Ethical aspects of using employee monitoring software and its smooth introduction to the team

The decision to implement employee monitoring software seems like a smart way for employers to stay on top of everything and to prevent any delicate situations. At the same time, employees aren’t as eager to embrace such changes. Today we’ve decided to help you formulate the right approach to employee monitoring keeping in mind its ethical aspects and the goal to boost employee productivity without violating anyone’s privacy.

The global pandemic has made employers realize that their teams can in fact work remotely and complete their tasks from the comfort of their own homes. However, most companies don’t have any experience with monitoring remote employees and keeping track of them using automated solutions. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter if your team works at the office or from home, the challenge of ensuring high employee productivity and keeping track of their activity during working hours is universal for every supervisor.

In the recent years employee monitoring software has proven its tremendous value for employers, yet it still raises ethical concerns, especially among employees. Your job as a supervisor is to make sure employee monitoring in your company is implemented in an ethical way and is accepted by the team.

Basics of ethical employee monitoring

Employees mainly feel uncomfortable about the possibility of them being monitored because they consider it almost like a privacy invasion. Tracking employees without their consent not only presents a serious legal issue in most countries, but also tremendously weakens overall trust in the workplace. There’s a difference between monitoring and intrusion. Checking your employees’ personal accounts or reading their private messages isn’t the way to go about ensuring they aren’t doing anything illegal.

Generally, employees are fine with the kind of monitoring that is:

  • Open and transparent. Monitoring employees without their knowledge is the number one practice that’s universally considered unethical. Of course, if you suspect that someone from your team is committing a fraud and you want to get concrete evidence of that, you have legal grounds for more in-depth monitoring. However, if you simply want to keep an eye on your employees and decide not to tell them about it, you could face serious consequences. To avoid this, we strongly recommend that you notify your employees about the implementation of monitoring software and encourage them to keep private matters to their home PCs and personal smartphones.
  • Within working hours. Nowadays, when most teams have switched to a WFH mode, after-hours monitoring poses quite a problem. It’s not uncommon for the employees to use company-provided laptops for personal matters after they’re done for the day. And when it comes to any type of monitoring software, there’s always the risk of recording sensitive personal data. Our advice is to either ban your employees from using company-owned laptops for personal affairs or to allow them to turn off monitoring when they stop working for the day.

For example, Kickidler employee monitoring software allows specialists themselves to turn off monitoring once they’re done with work for the day. This option will make your employees more relaxed about the monitoring since they’ll have more control over it.

  • Reasonable. Ethical employee monitoring isn’t just about collecting the data, it’s also about having purpose for such supervision. If you decide to use employee monitoring software purely for the sake of using it or, even worse, for spying on your personnel, it’s not going to end well. If you actually want to get the most out of employee monitoring, you need to have clear understanding of the reasons behind it, the type of data you’ll be collecting and the performance targets you want your employees to achieve. For example, if you’re using employee monitoring software to increase your team productivity, you can start by tracking how productive they are on a daily basis (by the way, Kickidler calculates this metric automatically. Once you have that information, analyze what causes the productivity to go down. Do your employees spend too much time in various meetings? Or perhaps they spend too much time on social media? Pinpoint the exact issues that cause bottlenecks and deal with them by talking to your employees and minimizing the distractions.

Importance of conveying the need for employee monitoring

If you decide to introduce employee monitoring in your company, you should also help your employees understand why you’ve made this decision. We suggest you inform your team that you’ll be monitoring them for professional purposes only and strictly during working hours. We also strongly advise you to be as transparent as possible about the monitoring from the very beginning.

Besides, an Accenture survey found that 92% of employees are actually willing to have their data collected as long as it’s used to boost their own well-being and performance. One way to get your team on board with the monitoring is to share with them how the accumulated data will be used and how it will actually be beneficial for everybody in the long run – for example, in balancing workloads, avoiding burnout or improving your performance (e.g., Kickidler’s Autokick enables employees to view their personal statistics and compare them with previous reports).  

Overall, it is possible to monitor your employees ethically – everything is in your hands. And with the help of Kickidler employee monitoring software this process won’t be just automated, it’ll also bring great value to the company.

