You should put Productivity Monitoring Software in the bin. Here’s why…

July 24, 2023
Clown in bin

Many businesses are taking up the use of employee monitoring software to gain insights into how their workforce operates, particularly with a hybrid or full time work-from-home team.

The arguments for using these programs range from ‘increasing productivity by using data to manage tasks’ to ‘making sure employees aren’t being overworked’, and everything in between. There are also plenty around with the mindset that employees working from home might not be working the hours they should or spending too much time on social media.

But do these programs really improve productivity?

Productivity monitoring software companies claim to indicate whether employees are performing and productive by assessing employees’ computer-based activity with a bunch of different metrics. But what level of keystrokes, hours spent active or emails a person sends in a day determines high or low performance in your business? Yeah, that’s the kicker…

Your employee could send 600 emails with 0 sales, 0 deliverables produced, and a 0 customer satisfaction rating. That’s some big fat zeros on the metrics that really matter… but your monitoring software might list the day as productive. 

And thus, the key: performance is a metric not necessarily related to computer activity. 

There are so many work-adjacent tasks like in-person meetings, deep thinking & planning, and phone conversations with coworkers that can’t be measured by this kind of software.

Performance is far more nuanced than computer activity or keystrokes. It’s different for every business and every role within that business, but the broad key indicators of performance are effectiveness, efficiency and improvement. There are dozens of factors to measure when in each of these areas, but broadly we can ask:

  • Does the employee produce what they’re supposed to produce (are they effective)?
  • Does the employee use resources well (are they efficient)?
  • Does the employee take actions to improve themselves and their environment (are they learning and improving)?

There is another major issue with this type of monitoring (actually there are many, but we don’t have the time to list them all…), in that it can obliterate any semblance of trust with employees. There have been numerous surveys into how these programs make employees feel, with the overwhelming majority having concerns that their employers are spying on them, their contributions won’t be recognised outside of the data collected, or that the monitoring will be used to punish them.

Alongside the lack of trust that workplace surveillance can create, businesses that focus exclusively on user activity reports for tracking productivity will force their workers to alter the way they normally perform their job… or not perform their job at all – have you seen those videos of PC mice tied to Roombas?

So, to reiterate – put that monitoring software in the bin where it belongs. If your business has a problem with performance and productivity, monitoring software will do sweet f-all to change it. Because staff not being constantly active during working hours isn’t the cause, it’s just a symptom of a deeper, more cultural issue. Instead of worrying about whether staff are on social media or sending enough emails, management must focus on WHY staff are underperforming and not delivering. From there the real issues can be addressed. 

We often trace cultural issues waaaay back to the hiring process – not having the right people, in the right positions, with the right skills, led by the right managers, in the right teams. That’s where TMR Recruitment comes in, we’ve been working with top organisations for nearly 30 years to source and retain top talent that seamlessly fit their cultural needs. If you’re looking for your next crew of high-achievers, get in touch!


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