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Updated Mar 27, 2024

The Best Employee Monitoring Software for 2024

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Skye Schooley, Business Operations Insider and Senior Lead Analyst
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This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.
Best for Security Threat Protection
  • Live screen view and playback
  • Remote control of employee devices
  • Violation-triggered recording
Visit Site
Links to Teramind
  • Live screen view and playback
  • Remote control of employee devices
  • Violation-triggered recording
Best for Analytics
  • Free and paid plans
  • Workforce analytics and insights
  • 14-day free trial
Visit Site
Links to ActivTrak
  • Free and paid plans
  • Workforce analytics and insights
  • 14-day free trial
Best for Employee Management
BambooHR Employee Monitoring Software
BambooHR company logo
  • Complete HR software solution
  • Mobile app
  • Payroll, onboarding and hiring
Links to BambooHR Employee Monitoring Software
  • Complete HR software solution
  • Mobile app
  • Payroll, onboarding and hiring
Best for Managing Productivity
Hubstaff
Hubstaff company logo
  • Mouse and keyboard tracking
  • Wide OS compatibility
  • One free employee device
Links to Hubstaff
  • Mouse and keyboard tracking
  • Wide OS compatibility
  • One free employee device
Best for Small Businesses on a Budget
SentryPC
SentryPC employee monitoring logo
  • No minimum user requirements
  • IP, keylogging and app tracking
  • Scalable payment structure
Links to SentryPC
  • No minimum user requirements
  • IP, keylogging and app tracking
  • Scalable payment structure

Table of Contents

Open row

What is Employee Monitoring Software?

Employee monitoring software enables supervisors to keep tabs on employee activity, including web content they access, files they download and upload, and external devices they plug into company hardware. Employee monitoring software can be used for local or remote employees and many offer versions that can be used to track independent contractor activity when they’re working on company projects. More than just an employee productivity tracker, most platforms also serve as a security tool, helping to protect a business’s sensitive data and network integrity.

Why You Should Trust Us

At Business News Daily, our team of small business experts regularly evaluates hundreds of products and services that are essential to business operations. To determine the best employee monitoring software, we scoured the market and narrowed down our list of recommendations after in-depth, hands-on investigations that considered cost, features and ease of use, among other criteria. All evaluations were conducted with accuracy and fairness at top of mind. Learn more about our methodology.

  • With remote work increasingly the norm rather than the exception, keeping tabs on employee productivity and efficiency is more difficult – yet more important – than ever.
  • A number of companies now offer packages that monitor everything from keystrokes to external drive access, generating live and prescheduled reports.
  • While these packages might seem broadly similar on paper, there are marked differences in day-to-day use, with some better suited to specific tasks than others.
  • This guide is for business owners, directors and HR managers who want to learn the differences between the best employee monitoring software tools.

Employee monitoring software gives small business owners and managers invaluable insights into how employees spend their time at work. The best employee monitoring software can track web browsing and application use, block content and applications, capture screenshots of user activity, and provide insightful reports.

To help you find the best solution for your business, we’ve reviewed the best software applications on the market in 2024. In doing so, we considered affordability, ease of use and the features that help you monitor employee activity, productivity and cybersecurity.

Did You Know?Did you know

We think of employee monitoring as a modern phenomenon, but Henry Ford was an early adopter of its principles over a century ago.

Compare Our Best Picks

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Our Top Picks for 2024
Teramind
ActivTrak
BambooHR Employee Monitoring Software
Hubstaff
SentryPC
InterGuard
Veriato
Controlio
Insightful
Rating9.3/109.2/107.9/107.9/108.5/109.2/109.2/107.9/107.7/10
Best for

Security threat protection

Workforce analytics

Performance management

Time tracking

Affordability

Remote workforces

Larger organizations

Video monitoring

Employee privacy

Free plan

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

Free trial

7-14 days

14 days

7 days

14 days

Demo only

7 days

7 days

14 days

14 days

User minimum

5

1 or 5

None

2 for paid plans

1

5

5

5 for SMB cloud; 10 for on-premises; 100 for enterprise private cloud

1 for cloud; 250 for on-premises data storage

Pricing

$11.25-$35 per seat per month; custom rates for Enterprise users

$0-$17 per user per month; custom rates for Enterprise users

$4.95-$8.25 per employee per month (custom rates available)

