Email monitoring software is becoming more common, both for employers hoping to better understand the habits and workloads of their employees, and for ambitious professionals looking to improve their own performance. But with so many email platforms and email analytics tools to choose from, how are you supposed to take action?
In this guide, I’ll walk you through how to use Gmail or G Suite to monitor employee email, as well as how to monitor employee email in Outlook.
Why Use Employee Email Monitoring Software?
There are many sound motivations for using employee email monitoring software. Though each employee email monitoring tool is slightly different, they all have a similar purpose: helping you better understand metrics like how many emails your employees send per day, who those emails are going to, and how fast they respond to incoming messages – which can have a significant impact on sales performance.
These are just some of the advantages of studying those metrics:
- Evaluating and balancing employee workloads. When you study the email habits of your workers, you’ll quickly learn their responsibilities and where/how they spend their time on email. All other things being equal, an employee who sends and receives more emails per day will generally have a bigger workload than their counterpart. Once you discover this, you can redistribute responsibilities in a way that’s fairer, or more appropriate for the time constraints of your employees. Ultimately, that means a happier and more productive workforce.
- Identifying problematic clients (or internal contacts). After monitoring your employees’ activity, you may learn that some of your clients are more demanding than you thought; you might notice that one client sends far more emails to your employees than any other, despite paying the same amount for your services. In extreme cases, you may need to step in and ask for a more reasonable communication pattern, or for an additional management fee. Similarly, you may find that some employees send an excessive number of unnecessary emails; this is your chance to correct that behavior.
- Measuring employee performance. In one of the more straightforward applications, you can use employee email monitoring as a loose gauge of employee performance. While the sheer number of emails an employee sends may send mixed messages (i.e., it could be a sign of sending too many emails or a sign of doing lots of work), there are secondary metrics that can help you figure out how well an employee is doing. For example, you can look at email response time to determine how attentive an employee is, or judge their ability to communicate based on how long it takes them to write or read emails.
- Identifying strengths and weaknesses. With the right metrics, you can also gauge employee strengths and weaknesses, and use that information to help the team perform better overall. For example, you may find that one employee is an email master, capable of drafting emails at high speeds without compromising the content of the messages; you could then give this employee more responsibilities that cater to that strength, such as taking meeting notes and sending out recap emails to the team.
- Flagging suspicious activity. In rare cases, you may also be able to spot suspicious activity. For example, if one of your employees is frequently emailing with a contact from one of your competitors, it could be an indication of corporate espionage, or a sign that your employee is looking for a new job. You may also discover your employees using their work accounts for personal exchanges which can endanger your brand.
- Spotting patterns. Finally, you can use email monitoring to spot patterns in your employees’ email usage, which may help you develop the business or improve your performance in some way. For example, if you notice that email traffic tends to spike around 2 pm, you could avoid hosting meetings from 2-3 pm, to give employees time to address those emails reactively. If one day of the week seems consistently slow, you could use that day for professional development.
Email Monitoring Tools: How to Monitor Employee Gmail and G Suite Accounts
If you’re using Gmail or G Suite for business and you’re wondering how to monitor employee email in G Suite, specifically through Gmail, the best option available to you is – you may have already guessed it – our namesake tool, EmailAnalytics. Our tool is similar to Google Analytics, but designed for Gmail and G Suite. With it, you can monitor your own email activity, or the activities of your employees or team members—all in one platform.
Your high-level dashboard will show you how many emails you’ve sent or received, how many conversations you’ve engaged in, and other basic Gmail metrics.
It’s also helpful to view this data in a visual format:
You can use EmailAnalytics to study response times as well, indicating how long it takes an employee to respond to an email, on average, and how long they tend to wait for a response.
One of the most useful features in EmailAnalytics is its analysis of email threads. With this breakdown, you’ll be able to see how many email threads an employee engages in, including the average number of emails per thread, the average number of words per thread and per email in the thread, and other metrics.
This information can help you determine the length and effectiveness of your employees’ conversations, which you can use to clear up miscommunication points and obstacles to efficiency.
Finally, you can study the “average email” sent or received by an employee. For example, you can look at the average number of words in a sent or received email, the time it takes to write or read an email, or even the time of day or day of the week an email was sent.
How to Get Started
To start monitoring employee email using EmailAnalytics, sign up for a free trial. Next, on the left-side navigation, you’ll see “Teams” where you can click the “+” icon to create a new team. Add the email addresses of the employees you want to track, and they’ll be sent email invitations to join EmailAnalytics.
After they click the link in the email, they’ll be added to your team and you’ll be able to track them from your dashboard.
After signing up for the free trial, you can start monitoring employee emails in Gmail or G Suite immediately; your email data will populate into your dashboard immediately and automatically. From there, you can regularly check in and see how things are progressing, or you can schedule daily or weekly summaries to be sent to you via email with the metrics that matter to you.
