Introducing a time tracking tool to your company can be a challenging task. The main causes for the difficulties are the feeling of resentment and fear of micromanagement. It can also be difficult to introduce another step to each team member’s already busy daily routines. This is especially true if most of your employees are not very computer-savvy.
However, the benefits of time tracking far outweigh these initial hurdles. For example, time tracking software solutions offer a comprehensive overview of all important aspects of any business, as most of them don’t only track employee hours. Here are some examples of the positives of time tracking:
- An insight into your company’s profitability in real-time and historically
- Knowing who your top performers are and how to reward them
- Understanding which clients are costing you more and reducing your profitability
- Registering the negative practices and distractions your team faces
- Having a clear representation of billable and non-billable hours
- The employees will understand the way they work and use their time more effectively
If you introduce the software the right way and make sure you are implementing positive time tracking practices, tracking time will become an integral part of your business. Both you and your employees will be reaping the benefits once the whole team gets into the habit of logging hours.
Here are 19 ways to get through the initial difficulties.
1. Follow the Company Culture
Company culture is a cornerstone of every business. It is the reason your employees are staying with you. It also defines the way they spend their time at work and how they expect their workdays to go. Hence, introducing a solution that disrupts their daily flow and makes their routines more stressful can have negative consequences.
Hence, you will need to make sure the software does the least amount of damage and is introduced with as little stress as possible. The way to go about this is by choosing a solution that will allow your employees to continue working the way they are used to. Then, you will need to present it as such and make sure everyone understands there will be very little change in their workdays. Focus on the positive results of time tracking, both on the company and individual levels. Here are some specific ways to do it.
2. ‘’Soft Announcement’’ Is the Way to Go
A ‘’soft announcement’’ is a great way to create the initial awareness of the changes you will be making. Simply put – schedule a meeting and explain the absolute basics of the topic at hand. This practice doesn’t give many details away but introduces the staff to the idea of time tracking. This will make the impact of the official announcement less prominent and sudden.
Having a general idea about time tracking for some time will give your employees the time necessary to get acquainted with the idea. Announcing the meetings beforehand will prevent any ‘’leaked’’ information. This way you will be signaling the change is nothing to be afraid of, too.
The timing of the soft announcement is very important. It is crucial to give the news some time to circulate naturally. However, too much time will allow tension to build, or even make the management seem unprofessional. The ideal timeframe is two to three weeks before the meetings.
3. The Second Introduction
A soft announcement clearly isn’t enough for your team to get completely up-to-date. That is why you should make a second announcement setting up the meeting schedule a week before the meetings themselves. This can be done in person or through email, depending on the size of your organization.
Either way, you should make sure that this announcement gives crucial information about the meetings:
- Informing the employees about the platform you’ll be using
- The purpose of the software
- The plan to train the staff and demonstrate the features of the platform
- Any additional information depending on your case
The information should be clear and to the point. Try not to meander and give too much information at once.
If your employees have the basic information, they will also have some questions for you. This will incentivize them to communicate their concerns and inquiries when the time comes to introduce the software.
4. Organize Short Meetings
Sending a memo that introduces a significant change is very impersonal. Additionally, if the said change seems like something that will impact them negatively in any way, it is much better to break the news in person.
The best way to go about this is by having one-on-one meetings with each employee. That way, they will be able to ask any questions they may have and get precise answers. This practice will also demonstrate that you are not distancing yourself from them, but continuing to have a personal as well as business relationship.
The problem arises when you are leading a large team or multiple teams, and talking to each member would take too much time and effort. In this case, you should organize meetings by the sector or team. Namely, the meetings should be as personal as possible, but still time-effective.
5. Be Clear About the Purpose of the Software
This should be the goal of the meetings. If you’ve conducted the soft announcement and short introductions well, you shouldn’t have problems doing so.
Still, you should focus on making the reasons for needing the software as clear as possible. If you lack transparency or come off as vague, the reception of the platform will be lukewarm at best and take a lot more time.