$0-$25 per user per month

$9.99-$69.95 per license per year

$25 per user per month or $179 per user per year; custom rates for Enterprise users

$25 per user per month or $179 per user per year; custom rates also available

$7.99 per user per month, or $79.90 per user per year; custom rates for On-Premises and Private Cloud users

$6.40-$15 per user per month; custom rates for Enterprise users

Software plans

4

4 (add-ons available)

2 (add-ons available)

4

6

2

3

3

4

Contract length

Monthly and annual

Annual

Monthly

Monthly and annual

Annual

Monthly, annual, 2-year, 3-year, and 5-year plans

Monthly and annual

Monthly and annual

Monthly and annual

Hosting options

Cloud and on-premises

Cloud

Cloud

Global

Cloud

Cloud

Cloud and on-premises

Cloud and on-premises

Cloud and on-premises

Compatible operating systems

Windows, Windows Server, Mac, Citrix, VDI, VMware Horizon, terminal servers

Windows, Mac, Chrome

Windows, Mac, Android, iOS

Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome, Android, iOS

Windows, Mac

Windows, Mac, terminal servers (VMWare Citrix), Chromebook, iOS, Android

Windows, Mac, terminal servers (VMWare Citrix), Chromebook, iOS, Android

Windows, Mac

Windows, Mac

Keystroke logging

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Silent or visible

Both

Both

None

Visible

Silent

Both

Both

Both

Both

Customer support

Phone, email, webchat

Phone, email, webchat

Phone, email, webchat

Online ticket, webchat

Online ticket

Phone, webchat

Online ticket, phone

Phone, email, webchat

Phone, webchat

Review Link
Scroll Table

Our Reviews

Teramind: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Security Threat Protection

  • Teramind has a live screen view and history playback, which can record employees’ screens only when violations occur.
  • You can control employee devices remotely and manually override user accounts, which is great for security-focused industries.
  • Teramind requires at least five seats.
Editor's Rating: 9.3/10
Visit Site

Teramind is extremely secure software that can be deployed in an office or remotely through the cloud. It can monitor Windows, Windows Server, Mac, Citrix, VDI, VMware Horizon and terminal servers, and it’s our choice for firms or industries where security is paramount.

Each of Teramind’s three plans contain features to satisfy specific tracking needs. The Starter plan is the most basic option, suitable for standard monitoring. The User Activity Monitoring (UAM) plan is for businesses that need more comprehensive monitoring features, while the Data Loss Prevention (DLP) plan combines the features of the UAM plan with additional security.

Teramind can track employee behavior like website and application usage, email activity, online meetings, file transfers, web chats, social media activity, keystrokes, clipboard functions, and print jobs. You can block employees from engaging in certain activities and record their device activity on video and audio. It’s also possible to record only when violations occur, giving employers the option to build in some semblance of user privacy, a unique feature to Teramind that we particularly liked. Unlike many competitors, Teramind also gives you the ability to remotely control employee devices, which can be beneficial if you need to override an employee’s access to secure company information.

You can also access a plethora of reports, real-time alerts and policy management functions. If you want to test out the software before committing, you can take advantage of Teramind’s free live demo, which shows you around the system with sample employee data. Customer support is available by phone, email and live chat.

ActivTrak: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Analytics

  • ActivTrak offers free and paid plans, and up to three employees can be monitored free of charge, making it ideal for startups.
  • ActivTrak can distinguish between productive and unproductive behavior as well as active and passive behavior.
  • Keystroke logging is not available with ActivTrak.
Editor's Rating: 9.2/10
Visit Site

ActivTrak has all the features necessary to monitor your employees in a transparent way. For example, you can use the software to track not only how many hours employees work, but how engaged they are. ActivTrak can track how much time your employees engage in productive versus unproductive behavior and active versus passive (idle) behavior through mouse movements, keyboard activity (though not keystroke logging), and website and application usage. With workforce planning capabilities like the ActivTrak Headcount Planning dashboard, Workforce Capacity features and Impact Analysis tools, you can conveniently view metrics to rebalance employee workloads and resources and determine if staffing changes are successful. If you want to learn which locations your employees are most productive in (e.g., office vs. remote), then you can use ActivTrak’s Location Insights dashboard. This new tool shows you employee productivity broken down by user, location, time of day, and each week. The location data it provides can help you make informed staffing policies and determine office space requirements.

