- What is time tracking?
Time tracking is very important for businesses. Tracking worked hours correctly is crucial for effective business management and profitability. It is also important to track time to be aware of how employees are spending their time.
Businesses must track time to monitor attendance, ensure employees receive the wages they deserve, protect the interests of the business, create invoices for clients’ billable hours, and ensure compliance with the law.
Time tracking is just as crucial to businesses as any other metric, but they often have difficulty convincing staff to see it as a helpful activity instead of a burden.
So, how do you go about motivating employees to track time and how can you implement strategies to make time tracking easy and pain free?
In this article we will look to answer these questions and many more.
What is time tracking?
Time tracking is the process of recording time against activities. In the business environment, time tracking refers to recording working time of employees against activities assigned to them.
In many cases, time tracking is performed using time tracking software that provides not only handy tools for capturing time but also analytics and reports that give insight into personal and team productivity, costs and profits, time distribution across tasks and projects, ad more.
Why is time tracking important?
Time tracking is essential to understand how a business and its staff spend time at work. The goal of time tracking is to increase productivity, gain insight, and ensure a smooth workflow.
Here are a few other reasons why time tracking is important:
- Keeping track of employee time is an excellent way to ensure accountability and boost employee productivity.
- Many small and large companies use time tracking software to ensure that their employees’ payrolls are accurate.
- Using time tracking software, the team and the entire organization can gain greater performance insights.
- As a result of time tracking, employees can better analyse their performance since they can see where their time is spent.
What benefits are there to time tracking for a business?
Time tracking has numerous benefits for businesses, including:
Transparency in work processes
By incorporating time tracking into workflows, businesses automatically increase their organization’s transparency. Employees can log their hours giving transparency to their work, helping managers to hold their team members accountable.
The time tracking tool also provides employees with a more comprehensive view of their own work. As well as monitoring their workload, it allows them to can see what their co-workers have been up to.
Increased profitability and the ability to make changes when costs are spiraling
Time tracking can have a huge impact on a project’s profitability as it allows businesses to monitor how money is spent.
Managers can track project budgets and reprioritize tasks if something does not pay off as expected giving flexibility to control profits and cut loose projects when their profitability is no longer viable.
Time tracking doesn’t just mean logging hours and creating timesheets. Time tracking can increase productivity and motivate teams when appropriately used. It provides an overview of work processes which can allow managers to refine areas that are not performing. It also gives businesses the ammunition necessary to discuss employee performance, which can help when discussing who is and who isn’t pulling their weight.
Time tracking tools establish accountability among employees because they provide information about when a job was completed, who completed it, and how long it took.
Because of the necessity to record time, employees become more focused on their tasks, and it makes it less likely that they will slow time or shirk work.
Managers looking to improve performance
They may look like just numbers to any regular employee, but timesheets are an invaluable source of information for managers and business owners. With enough data, they can help businesses easily identify the most profitable projects, discover any bottlenecks and see which tasks and activities eat up the most employees’ time. With that information, managers can make real, impactful changes to improve team performance and transform business.
What are the benefits of time tracking for different types of businesses?
Time tracking benefits many types of businesses and workers but not necessarily in the same way. Here are a few examples of those who do benefit from time tracking and the reasons why:
Companies with hourly and part-time workers
When a business pays employees by the hour, the hours they work are especially valuable to an employer. Keeping track of hours worked by staff allows managers to get direct insight into wages and other expenses and have more control over project costs.
Companies that bill by the hour
If you bill customers on an hourly basis, time tracking is all but essential. Instead of relying on inaccurate and often incomplete data from notes or your employees’ memory, you need to have a detailed record of the exact amount of work you did on a specific project. This will not only ensure that all work gets billed, but also allow you to build a relationship with your customer that is fair and transparent by letting them know exactly what they’re paying you for.
Non-profits and charities
Since non-profit charities operate almost entirely on donations, they tend to be under a lot of financial scrutiny from tax authorities as well as their donors. Being able to produce a report detailing exactly where funding went and how much time was spent on projects makes accountability becomes much less of an issue.
When you work as a freelancer or run a one-person business, the last thing you want to do is work for free. That’s where time tracking comes into play. With even the simplest timesheet app, you can keep track of your time and guarantee that every hour of work is accounted for and billed to your client.