The number-crunching all happens in the background, so your job is easy; just check out the visuals, make a high-level assessment of who could be spending time more efficiently, and come up with a strategy to improve your team’s weaknesses.
Email Monitoring Tools: How to Monitor Employee Email in Outlook
EmailAnalytics is a specialized tool for Gmail and G Suite (see our comparison of G Suite vs Gmail if you’re wondering about the differences), but what if your team uses Outlook?
Having been a long-time user of both platforms, I recommend Gmail because of its many advantages, including Gmail keyboard shortcuts which help boost productivity as well as the myriad Gmail apps, add-ons, and extensions that make Gmail better in so many ways.
If you’re looking for help switching from Outlook to Gmail; I’ve written a guide on how to do so in four easy steps (just click that link). But if you prefer to stick with Outlook, you do have options to monitor employee emails in Outlook directly.
For Outlook email monitoring, your best bet is probably Microsoft’s MyAnalytics, which will help you monitor your productivity in Outlook and across other Microsoft products.
Here, you’ll see metrics related to how you spend your time, including hours you spend emailing, in meetings, and focusing on other work. You’ll also see a breakdown of what percentage of emails have been read, and the average response time for received emails.
MyAnalytics also has a recommended list of contacts you haven’t engaged with in a while, so you can follow up and stay in touch. There’s also an opportunity to set goals, and measure your progress against those goals; for example, you might set a target to meet for fewer than 10 hours in the upcoming week, then look into the meetings that helped you meet that goal (or the ones that pulled you away from it).
MyAnalytics isn’t as robust as EmailAnalytics when it comes to email monitoring; you won’t have visibility into quite as many email-related metrics. However, it offers a succinct, high-level view of your employees’ email habits, and other work habits. If you’re committed to Outlook, it’s a solid platform to have in your toolkit.
How to Get Started
If you’re already a customer of Office 365 Enterprise E5, you already have access to MyAnalytics. Otherwise, you can sign up for $4 per user, per month. Integration only takes a few minutes. By the way, if you’re considering whether to go with G Suite or Office 365, we’ve got a thorough comparison of G Suite vs. Office 365 you should check out.
FAQs on Employee Monitoring Software
At this point, you may be left with some questions about how to integrate employee monitoring software, or the best way to use it on a regular basis.
These are some of the most common questions I see:
- Do I have to disclose that I’m using G Suite or Outlook to monitor employee email? Any kind of employee monitoring is tricky business. As long as your employee handbook explains the function and limitations of work-related emails and company devices, your employees should have no expectation of privacy when using company technology or communication channels. And for the most part, you aren’t legally required to disclose whether you monitor employee emails. However, telling your employees about your email monitoring plans is a good idea for many reasons. First, you’ll build trust, and will prevent the possibility of a morale meltdown if employees find out they’ve been monitored in secret. Second, you’ll be able to share key insights with your employees, so they can work to improve their performance. Finally, letting employees know you’ll be monitoring their email patterns may incentivize them to work more productively or respond faster than they usually would, which could boost performance across key business metrics.
- What email monitoring insights should I be looking for? There’s no “golden metric” for email productivity, since email effectiveness depends heavily on context; for example, sometimes a long email is overly wordy and unnecessary, but other times, it’s the best way to describe a complex problem. That said, you can use a combination of metrics like time spent writing emails, number of emails sent, and common contacts to get a clear idea of how each of your employees is emailing on a regular basis.
- How long does it take to set up? If you use Gmail or G Suite, then setting up email monitoring for your own email address is literally as easy as a couple mouse clicks (if you use EmailAnalytics). From there, setting up employee email monitoring for your employees is just a matter of making a few more mouse clicks. If you use Outlook, then it’s similarly easy. The integration process for email monitoring is fast, and shouldn’t prevent you from accomplishing any of your other goals.
Whether you want to monitor employee emails in Gmail or G Suite or stick to monitoring employee email in Outlook, there are options available to you. Putting them in place early, and using them to gauge your employees’ productivity will help you improve your team’s performance—and potentially spot small problems before they become big ones.
If you’re interested in giving EmailAnalytics a trial run, I encourage you to do it. Sign up for a free, 14-day trial right now, and get a feel for how the tool could improve how you manage your team.
Employee Monitoring Quick FAQ
Does an employer have the right to monitor employee email?
Yes, employers have this right as long as the monitored email address is provided by the employer. Only two states (Connecticut and Delaware) require employers to notify employees that their email is being monitored.
Can my employer see my Gmail emails?
Your employer cannot read your Gmail emails unless they have the login access to your Gmail account. However, it's inadvisable to use your personal Gmail while at work, or from a work computer, or while connected to the Internet via a work connection, as doing so could be monitored by your employer.
Can my boss read my emails without permission?
Yes, your boss has the right to read your emails as long as they were sent or received on an email account provided by your employer. The ability to do so, however, requires logging in to your account directly. As such, they would need to know your account username and password.
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before exiting it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.