The software shows employee analytics like productivity, work efficiency, workload balance and tech usage. You can break these stats down by teams or individual users to identify top performers. Comparisons also help you identify which employees or teams have low levels of productivity or efficiency and may need help. Identifying key features like employee burnout addresses workload inefficiencies while improving employee engagement. With ActivTrak’s new integration with Google Workspace apps (e.g., Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sheets and Slides), employees can view their own metrics on things like their average focus time, top attention-shift apps, days overworked, and more. Since ActivTrak also now has a calendar integration for Outlook and Google Calendar, employees get an accurate look at their digital and in-person activity. This data can help employees make informed decisions on how to break up their day best to increase productivity. If you are concerned about employees falling short of their goals, the ActivTrak Coach feature lets managers get at-a-glance highlights on pertinent negative employee activity trends like productivity decline, low utilization and high passive time. This data helps managers make informed decisions on how to best assist their employees.

BambooHR Employee Monitoring Software: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Employee Management

BambooHR Employee Monitoring Software
BambooHR company logo
  • BambooHR has a mobile app with employee self-service features, making it the best overall employee management platform in our review.
  • In addition to monitoring employees, BambooHR can support payroll, onboarding and hiring.
  • It can’t log keystrokes or block applications.
Editor's Rating: 7.9/10

BambooHR is cloud-based HR software that can be used for employee performance management. It’s not traditional employee monitoring software, but rather a comprehensive HR solution with various features to help small businesses hire and onboard employees, manage employee performance, track employee hours, administer employee benefits and run payroll. BambooHR has two paid plans (Essentials and Advantage), which both offer a seven-day free trial and no cancellation fees, that are charged on a per-employee basis with month-to-month agreements. There are add-on capabilities for payroll (with payroll permissions), time tracking (with group settings), performance management, and employee benefits administration. We like that the platform simplifies each of these processes, such as permitting users to add URLs to benefit plans, and accessing e-signatures and automated email notifications during benefits enrollment.

BambooHR’s software is intuitive and easy to use across desktop and mobile devices. Employees can access self-service capabilities with the mobile app, such as managing their time off, selecting and managing their employee benefits, completing on-the-go performance assessments, viewing company calendars, and accessing employee directories and organization charts with full reporting lines. Managers can access a variety of mobile functions as well, such as performance assessments, training management and approvals. For added security when using the platform, BambooHR offers two-step login authentication as well. If you have questions or issues with the software, you can easily connect with a support representative by phone, email or web chat.

The Essentials and Advantage plans both include standard HR features to help you manage your team, such as employee records, benefits tracking and enrollment, workflows and approvals, document storage, reporting, and email alerts.

Businesses looking for software that can also help with hiring and onboarding will want the Advantage plan’s applicant tracking system, onboarding and offboarding features, e-signature capabilities, audit trails, and training tracking. To further streamline this onboarding process, new hires can now mark their own training items as complete within the platform to track their training status. The Employee Net Promoter Score system is great for identifying employee engagement and opportunities for improvement.

Hubstaff: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Managing Productivity

Hubstaff
Hubstaff company logo
  • Hubstaff tracks activity rates based on mouse and keyboard usage, giving granular insights into employee productivity.
  • It works on all platforms, including Windows and Linux, and on iOS and Android devices.
  • It doesn’t log keystrokes or track files or print jobs.
Editor's Rating: 7.9/10

Hubstaff is our choice as the best monitoring software for employee productivity management. It can be difficult to know how productive every employee is, especially remote workers. To alleviate this problem, Hubstaff has non-invasive features that allow you to accurately track employee time and user activity, improving your team’s overall productivity.

Hubstaff is flexible software capable of supporting various industries, devices and worker types, including remote workers, freelancers and field service personnel. Hubstaff supports Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome, as well as iOS and Android devices. There’s a free plan, three affordable paid plans, and a customized enterprise plan, making it a viable option for businesses of all sizes. All paid plans have a two-user minimum, and you can test the software during a 14-day free trial; there is also a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can cancel, upgrade or downgrade your plan at any time.