Keeping a timesheet as a remote employee is a great way to keep your manager and your team in the loop when it comes to progress and contribution to a specific project. Should they ever suspect you are slacking off, you can point them to your time records and show that you’re putting in as much work as the rest of the team.
As a business owner, how do I go about motivating employees to track time?
Getting employees to track time is often one of the greatest challenges for any business when introducing time tracking processes.
Staff might not be completely comfortable with time tracking at first, but you can get their support with the right understanding and clear direction.
Here are a few tips to help you motivate staff to track time:
Explain why time tracking is important
One of the most important steps in getting staff to track time is to be transparent about why the business needs time tracking and how the business intends to use the data.
It is important to explain why time tracking is necessary so they don’t feel like the process of monitoring time is just a way for managers to control what they do.
Help your employees understand the ‘why’ before they begin tracking. Simply understanding ‘why’ can help motivate them to get tracking.
Be transparent in why time tracking is important
This tip is an extension of the point above. Transparency is often the key when dealing with employees. Telling them the truth about why you’re doing something is often part of the battle in getting them to accept it.
Build trust and don’t use employee data against them
You must establish trust with employees before adopting any significant change like implementing time tracking. For them to trust your reasoning, you need to clearly state that the new time tracking process is not there to spy on employees.
Don’t use time tracking as a way to punish or reward an employee based on their tracked hours and set out to them how you plan to utilize this information to help them and the company to succeed.
When you start using time tracking software to criticize employees, they will revolt and start seeing it as a weapon to be used against them.
Make it as easy as possible to use
One way to encourage employees to track time is to make the whole process as simple as possible. The majority of their work will already be challenging enough, so making one aspect of what they do easier will only benefit them in the end. When it’s easier to track time, people are more likely to do it.
If necessary, help all employees with basic setup and provide support as needed. Make sure you provide clear guidelines on how time should be tracked.
Ask for feedback
You should ask employees for their opinions on the time tracking practices after they have been implemented. It’s very important to check in with the team from time to time and adapt processes if they aren’t working.
It’s your employees who have the most expertise in your business and their feedback is vital for making good decisions and making improvements. Feedback can make processes more efficient and builds trust with staff.
Provide rewards for proper tracking
A powerful way to change employee behaviour is to use rewards. A business can offer rewards to employees who properly log their hours. This will motivate employees to follow time tracking processes and may even increase productivity. By recognizing and rewarding the most productive employee, a business can encourage other employees to follow suit.
Set a schedule
A consistent schedule helps keep everyone on the same page and eliminates any stress around expectations. Choose one day when everyone’s timesheets are due. Most organizations pick something like Friday afternoon or Monday morning. This way people know when they have to have timesheets completed by, and they know when they’re likely to receive a follow-up.
Don’t forget to remind them when it’s that time of the week. An automatic reminder or recurring calendar event can do the trick. Your time tracking tool might have a reminder function built right into it that you can take advantage of too.
Make someone accountable for time tracking across the business
The reality is that time tracking is likely to fall through the cracks every now and then, even on the best teams. If there isn’t someone there to provide a gentle reminder, you might find that it just doesn’t get done.
Make someone accountable for time tracking across the whole company and consider building it into their job description to help make sure it happens. This gives the team someone to give feedback to if they think the system could be improved. Often the best way to get your team to track time is to engage them in the process.
What does the law say about managing employee time tracking?
The law is a bit of a grey area when it comes to employee time tracking in the UK. Although the Government has set out regulations that require all employers to keep ‘adequate’ records of time and attendance, it’s not clear what exactly, ‘accurate’ means.
The UK regulations do not explicitly require employees to record information of rest breaks start/end times of shifts, or time spent on any specific activity. Rather, they are only legally required to keep ‘accurate records’ of any hours worked, especially overtime.
Obviously, for a business time tracking is vital so it’s important that policies are set out clearly to staff and contracts of employment worded to ensure that time tracking is explicitly covered.
Managing time tracking of employees can be time-consuming in itself. But with the right attitude, policies, and an open manner, it shouldn’t be something that causes any business, no matter how big or small, too many problems.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide. For more useful workplace information, check out the rest of our website.