Here’s a question that seems deceptively simple: What do your employees do all day?
Of course, you’d like to think that they’re cranking away on work-related tasks for the bulk of their office hours. But, do you really have a clear idea of what they’re accomplishing? Could you point to specific things that they’re checking off day in and day out? Could you easily tie those to-dos back to overarching business goals? Hmm...suddenly that opening question isn’t quite so straightforward.
This lack of transparency around what workers are accomplishing during their work day has led to increased use of employee time tracking apps among employers. What is project time tracking? It's a way of recording how your employees spend their working hours, ensuring they are properly compensated for their time, and that their workloads are manageable.
Does using an employee time tracking app really offer an advantage? And, if so, how can you successfully implement this technology within your organization? Here’s what you need to know.
Why are more companies choosing to time track?
If you want a better idea of what your employees are doing day in and day out, you’re not alone. More and more employers have instituted measures to get a grasp on this exact thing. In fact, more than 50% of the 239 large corporations surveyed by Gartner admit to using “nontraditional” monitoring techniques to gain insights into how employees are spending their time during work hours.
In May of 2019, the EU actually made the tracking of employee hours mandatory. This technology has continued to evolve in order to support a growing desire to understand employee productivity. Need proof? Just look at the tracking wristbands that Amazon patented in 2018 in order to monitor employees’ hands.
So, why is there an increased focus on figuring out where employee time is going? Well, the answer is pretty simple. As Hubstaff explains, time tracking can have numerous benefits.
These benefits include:
- Boosted productivity
- Increased profitability
- Greater transparency
- More realistic timeline planning
- Better project management
- Saving time
Advantages aside, some employers do have concerns that instituting time tracking will lead to a “big brother is always watching” type of work culture. However, 79% of respondents in a recent survey said that they believe it’s perfectly okay for employers to monitor their workplace-related tasks.
How can an employee time tracking app help productivity?
Working while a timer ticks away certainly instills a sense of urgency. But, when it comes to an increase in productivity related to time tracking, there’s more at play here.
1. Time tracking helps you understand distractions
Time tracking software will give you and your employees detailed reports of how time is spent. This is valuable information for spotting (and then addressing) things that repeatedly throw them off track — like unproductive meetings, constant interruptions, or unplanned tasks.
2. Time tracking helps you spot bloated processes
You’d like to think that every process on your team is streamlined, but you might be surprised by the amount of bottlenecks your employees run into. Through time tracking productivity, you can easily identify bloated workflows, frustrating roadblocks, and even rote tasks that should be automated.
3. Time tracking helps you find your golden hours
Maybe one of your team members is ready and raring to go as soon as they have their morning cup of coffee, while another hits their peak productivity levels in the final hours of the afternoon. Time tracking can help your workers find their productivity golden hours and manage their tasks and energy levels accordingly. For example, work that requires deeper focus can be reserved for when an employee knows they’re most focused.
Why time tracking is great for measuring profitability
You want time tracking to do more than just keep a watchful eye on your team members. You’re hoping that it can improve the bottom line of your business. Spoiler alert: it can.
1. Time tracking helps you spot high-value clients and projects
You want to work smarter, not necessarily harder. Having your team track their time will immediately highlight the projects and clients that offer the biggest payoff — as well as those that aren’t worth your team’s valuable time.
2. Time tracking helps you send more accurate bills
Invoicing for your team’s work can be a headache. Making guesses about how much time your team spent on a project also means you could potentially be leaving money on the table. By having your team track their work, you’ll have a detailed and accurate breakdown of how much time was invested in a client’s project — and be able to bill accordingly.
3. Time tracking helps prevent time theft
Aside from just measuring profitability, time tracking can actually help you boost it. That’s because this type of monitoring cuts down on time theft, which is a surprisingly pervasive problem. Time theft occurs when you’re paying an employee, but they aren’t actually working (maybe they’re making personal phone calls or taking an extra long lunch). Accountants say that 92% of their clients have a problem with time theft, and it reportedly costs US employers $11 billion each year.
How to implement employee time tracking
You want your own team to start time tracking, but you’re hesitant to make your employees feel as if you don’t trust them. Here are some tips to successfully roll out a time tracking program.
1. Start with a pilot group
Begin with a small group of employees who can test the time tracking software, provide feedback, and work out the initial kinks. With any initial hurdles out of the way, you’ll be much better prepared to launch this initiative across your entire team.
2. Explain the context and value
If you simply demand that employees start tracking their time without any sort of explanation, suspicion is bound to spread. Instead, start with a candid conversation and highlight the goals and benefits. Providing some context for why this change is being introduced can help employees embrace a new time tracking initiative.
3. Find the right tools
When it comes to finding the best employee time tracker app, you need to look for something that’s intuitive to use. If it’s too clunky or cumbersome, people simply won’t use it. Be prepared to try out a few options (and collect feedback from your pilot group) before making a final decision.
4. Create ground rules
Your time tracking software will require some initial setup and continual upkeep. Establish some ground rules for who should create tasks that people assign their time to. If you leave that open-ended, you’ll wind up with inconsistent and unhelpful reporting.
5. Keep the discussion open
Tracking time is going to be a change for your employees, and there’s bound to be some questions and criticisms as you move forward. Keep the conversation open so people can continue to offer feedback. This is a learning experience, and you need to prove that you’re all in it together.
Is employee time tracking really all it’s cracked up to be?
Introducing a time tracking solution into your team workflow can offer numerous benefits, including greater productivity, increased profitability, greater transparency, more realistic timelines, and better project management. However, you’ll only reap those rewards if you do time tracking right.
Use this as your guide and you’re well on your way to making the most of your team’s time — rather than viewing the clock as the enemy.