Hubstaff focuses on tracking employee time and improving productivity, while maintaining employee privacy. It uses mouse and keyboard activity levels to gauge how active your employees are; instead of tracking the exact information they type (keylogging), Hubstaff assigns a true or false value to the activity to indicate productivity. It can take screenshots at regular intervals, but employees can delete screenshots containing sensitive information (e.g., banking information or medical details).

SentryPC: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Small Businesses on a Budget

SentryPC
SentryPC employee monitoring logo
  • Top features include location IP logging, keystroke logging and app tracking.
  • The payment structure is easily scalable for businesses on a budget, with numerous plans and the ability to add individual device licenses.
  • Customer support can be reached only by completing an online form.
Editor's Rating: 8.5/10

SentryPC offers several affordable plans for its cloud-hosted monitoring software to fit even the tightest budgets. A Basic plan starts at just $69.95 per year for one license with the option to add on additional licenses for $29.95 each. It has an array of plan sizes, with the largest plan permitting 1,000 licenses for $9,995 per year – that’s less than $10 per license per year. Even its inexpensive plans include everything you need to monitor your team successfully. You can view an online demo of the software before purchasing, which lets you browse sample data and reports to get a feel for the software.

SentryPC can be used to track Windows and Mac devices, and they recently released compatibility for Android devices as well. After you install the SentryPC software on the devices you want to monitor, you can view the tracking data from any device with web access. You can track employees’ activity, such as mouse movements and clicks, and keyboard presses. You can also track when they log in and out each day, what they download or print, when they change or reset passwords, and when they install and uninstall applications. For each of these events, the software logs the activity details and the associated IP address, and it includes a time stamp.

You can set maximum employee hours and track employee behavior such as the websites and applications they use, the programs they access, the games they play, and their keystrokes. If you’re interested in tracking employee location, you can set geofences for any user; this allows you to track when an employee’s computer enters or exits a virtually fenced-in area. You can also take screenshots of user activity, while Windows devices can record even more actions, like file activity, chats, and portable drive usage.

This monitoring software allows extensive content filters. You can set restrictions on certain apps, websites, games, chats and keywords for each employee. You can block or allow these activities as needed, and you’ll receive an alert when an employee tries to access a blocked activity. If you need assistance with SentryPC, you can contact customer support, but only through an online inquiry.

InterGuard: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Remote Workers

InterGuard
Interguard company logo
  • InterGuard can monitor mobile devices, which is perfect for businesses that rely on smartphones.
  • Data loss prevention technology can lock down devices and peripherals, retrieve corporate data, and block email activity.
  • It works better for remote employees than in-office staff.
Editor's Rating: 9.2/10

InterGuard has many tracking and security features that are ideal for keeping a (virtual) eye on employees from afar, ensuring they’re productive and safe. It can be deployed on Windows, Mac, terminal servers, Chromebooks, and iOS and Android devices, giving unique pan-device coverage.

InterGuard offers cloud-hosted software for larger organizations. Annual and monthly plans are available. The software is great at tracking when employees are online and active, when they log on and off, when they are on break, and how much of their day is spent being active versus idle. You can even use geolocation to track field service workers.

InterGuard can monitor website and application usage, social media activity, email, programs, files, chats, print jobs, and keystrokes. You can block employees from unproductive or harmful websites and applications, and program the software to send you alerts when suspicious activity occurs. These security measures make it great for remote workforces. In addition to the standard monitoring features, you can access InterGuard’s data loss prevention software, which has endpoint lockdown and data retrieval features. That means you can instantly retrieve company data and lock down a device if an employee leaves the company. You can also block and report email and USB activity.

The software dashboard is intuitive, with six different view types (chart, user, alert log, data, reports and notifications, and search) to accommodate different types of users.

Veriato: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Employee Retention

Veriato
Veriato company logo
  • The software has insider threat detection capabilities.
  • Volume discounts are available, which can cut down on the cost for large businesses.
  • Veriato’s employee monitoring software can be complex to learn.
Editor's Rating: 9.2/10

Veriato is comprehensive employee monitoring and insider threat detection software for Macs, PCs and Android devices. Its advanced capabilities are especially useful for large enterprises that want complete insight into employee behavior. For example, Veriato helps you track workplace productivity, detect insider threats, conduct employee and forensic investigations, maintain legal compliance, and prevent data loss.

