Technology and Software

How do I motivate my employees to track time?

It is one of the biggest challenges organisations face when implementing time tracking systems for the first time, since many employees see time tracking as an extra burden.

9 Dec 2013 | 1 min read
Sascha Skydsgaard
”Rather action movies than love movies” is one of Sascha Skydsgaard’s mottos. It also characterises her more than 12 years tour de force in TimeLog. As TimeLog’s CSO, she works tirelessly to keep the organisation up to date and optimise our internal processes.

Some employees see time tracking as surveillance and do not like that the manager can control exactly what they do and see how long their working days are. It is especially difficult to implement time tracking in an organization that have not used time tracking before, since it demands discipline to track time accurately and on time. Due to this, it is important for the managers to communicate the purpose of time tracking to everyone in the organisation to create a common understanding of why it is important.

But if you really want to succeed with time tracking, the most important thing is to answer the employee's question:

"What's in it for me?"

Before this question is answered it will be difficult to maintain daily time tracking without spending a lot of time on follow up and reminders, which is no fun neither for the manager nor the employees. 

It differs from person to person what motivates to do regular time tracking. Which type of motivation that works for the individual depends on the employee's role in the organisation and psychological profile. Projects managers most often reacts to the fact that they can keep track of their projects, and employees can use their time tracking to document why they cannot reach a deadline.

Here are some arguments compared to different motivational factors, which we have seen through the years, and can help answer the question "what's in it for me?":

The financial argument

Time tracking ensures that all hours are tracked on customers and it creates more billable hours, which creates more revenue. The result of this is a profitable company - and the more revenue you have, the better chance the company has to grow and avoid reductions, which benefits everyone.

The personal argument

Time tracking can be used as a tool for a staff development interview between the individual employee and manager. It is highly useful information, as it can help you set personal goals and account for a possibly too high workload. This motivates the employee to do time tracking, since it is no longer only project and department managers who benefit from it. Suddenly employees can provide exact documentation for not reaching a deadline, when constantly receiving additional tasks. In this way time tracking can help improve the everyday life of the individual.

The service-oriented argument

By creating an overview of how much time is spent on the single tasks, the organization can adjust the project plans on an ongoing basis and have a good dialogue with the customer if a deadline cannot be kept. It can be dealt with upfront and documented to avoid handing over the project to an unsatisfied customer, who then does not want to do business with you again.

The project financial argument

Over time it will be possible to have an overview of your fixed price projects. Are the projects profitable or not? In this way you are able to adjust offers on similar projects to avoid losing money on future projects. Furthermore, you see which customers are more profitable for the business. You will be surprised which customers have the highest contribution margin.

The analytical argument

What does the company spent its time on? Is it on the right projects or business areas compared to the strategy or does it spent too much time on administration? Time tracking can help develop a company from being administrative and analytical to being more executing, which benefits everyone in the company.

- And this is where TimeLog is a good example! For about a four years ago, we started analysing more strategically on our time consumption, and we found out that we needed to change some processes and use less time on administration. Since then we have succeeded in coping with many of the challenges we were faced and can now at any time see if we are on the right track.

If you have any good arguments or advice you want to share with us, we will be happy to hear them.

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