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How to Motivate Employee Time Tracking

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How to Motivate Employee Time Tracking

Lost time costs time - and money

As a general rule, people don't enjoy filling in their timesheets. We have found through our surveys and client meetings, that getting employees to track time and productivity is the biggest challenge managers face when adopting a time tracking system.

Why? Because lost time costs time - and money.

According to Harvard Business Review, untracked work hours could be costing the US economy 7.4 billion dollars per day. When every minute has real value, tracking employee hours can have a big impact on your business. In our 2015 user survey, we found that teams using Toggl Track save an average of 12,441$ per year - that's without counting the profits from accurately tracked and billed employee hours.

Time is a business metric as important as any other, but getting your team to see time tracking as a productive activity rather than a chore can be difficult.

To help you tackle this common problem, we have put together this short guide on how to convince your employees to track their time properly. The tips we share here are based on the experiences of our customers, as well as those of our own team.

#1 Communicate the benefit of time tracking

Time tracking isn't just your business - it's also your employees'.

Trust is crucial for successful cooperation. Forcing your employees to track their time without any explanation will breed a culture of suspicion, and can lead to people cheating with their time logs.

To avoid this, make sure everyone in your team understands what you need time tracking data for and how it benefits your employees, your company or your clients. Honesty and clear communication goes a long way in establishing trust and if you do it right, you might not even need the following tips.

Remember that employee productivity often boils down to good management practices, so keep communication open and free.

Illustration of employee overwhelmed at work

#2 Make sure you have clear guidelines

If you want time tracking to work in a meaningful way, you will need a system. Your reports will be rendered useless if people don’t track their time under the correct projects, or if they use the wrong tasks or labels. Before your team starts tracking, explain to all involved what is the proper way to track their time.

As with the first point, explaining why something has to be done in a specific way will make adopting the system easier.

#3 Help every employee with basic set-up

With Toggl Track, a basic setup is extremely simple and requires hardly any guidance. But keep in mind that if you want your employees to use time tracking, it’s important that they feel you're meeting them halfway.

As with the first point, explaining why something has to be done in a specific way will make adopting the system easier.

Also, keep in mind that the fewer obstacles you have between the user and the system, the more likely they are to adopt it successfully. If people don't understand something, they are not going to use it.

#4 Share the reports on the office TV

Unless the time logs need to be kept private, sharing the reports with your team is a great way to build trust.

If you have a TV screen on the office wall, use it to display the team's tracking data. This way people can see the impact of their work in real time - they might even think about new, more efficient ways of doing things.

The only thing to keep in mind here is to not use the data for public shaming if you're unhappy with an employee's work habits. Remember that trust is difficult to build and easy to break.

Illustration of employee giving feedback

#5 Follow-up and ask for feedback

Your employees are the biggest experts in your business. Because they work with the finer points of your business day after day, their feedback is invaluable to making good decisions and adjustments.

Keep checking in with them to see how your team is adapting to time tracking. If they have any problems, concerns or suggestions, use that feedback to improve your system. The easier it is for them, the more likely it is that they'll stick with the habit!

This is also a great opportunity to show your team that their opinions and input is valued by the management. Also, when you start analysing the time tracking data, include your employees in the process. Together you'll have a better chance of discovering things that could be done differently.

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Employee gifts

#6 Offer rewards for accurate tracking

Using rewards is a powerful way to modify people’s behaviour. The key concept here is what psychologists call "positive reinforcement" - rewarding someone for showing the desired behavior, making them more likely to repeat that behavior in the future.

People are more likely to adopt a new habit when they feel their progress is tied to specific rewards. If you don’t have the resources to pay people bonuses based on their time logs, you can use other sorts of benefits - like days off or small gifts.

Another potentially effective tactic is to turn time tracking into a competition. For example, by posting people's timesheets on the office wall for everyone to see can lead to more disciplined tracking as the employees seek to out-perform their colleagues and friends.

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