Veriato has three employee monitoring plans: Cerebral, Vision and custom plans for large organizations. The plans vary in hosting method (cloud or on-premises), the target size of business (small, midsize or large), and features (employee monitoring and insider threat detection). Pricing varies as well, so contact a Veriato representative for a custom quote.

Veriato has a learning curve, as there are a lot of monitoring features and capabilities. You can track user activity and status for both in-office and remote workers, including document and network activities. You can monitor employee behavior through the applications they use, the websites they visit, the searches they run and the emails they send.

Crucially, Veriato offers employee disengagement analysis to determine how engaged your employees are. This can support focused mentoring, retraining or engagement by managers, preemptively reducing the risk of resignation and the costs of recruitment.

You can block specific URLs and filter websites, take screenshots, and log employee keystrokes. Additional insider threat detection features include risk scoring, user and entity behavior analytics, and printing and USB device usage. Veriato offers a variety of helpful security alerts for anomalies, policy violations and specific keywords.

Controlio: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Video Recording

Controlio
Controlio company logo
  • Even Controlio’s basic package offers six months of data storage, while on-premises and AWS packages are unlimited.
  • Controlio supports individual monitoring profiles for specific employees, providing granular real-time insights.
  • Controlio only covers PCs.
Editor's Rating: 7.9/10

Controlio offers cloud-based and on-premises employee monitoring software that tracks and records employees’ PC activity in real time. Smaller businesses are typically better suited for the cloud option, whereas larger organizations can choose between on-premises and AWS cloud options.

Controlio is easy to implement and access. All it requires is a one-time software installation on the PC you want to track, and then you can view that PC’s activity from any device. Since the data is stored in the cloud, you can view activity from the web-based dashboard no matter where you are. This is ideal for managers who need to check in on employee behavior when they are away from the office. Controlio lets you create individual monitoring profiles so that you can see an employee’s entire activity in one organized location. You can use Controlio in stealth or tray icon mode, giving you full control over how you monitor employees.

One of Controlio’s best features is its ability to track screen activity in real time. If you want to review past activity, you can watch previously recorded video footage of an employee’s computer behavior as well. The software also offers keylogging in case you need further visibility into employee activity.

Controlio can track employee attendance, monitor web and application usage, store up to six months of data (unlimited storage for the on-premises and AWS cloud plans), record file usage, and generate productivity scores. You can set web filters so that employees don’t access unproductive or risky websites, and establish behavior rules and alerts for when an employee attempts an unacceptable action.

Insightful: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Employee Privacy

Insightful
Insightful company logo
  • Insightful can run in visible or stealth mode on company devices but is always visible on employees’ own devices, making this the optimal choice for employee privacy.
  • Prices and packages are tailored to your business’s circumstances.
  • Only the Enterprise accounts offer 24/7 phone support.
Editor's Rating: 7.7/10

The recently rebranded Insightful is an ideal monitoring solution for employers that want to track their employees’ activity while retaining employee privacy and giving staff control over what’s recorded. It can support office employees, remote workers and enterprises. Every Insightful account includes two-factor authentication, an API and live support. Enterprise accounts can also include features like on-premises deployment, role-based access, audit logs and dedicated account managers.

Because Insightful has both visible and stealth modes, you can use it to monitor company- and employee-owned Mac and Windows devices. The software runs in visible mode on employee-owned devices, meaning the employee clocks in and out to run it. On company-owned devices, you have the choice between stealth mode (the software runs invisibly in the background) and visible mode, the latter of which gives employees more control over exposure of their data.

You can contact an Insightful representative for a custom quote on enterprise accounts. It offers monthly and yearly time-tracking plans and automatic time-mapping plans, with the ability to add on features like second-by-second raw data, manual screenshots, higher screenshot limits and alerts.

Insightful has standard features like real-time activity monitoring, productivity tracking, and app and website monitoring. It streamlines this type of monitoring by offering organization-level productivity labeling – a tool that allows administrators to assign activities as productive or unproductive in bulk. Team managers can also handle productivity labeling on a smaller scale if needed. These features are great for ensuring your employees are on task and productive.

