Monitoring your employees’ work and tracking their time does fuel productivity. But at what cost?
Imagine if you added an extra hour to your life every day. How would you use it? Would it be quality time with your family, self-improvement time, or time for scrolling through social media? And would you track what you were doing?
Time is undoubtedly the most valuable resource we have today. And we track most of the things we do: how long we sleep, use the phone, keep moving.
Some employers have adopted employee time tracking to maximize efficiency. And while it’s sometimes essential to running the business, it can also provoke disruption and lead to excessive control. Therefore, you should first consider what problem you want to solve before implementing a time-tracking solution in your business.
Pros and cons of time tracking
Let’s first look at some of the pros and cons of employee time management. We list some advantages below.
Time tracking helps employees focus on their tasks, avoid multitasking and distractions, which can eat up to 40% of our overall efficiency.
With many employees working remotely today, time tracking can give managers better insight into who did what and how much time they spent on work.
The data collected by time tracking software can serve as a basis for cost and time estimates for future projects, helping avoid potential discrepancies between estimates and invoices.
Manual completion of timesheets by employees can be time-consuming – both for the employees and those supposed to analyze the data. Time-tracking software does away with the need for manual data input.
Time tracking software can help you manage your billable and non-billable hours and eliminate “leaked hours.”
Dangers and pitfalls of time tracking
However, time tracking can have its downsides, the first and foremost of which is the feeling of excessive control. Employees whose work is tracked may feel that they are being spied on and that their supervisors do not trust them – primarily if a new policy is poorly implemented.
Extreme examples of time management and work-life monitoring are most prevalent in Asia. In the Chinese market, the big tech companies are introducing productivity-enhancing technologies in cut-throat competition. Some of them can be unethical, burdening workers with more stress. And while they increase efficiency, the actual cost comes at the expense of people’s well-being or even their lives.
Another danger of extreme time management is what is known as “productivity guilt”. It’s a constant need to accomplish more and see more significant results, even though goals and tasks are routinely achieved. Although this is a natural human tendency, it can create persistent pressure and affect mental health in its extremes.
The bottom line on productivity and time tracking
But behind the pros, cons, and dangers of time tracking lies something else – namely, why you want it in your business.
“Before you implement a time-tracking solution, you need to know what problem you’re trying to solve,” says Daniel Aduszkiewicz, the CEO & Co-Founder of Human Panel. “If you want to increase productivity, time tracking is not the only solution. While it can be an excellent business decision, you should first look at your people analytics data and decide what you want to accomplish and why,” Daniel Aduszkiewicz adds.
To reliably assess the efficiency of your teams, you should collect many different kinds of information. Some examples are time spent on a project, cost, billable and non-billable hours, customer score, and NPS (Net Promoter Score).
“All this information can help you build a data network around employee performance and productivity. In the long run, it will help you find better talent, build better teams, and align them with your customers’ needs. And most of this data can come from people analytics, especially if the team is working remotely,” Daniel adds.
Communication is key
However, if you do decide to implement time tracking, there’s one crucial area you need to address: communication.
“Time tracking may be obvious for your business because you have a law firm, and your employees are primarily billable. But if your business is shaped differently, introduce the change with the utmost transparency. Explain the point of your decisions to employees – whether it’s to get a better idea of workflow, increase transparency or reduce micromanagement,” says Daniel Aduszkiewicz.
Also, allow the trust to build with new tools and don’t take the first weeks’ data very seriously. Wait until you have credible results. “If you are running a large organization with more than 200 employees, I would advise against forming judgments in the first few months, as the data can be misleading,” adds Daniel Aduszkiewicz.
It’s been proven that time-tracking apps can boost productivity. That said, they are not the only way of achieving this goal. If you want to get more answers about the performance and efficiency of your teams, and potential cost optimizations, you need more data. You can obtain these metrics through people analytics. We’ll be more than happy to help you set up people analytics for your business.
Whatever you decide, remember to communicate any changes clearly and give yourself some time before announcing results. Also, don’t turn into a Big Brother, and do everything you can to make time-tracking software a tool your employees will truly want to use.