How to virtually onboard new employees in 2021

Boomer Consulting, Inc. has been an entirely virtual company for quite a while now, so working and collaborating remotely hasn’t been a challenge during the pandemic. What IS new to our team in the past few months is virtually onboarding new team members.

In the past, we would fly new hires to Kansas City for a few days of in-person onboarding and training at our Accounting Innovation Center. That wasn’t feasible – or advisable – when our newest employee started in May of last year. Fortunately, we were able to take what we’d learned from years of working with coworkers, clients, and vendors across the country and apply it to the onboarding process.

Here are some of the best practices we’ve learned that can help the process go smoothly for your firm.

Ship technology in advance of the start date

When we hired our newest Solutions Advisor in May, we had a pretty quick turnaround from when he accepted the offer until his start date, but we wanted to ensure that he had everything he needed to hit the ground running on day one. We rushed to order and ship his laptop and other equipment so it would arrive a couple of days before his first official day on the job.

On day one of onboarding, our new team member met virtually with our Technology Business Analyst to ensure he had all of the equipment he needed and could connect to the cloud resources. Some firms we work with schedule 30 minutes or so a few days ahead of the new employee’s start date for the same purpose. Either way, this ensures your new team member isn’t sitting there on day one, waiting for equipment to be delivered or struggling to connect.

Video conferencing

The Boomer Consulting team has encouraged firms to leverage video conferencing tools for years, and the ones who did were much more prepared for working in 2020 than those who still relied heavily on traditional conference calls.

You simply cannot successfully onboard a new employee without video conferencing. The first few days and weeks at a new job are a critical time for establishing personal connections for new hires. Video conferencing is the best way to meet with someone virtually and still get that “face to face” feel.

During our new team members’ first days, we scheduled all of his meetings on Zoom. We also planned in break times but had someone available via Zoom even during his breaks, so if he wanted to ask a question, someone was there. It was also extra time to get to know him and allow him to know us.

Schedule the first week

When everyone works from the same physical space, the schedule for a new employee’s first week on the job can be a bit fluid. However, we recommend scheduling times for all aspects of the onboarding and training process in their first week when you’re onboarding someone virtually. This ensures the people they need to meet with are available, and your new team member isn’t left waiting and wondering what they’re supposed to be doing for long periods.

Schedule a meeting with HR to review paperwork and get them enrolled in benefits. We learned that this aspect of onboarding takes longer than we originally thought. We’d initially scheduled only 30 minutes but really needed an hour and a half!

Schedule time with their supervisor and training with other team members they’ll be working with. It’s a good idea to bring in several people, so they’re not seeing and talking to the same person day in and day out.

Schedule time with someone higher up – the Managing Partner, President, or CEO. This helps establish an “open door policy” and shows your new team member that nobody in the firm is off-limits to talk to if they have a question or need help.

Onboard for success

One of our favorite onboarding sessions that we use both in-person and virtually is “Onboarding for Success.” This is an extended meeting – up to three or four hours – where our new employee meets with a cross-functional team of shareholders, sales team members, project managers, technology and marketing team members. During this session, our team talks about what success looks like in our company from different perspectives.

What is our CEO’s view of success? How about the sales team and project managers? Based on these conversations, we work with our new employees to develop their goals for the first 90 days on the job.

Assign a buddy and a mentor

At Boomer Consulting, everyone has regular one-on-ones with their managers, but we also assign buddies and mentors for every team member. A buddy is someone who is not in your department. They help the new employee learn about company culture and support them in figuring out how we do things.

A mentor is in your department, but not your supervisor. This is a peer the new employee can bounce ideas off of and someone who will help them grow into their position. The employee has regular meetings with their buddy and mentor. That might seem like a lot of meetings, but it helps our remote team establish relationships across departments and provides a foundation of colleagues they can call on throughout their time with the company.

Virtual onboarding can be a challenge the first time. For your new team member, the barrage of information coming at them in the early days can feel like drinking through a firehose, so it’s important to take a “pulse check” after they’ve been on the job for a few weeks. This gives them time to ask questions that have come up since or clarify something they might have missed the first time around.

It can also help your team get better at virtual onboarding by learning what your new team members might need more of. Don’t worry if your first virtual onboarding experience is a little rough. You’ll learn something new every time,