Employee Monitoring Software Costs

Pricing for employee monitoring solutions varies according to the features you need and how many employees you have. For example, a startup that needs basic features and has one or two employees may be able to use a free option, whereas businesses that need top-shelf features may pay up to $150 per user per year. On average, however, you can expect to pay between $60 to $80 per user per year. 

Pricing is usually calculated on a per-user basis and billed either monthly or annually. This includes the software, updates and tech support. Some vendors charge a one-time licensing fee and then bill separately for annual software updates and support plans. 

When you’re comparing pricing, here are four factors you need to look for to ensure the bill isn’t an unwelcome surprise:

  • User minimums: Some companies allow you to buy just one or two licenses, but some require a minimum of five or 10.
  • Add-on features: If you want specific advanced features, such as geolocation, you may have to pay extra for them.
  • Extra fees: Additional fees aren’t common, but it’s important to look for them before you sign up so you know exactly which fees you’re agreeing to. Check for setup fees – which may be hundreds of dollars – and IP renewal fees.
  • Contract requirement: Many employee monitoring software providers offer month-to-month plans, and some offer a discount if you pay annually. As with any service, check if you have to sign a contract. If that’s the case, ask for a copy of the contract and review it, paying particular attention to the term length and the cancellation procedure. 
Key TakeawayKey takeaway

Employee monitoring software can be billed monthly or annually, ranging from free to $150 per user per year.

Employee Monitoring Software Features

Employee monitoring software may incorporate many features, and the ones you need depend on how you want to monitor your employees.

Consider your reasons for wanting to install this software. Do you want to make sure employees aren’t surfing the internet and scrolling through Facebook when they’re on the clock? Do you worry about confidential information or trade secrets being leaked? Are you looking for a way to monitor cybersecurity risks? You also need to decide if you’ll be actively using this software or if you need notifications when it detects prohibited activity and other policy violations.

  • Content blocking: There are obviously some types of websites your employees shouldn’t visit during working hours, or even at all when they’re using work-issued computers. The content blocking feature allows you to block those types of websites and individual URLs. Some software allows you to set time limits for certain sites and designate times when blocks are lifted, such as if you allow your employees to visit social media or shopping sites during their lunch breaks. Others allow you to set access permissions by individual or user group.
Did You Know?Did you know

It’s easy to give employees too much access to sensitive or confidential data, which can have damaging consequences.

  • App and website tracking: This feature shows you which applications your employees use – such as Microsoft Word or Excel – and the URLs of the websites they visit. It also records how much time they spend on each app, site or program.
  • Keylogging: With this feature, you can see every keystroke your employees make in emails, instant messages, Word documents or online.
  • Screenshots, video or live feed of monitors: Want to see what your employees are working on? Most employee monitoring solutions take random screenshots of employee monitors (and many support multiple screens). Some record video of monitored activity, and a few even offer a live view.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI): Many of the best employee monitoring software employ AI tools to automate some core functions of the system. AI can be used to assign productivity or quality assurance scores to employees based on how well they are performing in their roles, as well as flag cybersecurity threats like malicious software or potential theft of a company’s sensitive data. When using AI for employee monitoring, it’s important to make sure the tools are in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, as well as understand how they conform to existing company policies. You may consider informing employees about the use of these AI tools for employee monitoring and how the company intends to use the data they capture.
TipTip

Monitoring features like keylogging and screenshots can land you in hot water if you accidentally capture an employee’s private information (medical records or bank account numbers, for instance). To protect your business, establish a policy with your employees that there should be no expectation of privacy on company devices.

  • USB and print monitoring: If you’re worried about data leaks, these are must-have features. You’ll receive an alert if the software detects a thumb drive or portable hard drive being inserted into a company computer. Print monitoring means the software tracks the files that have been printed from each computer.
  • Productivity tracking: There are various ways to track employee productivity. For instance, some software tracks productivity by detecting keyboard and mouse activity. Others require employees to track their work time against tasks or client projects.
  • Mobile apps: If you travel or have employees working across multiple time zones, it’s convenient for the software to have a mobile app for alerts and anytime access. Some apps are platform-specific, however, so make sure the software is compatible with your phone if this feature is important to you.