Most companies don’t implement time tracking to spy on their employees. Yet, many employees see the practice as a gateway to micromanagement and controlling behavior. That is why you should ensure this isn’t the case and present the positive sides of tracking time on a personal level.
6. Be Explicit about the Benefits
A great number of employees see time tracking as a meaningless practice that only takes up their time. If you are trying to get your team on board right from the start, you should put effort into curating a list of examples of how each team member will benefit from the practice. Here are some concrete examples you can use:
- Understanding your own work rhythm and utilizing your most productive periods
- Recognizing the first signs of burnout
- Allocating all tasks according to each team member’s capabilities and current workload
- Identifying distractors and preventing unproductive behavior
- Making the workflow better adjusted to the needs of your team
7. Be Level About What Time Tracking Will and Won’t Do
Understanding the benefits of a time tracking platform still doesn’t remove the fear and hostility toward using one. To get the best results, you will have to understand the potential grievances your team could have with it. Try to put yourself into their position and think of the questions and concerns they may have. They’d probably be security, micromanagement, and privacy-related.
As you can see, all of these points have a common thread – boundaries. This isn’t strange, as there are many time tracking platforms out there that cross them. For example, some tracking software solutions offer the employer an insight into all applications, websites, and documents the employees use during their workdays. Moreover, some even offer screenshots of user desktops at set intervals and deliver them to the management.
You will probably agree this level of micromanagement and privacy breach is unacceptable. Hence, you should inform your team about the type of information the platform will and won’t be collecting.
8. Choose a Simple Time Tracking Tool
You should pay close attention to the method of data collection. This includes the time it takes to use the software, the amount and relevance of data it gathers, and the complexity of the features. Simply put – the more complex the solution is, the more difficult it will be to implement. You can apply this both to everyday use and the initial setup of the system.
This means choosing the time tracking software solution is as important as using it properly and regularly. This falls entirely on the management. In other words, doing research is a good way to avoid confusion and initial misunderstanding, as well as reduce the time needed for the entire team to start using the platform efficiently. The quality of usage depends on
- The age and computer savviness of your employees
- The number of features the platform offers
- The complexity (or lack thereof) of the interface
Make sure the system you choose is simple and quick to use, as well as that each member of the team can use it regularly and with no issues.
Also, the time blocking app is a good way to understand your work rhythm and match it to your daily schedule.
9. Be Clear about the Rules
Even if you’ve chosen a simple solution, you will need to explain how it works to make the most out of your time tracking platform. If you can do it in person, it would be the optimal solution. However, if that is bound to be time-consuming or complicated (if, for example, there are different rules for different sectors), you should delegate the task to managers, team leaders, etc.
Create a basic set of guidelines that apply to the entire company, then differentiate between the diverse needs of the departments. Streamlining and unifying the time tracking process will help you avoid confusion and make sure everyone is taking all necessary steps to track time correctly.
10. Conduct a Training Session if Necessary
Reading and listening about the basic rules is one thing. However, the experience of working with the software can still be daunting. That is why a hands-on training session may be necessary. This way the employees’ initial introduction to tracking time will be clear. They’ll have the opportunity to see the features at work and get the answers to all the potential questions you haven’t thought of beforehand. Simply put – this practice will make sure everyone understands the basics well.
11. Revise the Training in Due Time
Additional questions and dilemmas can arise as the employees get used to using the software. That is why you should set up a follow-up meeting and see whether your team needs additional help. If you can, conduct an additional walkthrough.
Creating a document or a video demo of the basics and your guidelines is a useful tactic for future employee onboarding as well. You will be able to reduce the time, effort, and costs of onboarding and training of new employees, and allow their managers to dedicate their time to other issues.
12. Integrate the Practice into the Workflow
Seamless integration isn’t possible in most cases, but you should still try to make time tracking a part of your company’s daily routine. Again, this is highly dependent on the simplicity of the system, and the time it takes to track time successfully.
The best way to make your team commit to the practice is for it to show results. As the company and the employees reap the benefits of this business practice, they will become more disciplined when it comes to their daily reports.
