In any business, time is the most important
resource. Time equals money and wasted time equals wasted money. If you’ve seen
Avengers Endgame, there’s one line in the movie that pretty much sums this up:
No amount of money ever bought a second of time.

An organization where employees don’t track how they’re spending their time at work is,  therefore, an organization that is wasting money, particularly when 89% of workers have admitted to wasting time while they’re on the clock.

However, not all time tracking practices are
created equal. There’s more to time tracking than just the mundane act of
employees clocking in at the beginning of their workday and clocking out at the
end of their shift.

In short, time tracking that delivers real and
positive business results—better productivity, highly engaged employees,
cost-efficient projects, etc.—needs to go beyond mere tracking of work shifts.

What follows is a 7-point checklist to help
steer your workplace time tracking in the right direction. It’s also easy to
remember. Just keep in mind the age-old mantra: T.I.M.E. I.S. GOLD. It’s a
mnemonic which stands for the following checklist:

T ime Categories Identification

I nvestment in Time Tracking Technology

M anagement Support and Adoption

E mployee Appreciation of Time Tracking Benefits

I ssues of Privacy and Transparency Resolution

S mart Goals Setting

GOLD-Standard Evaluation and Evolution

Here’s how it works:

Time Categories

Bad time tracking practices result in dirty,
unusable data. One of the worst mistakes that you can make is not thinking
about the structure of the reports that you want to get from your time tracking

One way to avoid this is to clearly and
specifically determine time categories. For example, one best practice is to
track activities based on projects. This will allow you to identify both
project efficiencies and inefficiencies. General day-to-day tasks can be
grouped together under an “Administrative” category and skills development
activities can be classified under “Training.”

Whatever you decide, make sure that everyone
is using these time categories consistently. You can achieve this by doing the

  • Having a required field for time category.
  • An employee handbook or manual that clearly defines each category.
  • Face-to-face training on how to use time categories.

Having these time categories will give you
insightful and usable productivity, project management, and time management
reports, enabling you to make smarter business decisions.

Investment in Time
Tracking Technology

In an age when digital transformation is making life easier for businesses, it’s quite strange how several offices are still tracking time using manual and outdated processes such as spreadsheets and punch cards.

These manual processes consume a significant
amount of time, not to mention that they’re highly inaccurate. According to a
whitepaper by Accelo: “[One] reason why timesheets are so painful to use is
that keeping track of time is manual. Since most timesheet applications don’t
allow users to enter time easily as they go, people end up having to use their
own manual way of keeping track of what they’re doing – like a notepad on their
desk, or a text document open in the background on their computer – and they
have to remember to be disciplined about tracking when they start and finish
working on tasks, only to then have to transcribe it all later. Only the most
disciplined of people are able to be relied upon to get this right.”

Enter automated time tracking technology.

While the time tracking technology you choose is not the be-all and end-all, it is a crucial ingredient of every successful time tracking system. It allows you to automate the process and record employee activities with accuracy and convenience. Added features such as payroll integration, PTO monitoring, and project reporting are cherries on top of the cake.

Management Support
and Adoption

A top-down approach is best if you want your
employees to comply with your time tracking policy. This means that your fellow
managers, members of the upper management, and some C-executives should track
their time using the same systems, processes, and applications that your rank
and file employees are using.

Appreciation of Time Tracking Benefits

“I am so thrilled to track my work hours.” Said
no employee ever, and for several reasons.

Some employees may feel that time monitoring
is a form of micromanagement or an invasion of their workplace privacy. Many
may think that logging their hours could be cumbersome and add to their already
heavy workload. Scepticism toward time tracking is more of a norm than an
exception. This could manifest as low compliance to your time tracking policy
or a high level of resistance to a new time tracking implementation.

Managers and HR leaders can turn these
negative sentiments around by making sure that their team understands the value
and benefits of having time tracking in place.

Here are just some of the benefits you could

  • Better project planning by having benchmark data. This prevents scope creep, reduces overtime work, and keeps projects on track, which contributes to overall employee wellness.
  • More accurate payroll for hourly employees, with minimal, if not zero errors on timesheets.
  • More opportunities for remote work with web-based office time clock software.
  • Accurate recording/crediting of accrued paid time-offs.
  • Productivity incentives for deserving employees.

It’s normal for employees to be wary of new
systems, especially if they don’t know what’s in it for them. Explaining the
benefits of time tracking to their overall work performance and experience is
an important ingredient in every successful time tracking initiative.

Issues of Privacy

One of the friction points managers and HR leaders observe when implementing time tracking is workplace privacy invasion. You don’t want to create mistrust among your employees by making them feel that Big Brother is watching their every move.

The reality is, almost all forms of employee monitoring is legal as long as they’re done with consent. The operative word above is consent.

According to research by Dtex Systems: “77% of employed Americans would be less concerned with their employer monitoring their digital activity on personal or work-issued devices they use to conduct work, as long as they are transparent about it and let them know up front.”

Avoid being shady, vague, or hazy when
explaining how time tracking works to your employees. Don’t withhold
information and make sure that you’re clear on the following 3 points:

The time tracking technology you’re using and
how it works; especially how it collects and stores data.

What activities you’re going to monitor and on
which devices.

How you’re going to use employee activity data
outside of timekeeping purposes.

Smart Goals Setting
and Monitoring

Just like any aspect of your business
operations, time tracking should be associated with objectives that are
specific, measurable, assignable, relevant, and time-based; commonly known as
S.M.A.R.T. Goals.

Some of the common time tracking goals

  • Productivity improvement
  • Overtime hours and cost reduction
  • Increase billable hours
  • Improve project scheduling and

Having SMART Goals attached to time tracking
enables you to ask the right questions and arrive at the right insights to
improve your staff’s performance.

Evaluation and Evolution

Setting SMART Goals as mentioned above also
allows you to set a benchmark on how time tracking is contributing to your
workplace’s overall productivity, efficiency, and profitability—a gold standard

As your business grows and as you implement
changes, you need to constantly evaluate this benchmark so it remains
applicable and ensures that you are aiming for the right targets. You might
need to evolve your processes, systems, and even your technologies from time to

As you can see, even in time tracking the only
constant is change.

It may not be
written in your job description in black and white, but as a manager or HR
leader, you are one of the primary protectors of your organization’s most
precious asset: time. Great managers are effective resource managers and this
includes making sure that in the workplace, every second counts.

The post A 7-point time tracking checklist for managers and HR leaders appeared first on HR Morning.

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