If you want to get employees to track time, follow these 4 steps — it will help you engage employees with your time-tracking idea.
Step 1 – Communicate the Value of Time Tracking
Before you request that your employees track time, it’s essential to explain the value of it — not just for the company but also for them.
You can hold a team meeting to discuss the benefits of time management and time tracking. Remember that honesty is the best policy. Don’t beat around the bush, and be fully transparent when explaining the reasons behind the decision to start tracking time.
To help you, we developed a list outlining the positive aspects of time tracking. With these tips, you’ll be able to properly communicate the value of time tracking and motivate employees to get on board with the idea.
Explain to Your Employees Why Time Tracking Is Important
Being transparent and upfront with your employees about the need and importance of time tracking is an essential first step toward motivating them to genuinely track time.
Some benefits that you can mention include the following:
- Time tracking increases productivity and work efficacy – Time-tracking tools and apps give employees and managers more accurate insights into the time needed for completing individual tasks and other work activities. This information gives managers more realistic expectations and the ability to analyze and streamline work processes. This allows them to help employees become more productive and efficient without overstuffing their work schedule.
- Time tracking creates more accurate estimates of costs, budget, and time – This perk applies to all businesses, but it’s crucial for companies that rely on project-based work where the quality and accuracy of time estimates can significantly affect the profits. Data from time-tracking apps can greatly impact the veracity of various estimates, including budget and cost estimates.
- Time tracking increases transparency with clients and billing accuracy – Time tracking can help increase transparency when dealing with clients. It ensures that they’re billed correctly for the provided services by allowing you to automatically track all billable hours and turn the data into time reports or invoices.
Step 2 – Address Employee Concerns
Before implementing a specific time-tracking solution into your business, consider and address your employees' concerns. And the best way to learn about those concerns is to hold a team meeting where you’ll give employees space to express their thoughts.
Keep in mind that some employees might be apprehensive about sharing their honest views and opinions with their superiors. This could come down to many factors, from work culture to personal traits. The way you can work around it is to have an anonymous survey about time tracking and then discuss the results of that survey during a team meeting.
Here are a couple of things to consider and mention during the meeting.
- Explain to your employees that you won’t use the time-tracking solution to spy on them or micromanage them.
- Be clear about your goals regarding time tracking. Whether the tool is implemented to improve project management, workflows, or there’s another reason, it's essential to convey that you’re all on the same side, working toward the same goals.
- Emphasize that accuracy is more important than count. Your goal is to learn how much time different tasks take to complete rather than penalizing employees who don’t work precisely 40 hours a week. You don’t want them fluffing up the numbers just to reach their 40-hour-a-week quota.
Step 3 – Onboarding
Once you’ve explained the importance of time tracking to your team and addressed their concerns, it’s time for the next step – onboarding them to your chosen time-tracking solution.
How you introduce your employees to time tracking can greatly impact their willingness to comply with it and whether they accurately report their activity. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Hold a Meeting
We understand that starting the onboarding process with a team meeting might not be everyone’s cup of tea (who wants to have yet another meeting?). But, it’s one of the best ways to introduce a new time-tracking system and ensure everybody is on the same page from the get-go.
Additionally, this onboarding team meeting could be an excellent opportunity to reiterate the importance and benefits of time tracking, your company's goals, how things will develop in the upcoming months, and address concerns.
Let’s review some of the things you should cover during the first onboarding meeting.
- Introduce the time-tracking solution to employees;
- Give them a detailed explanation on how to use it;
- Let them try it out for themselves;
- Reiterate your company’s goals and reasons for implementing such a solution;
- Set aside enough time to hear out your employees' first reactions, opinions, and views about the new time-tracking system.
Use the Power of Tutorials
Many companies that provide time-tracking solutions will have prepared packages, like video tutorials, to help employers and managers onboard their teams with their tools. So, don’t hesitate to ask the time-tracking company for onboarding resources.
Have Clear Guidelines
Having clear guidelines around time tracking is an integral part of a successful onboarding process and can also help you get your employees to track time. Here are some things to consider when creating guidelines for employee time tracking.
- Set realistic expectations for both accuracy and productivity of time tracking. You should do your best to avoid creating a company culture that promotes overworking or pushes employees to report their work hours dishonestly.
- Clarify how (if at all) small breaks, lunch breaks, and other non-work-related activities should be recorded and tracked. Explain to your employees how and when to log breaks and when to simply pause or stop the time-tracking system.
- Have clear rules and regulations on how your employees should track overtime (if overtime is allowed in your company) and non-billable time.
- Establish a verification and review process for all time tracking records. This will help ensure that the records you collect with the time-tracking solution are accurate. Additionally, you can find ways to incentivize your employees to regularly review and check their time logs for any errors or mistakes.
- Ensure adequate training and support are given to all of your employees. The main goal is for them to fully understand the time-tracking process and use all the tools as effectively as possible. Not everybody picks up things quickly, so give ample time and opportunity to all your employees and ensure everybody has an equal chance to learn how to use the new time-tracking systems.