The initial rise in transparency is a great way to motivate your team to take the time each day to fill their timesheets. You should conduct a more equal work distribution as soon as possible, as you will get the information needed for this business move very quickly. Make sure to remind them that the benefits will only grow as the platform gets more information.
13. Prevent Slacking
Even if your team makes time tracking a habit, there will be both isolated cases and periods when there is so much work that many employees forget to fill their timesheets. Hence, you will need to assign someone, either on the company or team level, who will remind the rest of their colleagues to do their reports regularly and in time.
The person accountable for time tracking should preferably be compensated for this activity, and it should become a part of their job description. This way you will be preventing them from slacking and make sure the job gets done. Additionally, this person should be able to give you feedback and suggest improvements for the future.
14. Send Funny Reminders
Having a new constant step in your daily routine isn’t fun. Especially so if it can be easily forgotten. Adding a little bit of humor may relieve some tension and be a gentle and funny reminder. Sending timesheet memes to team members can relieve some stress and be a good-faith notice.
Remember, no one likes being criticized constantly, and direct reminders can seem like micromanaging and criticism combined. Hence, a milder option is a better solution in this case.
15. Make Employee Data Protection a Priority
The time tracking platform you choose should take privacy and data protection seriously. After all, you and your team are trusting it with crucial information about your business. In the same vein, you should be careful about the permissions employers and managers have over employee data.
We have mentioned the privacy concerns coming from different tracking solutions that collect data a little too zealously. Here are some of the examples of bad tracking practices:
- Recording mouse and keyboard activity
- Keeping tabs on the apps, sites, and documents your employees interact with
- Taking screenshots of their computer screens
On the other hand, a trust-based time tracking solution shows that the employer understands the need for privacy and the ability to do one’s work in peace. It also incentivizes the employees to be responsible since it treats them as such right from the start. Hence, a timesheet solution that offers the option of creating repeating tasks and templates users can fill on a daily basis is a good middle ground option between complete automation and a simple weekly Excel sheet.
16. Be Prepared and Open for Questions
You should constantly strive for improvement. That means being open both to feedback and answering questions that arise while the employees use the software.
It would be useful to organize a follow-up meeting to make sure everyone is using the platform correctly and to its full potential. Encourage questions and make sure employees are comfortable enough to express their opinions. This way you’ll also be able to hear suggestions on more efficient use of the system firsthand.
17. Avoid Turning Time Tracking into a Nightmare
Having an additional step added to your daily routine is stressful in and of itself. Additional stress coming from your employer is bound to create some negative feelings and even impact your productivity and attitude towards your company.
That is why employers should never see time tracking as an opportunity to seek ways to punish their employees. This is the worst course of action you can take, as it will bring the company morale down. If it is evident that some workers are continuously having worse results than the rest of their teams, you should first try to figure out if they need additional help or are overworked.
Only if they are actively non-cooperative should you take more severe corrective measures, ranging from suggesting additional training to terminating their contract.
18. Allow Flexibility
Even though you need to set some ground rules for using the time tracking program, these guidelines don’t have to be set in stone. You need to allow for a little bit of leeway right from the start. Additionally, the constant use of the program can point your team toward new ways to use the features more efficiently.
On the other hand, you need to be prepared for some employees to have more trouble using the platform. These issues should be resolved as soon as possible but may demand multiple sessions and explanations.
If the majority of your team members are more experienced and set in their ways, you could lead by example and record and share your own experience with the software. Share your own issues and the learning curve you’ve had in order to encourage the slower learners to share their experiences.
19. Positive Reinforcement Is the Way to Go!
We have already covered the reasons why using time tracking to micromanage and punish isn’t productive. In contrast, using positive incentives to motivate your employees is a great way to associate successful time tracking with rewards and make it an overall more positive experience.
There are many ways to reward your team. You should make the rewards appropriate for your company culture and the size of your teams. The same factors will impact the way you reward your employees – by team or individually. When in doubt – gift cards are a great solution, as long as they match the recipient’s interests.
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