Time Tracking Without Employees Feeling Micromanaged

It can be challenging finding a balance between tracking employee time and giving staff members complete time management autonomy. On the one hand, tracking and scrutinizing employee time can make staff feel policed. On the other hand, daily time tracking can decrease productivity leaks by 80%. Fortunately, there is a middle ground. To help you out, we’ve put together four things you can do when beginning a time tracking program to prevent your employees from feeling micromanaged.

1. Explain the Value of Time Tracking

It’s easy to tell your team members to track their time. However, it’s extremely challenging to get employees on board and motivate them to carefully track their tasks every day. Your employees may say that time tracking is tiresome, reduces productivity, and is inconvenient. Hence, the primary concerns you need to address are the emotional issues. Without clear communication, employees may believe that time tracking is a way to impose management’s unrealistic goals and high expectations, which can result in a lot of fear, stress, and anxiety.

Upper management can combat the fears related to time tracking by communicating the value it brings. Begin by explaining the reasons behind the time tracking tool and why it’s essential. For example, if your organization is charging clients by the hour, you need to explain how productivity while clocked in, is vital to the company’s success. Or if you have projects billed at a fixed price, you can tell your employees how your company’s profit margins work. It’s a great way to introduce the cost of productivity leaks to your organization and how you can work together to reduce time-consuming, mundane work. You can take it a step further by showing employees that your own time will be tracked as well, emphasizing that it will be a tool for awareness rather than enforcement.

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2. Onboard Your Team

As business consultant Dan Steiner explains, writing for the Huffington Post, “If you do decide to bring time tracking into the workplace, it’s important to take the right approach to avoid upsetting your employees.” 

The first communication to employees about your planned time tracking system plays a critical role in setting the tone. To begin, consider calling a general team meeting to introduce the time tracking tool. 

In the meeting, you can explain why it’s necessary to track time and communicate its benefits. For example, since 80% of workplace interruptions have little or no value, you can go into detail about how it will help in reducing interruptions and unnecessary tasks at work. 

It’s also an excellent opportunity to explain how your organization leverages the data it collects, emphasizing that you won’t scrutinize employees’ time and micromanage everyone’s work schedule.

Finally, explain the other tools that will become available along with the time tracking features of the system that will make life easier for employees. For example, explain how the system will save them time by automatically calculating their timecards for payroll, and how it will make it easier for them to request and track paid time off.


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During the onboarding process, you should also include a demo. By going through the step-by-step instructions to install and use the time tracker, everyone can understand how it works, and how they can implement time tracking into their daily schedules. The meeting and demo will allow everyone to get on the same page, ask any questions, and ensure that your team is on board.

3. Make it Easy and Convenient 

Don’t expect team members to begin adopting time tracking immediately. Employees need to try it out before it can become a daily habit. You want to make the process as easy as possible. After introducing the time tracking tool and having employees try it out, integrate the tool into your team’s workflow.

You can start by encouraging your team members to track their time using the device they use the most. For example, for software developers, since they’re often on their desktop computer, you can recommend a time tracking desktop app. Sales teams, who are often on the go, meeting with clients, can track their activities via a mobile app. As for creative team members who are always on-site but may not be at their desk, they can track their activities on their iPads.

4. Offer Rewards and Create a Positive Experience

While it’s easy to create harsh consequences for those who don’t track their time, it’s more effective if you introduce the time tracking tool as a new positive experience for the team. Motivate and encourage your team to recognize the benefits of time tracking on an individual, group, and organizational level.

A great way to create a positive experience is to gamify the experience. Help people help themselves. Ensure each team member sets personal goals around focus, procrastination, and eliminating distractions. Along with personal achievements, you can also implement a reward system for your whole organization. For example, if in the first week everyone uses the time tracker at least once a day, the team is rewarded with a small company outing. These outings can include a happy hour after work, an office party, or a company lunch at an up-and-coming cafe in town.

If there’s a standout performer, you should also recognize them for their efforts. David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom at Forbes noted that “Recognition is the number one thing employees say their manager could give them to inspire them to produce great work.” 

It’s important to make sure employees don’t associate time tracking with a negative experience. Don’t punish people or publicly shame them through email or in-person if they forget to time track or do it incorrectly. Negative reinforcement will breed frustration and resentment.

If you want to introduce a time tracking tool to your organization without resistance or stress, make sure you follow the four tips above. Explain the importance and purpose of the tracking tool, onboard every team member, make it easy and convenient, and create a positive experience by offering rewards and recognition when team members perform well. This will help you set a course that will ensure you win over your team’s trust before moving forward. 

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Author Bio

Dean Mathews is the founder and CEO of OnTheClock, an online employee time tracking app that helps over 8,000 companies all around the world track time. 

Dean has over 20 years of experience designing and developing business apps. He views software development as a form of art. If the artist creates a masterpiece, many peoples lives are touched and changed for the better. 

When he is not perfecting time tracking, Dean enjoys spending time with family, friends and finding ways to make the world just a little better. You can find Dean on LinkedIn.

4 Ways to Start Time Tracking Without Employees Feeling Micromanaged

Category: Company CultureEmployee ManagementHR Tools