How to Motivate Employees to Track Time

Inaccurate time tracking and payroll discrepancies may cost companies a great deal of money. Thus, tracking an employee’s time accurately with the help of the right tool is imperative.

However, encouraging employees to track their time or persuading them to use a tool for this purpose is another challenge, especially when they resist it while thinking that this monitoring is done for surveillance purposes or to micromanage their activities.

So, how can you motivate employees to track their time and minimize such errors in payroll and billing? Here are a few tips to help you resolve this issue without fail.

Communicate Why Tracking Time Is Important

Before introducing any policy for tracking time, employees must understand its purpose, significance, and requisites.

Make sure you acquaint them with the following:

  • The purpose of time tracking
  • The reason why you need to track their time
  • How will the business benefit from it?
  • How will it help employees in terms of productivity and time management?
  • What tools will you be using to facilitate it?

You can spell out the advantages of tracking time, such as transparency of work, accurate payroll processing, and preventing unnecessary overtime work. Ensure you give reasonable answers to their questions and queries with clear explanations.

For instance, if you’re handling a government project and have the contractual requirement to log exact work hours, you need to explain to them its legal ramifications. Similarly, if you bill clients based on the number of hours spent on their respective projects, share this requisite with employees.

Or, you can tell them the basic reasons as well, such as you need to know where most of the time is spent on which projects so that unprofitable ones can be stopped. Transparency and honesty are the keys to earning employee’s trust and motivating them to track their time.

You can even survey the employees to know how many of them support the implementation of time tracking and how many don’t (and why). If some employees don’t favor this system, you can have a one-on-one conversation to listen to their side of the story and offer a solution accordingly.

Streamline the Process of Time Tracking

When the method used for time tracking is way too complex, manual, and time-consuming, employees can find it hectic to record their time.

The best solution is to leverage an automated time tracking software that can automatically capture the work time of employees in a hassle-free manner. With such software, they will just need to log in and out during their start and end times, and the work hours will be automatically stored in their timesheets.

They can also add hours and work done manually in the digital timesheets. However, this process has become simplified with the advent of new technologies.

For example, in the case of AI-powered timesheets, the system monitors the browser activities and fills the timesheet accordingly, making time tracking much easier and feasible than ever before.

Create Written Guidelines

Employees who work on different projects simultaneously may get confused about:

  • how to track time when working on different projects
  • how to categorize activities and work time under different project names

To help employees with such questions and queries, document everything in one place and share these guidelines with all employees. In these guidelines, you can explain how to track time for different projects, how to use tags and labels, how to differentiate work time for various projects, how to generate reports, etc.

Having a single source of truth to find all the relevant information will help resolve any conflict or ambiguity and will work as a handy guide for new joiners.

Guidelines can prevent confusion and back-and-forth communication, especially if you’re introducing a new time tracking tool. Using any new tool often requires some training or guidance. Even if you have explained to employees how to use the tool, it’s likely that they will initially forget the process.

So, having a tutorial or a guideline on how to use a tool for basic set-up and operation will ensure that employees, especially those who aren’t tech-savvy, don’t face any challenges in using the tool or software.

Tip: You can also include the written policy or agreement in the employment contract.

Incentivize Employees for Tracking Time

Incentivizing employees to record their work hours properly boosts their morale and bolsters them to track their own time.

For example, you can have a rule to reward employees who log their work hours accurately and are the most punctual. You can set a prize and declare their names at the end of the year.

However, it’s best to use carrots but not sticks. Avoid humiliating or punishing employees for not tracking their time. This will further demoralize them and discourage them from recording their work time.

Have a Feedback Loop

The best method to check the competence of any policy or system is to have a feedback loop. After a month or so, you can get feedback from employees by collecting their opinions, experiences, and suggestions via online surveys or brainstorming sessions. It can help you learn the following:

  • How is their experience with the system?
  • Do they feel comfortable tracking their time?
  • Are they facing any challenges or roadblocks?
  • Is the tool used intuitive enough?

Their inputs can give you an insight into these and other factors you may not have considered in the first place. This can help you assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the time-tracking system you use.

Set Up Automatic Reminders

In case employees forget to log their time for any particular day, there should be a system that can remind them of their absent time entry.

Employers can use time-tracking software with a reminder feature to notify employees if they forget to fill their timesheets. For instance, if any employee forgets to fill in their hours for the last day, the tool will send them a friendly reminder to fill in the hours they failed to register. This will reduce the manual work and back-and-forth communication between the manager and employees.

Give Employees Some Liberty and Reassurance

If you want to gain employees’ trust, the key is to give them the liberty to choose how they would like to track their time. For example:

  • Do they want to use the timer for login and log out, or
  • Would they like to fill their timesheet manually at the end of the day?

By giving employees this choice, you give them control over their time and schedule.

Even if you decide to use a timer option or a tool that records employee’s work hours automatically without human intervention, make sure to assure your employees that the system isn’t implemented to micromanage their activities or spy on them. Instead, it’s to understand how the time is being spent, in which activities, and in which projects. Explain that this is being done so that they can make prudent decisions on which project to prioritize and which ones are not worth putting resources into.

Run a Trial Period

You should consider the size of your company before opting for any time-tracking system for your employees.

If you run a big company, consider deploying a system in one department or team. Then, after a month or so, evaluate how it goes.

You can take employee feedback and ask the participants questions to know about the following:

  • Their opinions and experience with the time-tracking system,
  • How to make this process smooth for all employees
  • Whether the system has any challenges or loopholes
  • Is the system intuitive enough for all employees
  • Can the system be scaled for the entire organization?

This way, you can assess its outcome & effectiveness, identify any hiccups, change the tool (if required), and address the problems at the initial stage. Once you acknowledge the success of this trial period, you can scale it across all departments of your organization.

Bottom Line

Encouraging employees to track their time can be challenging, especially when they don’t have visibility into its purpose, significance, and usage. However, having an open line of communication, explaining its needs and benefits, and asking employees about their opinions on time tracking can help you gain their trust and thus boost their motivation to track their time.

Featured image by Freepik.

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