Advantages of Employee Monitoring Software

Employee monitoring software offers several potential benefits to your business.

Employee Engagement and Attendance

Software monitoring features like website tracking, content filtering and screen capturing can provide insights about the content your employees are engaging with, including which websites and applications they spend most of their time on. Are they staying engaged with work-related websites, or are they getting distracted watching YouTube videos? You might even notice an employee is spending their day filling out job applications. With employee monitoring software, you can see (and block) the websites your employees use and discover any performance or engagement issues. 

Did You Know?Did you know

Communication and feedback are key to successfully rolling out and maintaining employee monitoring software. A 2005 study by Alder and Ambrose concluded that being monitored improves job satisfaction, provided employees receive positive feedback when they perform well.

Employee Productivity

Software monitoring features like keystroke logging, mouse activity tracking and webcam recording can show you how active your employees are on their work computers. Is their device idle for long periods, or are they actively engaging in work activity throughout the day? Although employee activity monitoring features vary by platform, it can be useful to have some idea of which employees are working at any given moment.

Company Security

Software monitoring can help with security and legal disputes as well. If you’ve recorded and archived employee behavior, it could help you back up a claim if an employee files a complaint against the company or a co-worker. Managing website permissions and monitoring USB usage and print jobs can help you prevent leaks of confidential data. Employees will be restricted from viewing malicious websites or behaving maliciously themselves. 

FYIDid you know

Network monitoring software can secure your entire network, instead of tracking individual devices only. This software allows you to track the functionality of all network components, such as firewalls and routers, to reduce or eliminate network downtime.

Choosing Employee Monitoring Software

Your choice of employee monitoring software will depend on various factors. We outline some of the key areas to consider below.

Devices

If your company uses PCs exclusively, you can choose any of the 10 packages we’ve reviewed. However, if your employees routinely work on mobile devices, it’s crucial to ensure your chosen platform offers both iOS and Android compatibility. Similarly, if employees often use USB sticks, check whether portable devices can be monitored and scanned. Some platforms are unable to monitor peripherals like printers and data keys.

Additional Services

In an attempt to differentiate their packages, some software providers have incorporated extra services, such as onboarding and offboarding tools, payroll and performance management, and COVID-19 vaccination tracking. This might be superfluous, but if you don’t already have software providing these services, it may be worth considering a package like BambooHR, which brings different HR tools under one roof. [We recently reviewed the best time and attendance software of 2024.]

Support and Assistance

While some of the best employee monitoring software providers offer a variety of ways to get in touch, others provide web support only. Some offer customer support 24/7, but others don’t. In fairness, this is rarely a sector where after-hours or overnight support is pivotal for maintaining productivity, but ensure you’re happy with the variety of support on offer – and when it’s accessible – before signing up.

Usability

Given the wealth of metrics tracked by the best employee monitoring software packages, it’s important to ensure that you’re not overwhelmed by the scope and scale of a particular platform. If Insightful’s second-by-second raw data generation or Veriato’s disengagement analytics are too granular, you might feel more comfortable with Hubstaff’s basic monitoring or InterGuard’s choice of six types of report views on its dashboard.

Cost

It would take a very detailed spreadsheet to outline all the plan options and costs associated with signing up for employee monitoring software. However, key areas to consider include how many employees are covered, whether you’re signing up for a month-to-month arrangement or an annual contract, if there is a free trial available, and whether you have to upgrade to a more expensive package to unlock certain features. The freemium model is commonly used, with the likes of ActivTrak offering free plans for a couple of users. Work Examiner offers decreasing fees per user, which will particularly appeal to businesses with 25 to 100 employees.

Employee Monitoring FAQs

Employee monitoring software is a cloud-based or on-premises solution that tracks and records employees’ computer behavior. This software shows business owners and managers how employees use their company computers or other work devices. For example, it can monitor the websites they visit and the applications they use, track their work hours, block harmful or unproductive websites and apps, and even record events as they occur on the screen. Employee monitoring software is commonly used to improve productivity, engagement and company security.

