm. Both have their merits and demerits, with the primary deciding factor being the manner in which the software is being used by the firm. For example, firms that outsource employee management software benefit more from renting the package compared to firms that operate it themselves. The control of the information collected can be encrypted by company protocols or by the developer depending on the manner of administration and the policy.

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