Create a Schedule
Having a consistent schedule will help ensure that all of your employees are on the same page and will further eliminate any additional stress that might come from unclear expectations. For instance, you should pick one day each week when all employees have to send in their timesheets.
With a schedule, your team members will know exactly when their timesheets are due. This will further prompt them to check their timesheets for mistakes and help them avoid all the headaches and problems that may arise from dealing with timesheet errors.
Additionally, you can set weekly reminders to ensure your employees don’t accidentally forget to fill in timesheets or send them in. Keep in mind that some time-tracking apps have an automatic reminder and timesheet approval process, which are quite useful and will help you avoid these issues.
Have Someone Be Accountable for Time Tracking
Having someone accountable for how the entire time-tracking process is implemented and administered across your company is a good way to get your employees to track time. You could give this opportunity to one of your managers or hire someone new.
Also, assigning someone to be responsible for the time-tracking process gives your employees a person with whom they can share their feedback, ideas on improvements, and complaints. This way, they’ll feel supported, and you’ll engage them with the entire time-tracking process, which is a good way to guarantee participation.
Step 4 – Integrate Time Tracking Into Your Company’s Workflows
Integrating time tracking into your regular workflows can be an obstacle if your employees are hesitant or if the solution doesn’t mesh well with the nature of their role. Luckily for you, we did some research, so we share some tips that can help you overcome this issue.
Quick tips for integrating time-tracking into your company’s workflows:
- Have your employees track time on the devices they use the most – If your employees regularly use a work computer, check to see if your time-tracking tool is available as a desktop app. On the other hand, if some of your employees are always on the move (attending client meetings or visiting new potential customers), check if the time-tracking solution also comes as a mobile app. If most of the work in your company is done online, look for a browser extension. And, if your company has a bit of everything we've previously mentioned, look for a tool that offers all of the above options, like My Hours.
- Look for integration opportunities – Many time-tracking software solutions offer various types of integrations, some directly and others through third-party solutions, like Quickbooks or Zapier. These integrations will allow your employees to track time directly through the interface of the project management software they're currently using without needing to get a new one or change up the processes your employees are already familiar with.
Additional Tips for Managers
The manager’s job continues after the onboarding process. The focus now should be on maintenance and continuous improvement. Here are a few tips that can help you do this successfully.
Make Sure Time Tracking Is Easy and Convenient
The resistance from your employees will be smaller if your time-tracking process is simple and easy. For instance, to make it more convenient, you should look for software that allows users to track time from various devices, such as PC, Android, iOS, and more.
Something we want to reiterate because it’s that important is that you absolutely want to minimize the amount of input required from your employees. Ensure that employees don’t perceive time tracking as an additional daily task or another tedious administrative chore.
Don’t Use the Time Tracking Data Against Employees
If you want your employees to trust you and keep a healthy work culture, you should never use the data you gather from tracking to punish your employees. When you start doing that, people will start looking for ways to outsmart the system or leave the company. They’ll find ways to record work hours when they're not actually working, which can significantly impact their productivity and compromise the accuracy of the data you’re collecting.
Try to shift the focus to quality rather than quantity of the work being done. Think of it this way: an employee that spends extra hours at work is not better at their job if they deliver the same results as an employee that only works eight hours a day (or even less in some cases).
Seeing time tracking as something exceptionally negative could also result in quietly quitting (a phenomenon in which employees only put in the minimum amount of work to keep their jobs — barely).
What you should try to do is to use the gathered data as a means to help your employees better understand their abilities, work proclivities, as well as the needs of their teams and your company. You should use time-tracking data to empower your employees and help them grow as working professionals in their field. If you frame it like that, you'll have all of them tracking their work hours in no time.
Regularly Follow-up With Your Employees and Ask For Feedback
After your company’s time-tracking process is implemented, it's essential to have regular follow-ups with your employees to ascertain how well everything is coming along. You’ll be surprised how often your employees have comments and feedback that can improve the time-tracking process.
Also, by asking your employees for input and acting upon it, you’ll build trust and make them feel valued. Rember, you should strive to create a time-tracking system that works equally well for everybody in the company – managers and employees included.
Periodically Communicate the Value Time Tracking Has Brought to Your Company
A good way to ensure the continued use of time tracking in your company is to periodically communicate the value it brings to your business. Share the success and accomplishments that were made possible through the use of time-tracking tools. If time-tracking helped you with better allocation of resources, which turned a one-year-long project into a six-month project, share that with your team, and so on.
Also, if one of your employees has performed better due to time tracking, encourage them to share their thoughts and insights with the team.
- Keeping a record of employee work hours is important for any business. It ensures a company is compliant with labor laws, accurate payrolls, client billing, etc.
- Time-tracking apps are great tools for tracking employee work hours.
- Some employees might be hesitant to track time. That could be because time tracking can feel like extra work, or because they feel that their employers don’t trust them.
- To motivate employees to track time you should communicate the value it can bring them. Always address their concerns and try to include them in every step of implementing a time-tracking solution into your business