Remote work presents certain challenges for employees and managers, and employee monitoring software can alleviate certain issues surrounding attendance, productivity and security. When employees are in the office, a manager can easily take a stroll to get an idea of who is at work and what they are working on. Employee monitoring software gives managers a way to accomplish something similar remotely, by holding employees accountable for working when they say they are.

Working from home comes with a variety of distractions that aren’t as relevant at the office (child care, housework, errands, etc.), but not all employees will admit they’re having trouble focusing. Employee monitoring software can show you who is being productive and who needs extra guidance or assistance. It can also inform you what hours of the day work best for your team, and what technology they need to be productive.

A remote workforce brings additional security threats to your business. If an employee is accessing company information from an unsecured public Wi-Fi connection or using their company-owned device to access harmful content, your company is vulnerable to security breaches. Monitoring software helps to block harmful content and identify potentially high-risk remote employees.

This is often discretionary. Some states have limitations and requirements regarding this, but there are no current federal laws that require you to tell your employees if they’re being monitored. Either way, it’s usually a good idea to tell them, especially as getting employees on board with the software often achieves better results. For example, if the purpose of your monitoring software is to improve employee productivity, explain it that way. Your team is likely to work harder if they know their actions are being tracked and reviewed. This is also a good opportunity to discuss acceptable and unacceptable use of company devices, which can reduce the likelihood of harmful or unproductive activities taking place.

Help your staff to remain focused with our guide to distractions that damage workplace productivity.

Employee monitoring software can help supervisors stay on top of what their team members are doing on company time. It also enables the ability to filter web content, track location and prevent the download or upload of harmful software. It is simultaneously a productivity and cybersecurity tool that can ensure employee compliance with company policies.

The drawbacks of employee monitoring software include potential impacts to employee morale and company culture, as well as the legal and ethical considerations that go along with monitoring employee activity. Additionally, employee monitoring software can be costly and resource intensive to maintain, generally requiring IT staff to get the most out of it.

Many of the best employee monitoring software on our list offer a version for use with freelancers and independent contractors. These versions tend to be limited in their reach and often don’t include a stealth mode, as freelancers will have to agree to their use for time tracking and productivity monitoring. Additionally, freelancers generally use their own hardware, so there may be additional legal and ethical boundaries to consider when asking a 1099 worker to install and use employee monitoring software.

What to Expect in 2024

Employee monitoring software has become popular technology over recent years, and we expect the number of organizations using it to increase in the coming years. With a permanent switch to remote and hybrid work, and an increase in global employment, many employers will rely on monitoring software to track employee activity from various locations. Instead of tracking the specific hours each employee works, we anticipate more employers focusing on employee productivity. Monitoring features specifically geared toward productivity will be in high demand. For example, some software lets you label specific websites, apps, and activities as productive and unproductive.

In addition to tracking employee activity and ensuring each worker completes their projects, we expect employers to rely on monitoring software to track employee mental health and wellbeing. For example, through features that monitor if an employee is working too many hours, employee monitoring software can identify which employees are at risk of experiencing burnout. This type of workforce data allows you to address an employee or reallocate resources before it becomes a problem.

Although working outside the office is a popular trend, it poses several threats to employers in terms of security. We expect to see advances in monitoring tools that aid in cybersecurity protection for businesses. For example, content filtering and blocking, network monitoring, screenshotting, and cybersecurity alerts can help maintain employee safety and company security.

Perhaps one of the most anticipated trends in many facets of business is the inclusion of artificial intelligence (AI). We expect many employee monitoring solutions to implement the use of AI to help automate certain aspects such as cybersecurity, data analysis and performance support.

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Skye Schooley, Business Operations Insider and Senior Lead Analyst
Skye Schooley is a business expert with a passion for all things human resources and digital marketing. She's spent 10 years working with clients on employee recruitment and customer acquisition, ensuring companies and small business owners are equipped with the information they need to find the right talent and market their services. In recent years, Schooley has largely focused on analyzing HR software products and other human resources solutions to lead businesses to the right tools for managing personnel responsibilities and maintaining strong company cultures. Schooley, who holds a degree in business communications, excels at breaking down complex topics into reader-friendly guides and enjoys interviewing business consultants for new insights. Her work has appeared in a variety of formats, including long-form videos, YouTube Shorts and newsletter segments.
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