Before 2020, a lot of companies were not interested in the process of time tracking. Managers were able to visually assess which employees are working and which aren’t. But with the rise of remote work and gig workers, it has become integral for all companies to look at time tracking data.
Employee time tracking processes can give HR and management valuable data to improve efficiency and productivity in the workplace. Having a clear process for time tracking also improves employee-management relationships by making payroll processes more transparent.
Are you focusing enough on this important activity?
What is Employee Time Tracking?
Employee time tracking is the process of monitoring the number of hours every employee works.
It is done for two reasons- measuring productivity and completing payroll.
When employees had a set in and out time, it was easy to track the number of hours they put at work. Employees manually punched in to record their attendance at the workplace and punched out at the end of the day. The time between punching in and punching out was used to calculate wages.
Although the logic remains the same, with different workday options, the process has become more complicated. While some employees work full-time from the office, others may work remotely, and others part-time. Some employees may also work as freelancers and contract workers from time to time.
In addition, it is also increasingly common for companies to have remote global teams working in different time zones for the same project.
In such cases, employee time tracking becomes quite complex and time consuming for HR.
There are two main facets to time tracking in today’s businesses – project-wise time tracking and productivity based time tracking.
Productivity Based Time Tracking
With work timings becoming more flexible, employees have the freedom to take breaks, work from different parts of the world, and sign in at any time. In such scenarios, it becomes necessary to check if employees are devoting enough time to their work.
Employee time tracking processes enable the management to track employees’ work progress in real-time and intervene wherever productivity is sub-par.
Project Time Tracking
When you have employees working for various clients and projects, time tracking can be challenging for both HR and management.
For certain businesses like law firms and marketing agencies, billable hours matter and you need to track time very precisely. On the flip side, clients who are billed for the number of hours an employee puts in may require elaborate reports to release payments.
If the same employee works on multiple projects then the right time tracking processes also show the project-wise breakdown of the employee’s hours and help in forecasting work allocation and productivity.
The bottom line is that irrespective of the size of the firm or the business, time tracking is an important piece of the business analytics puzzle.
Employee Time Tracking Commandments
Are you looking to implement employee time tracking processes in your workplace? Check out these 11 commandments to get you started.
#1 Employee Time Tracking Commandment: Create a Universal Timesheet
A timesheet is a data table that records the time spent by an employee at their workplace. Timesheets can be manually filled, recorded and maintained online, or automated using software. Irrespective of the kind of timesheets you use, making the format universal for the entire organization is key.
The questions HR must ask themselves are:
- How many fields will the timesheet have?
- Which format will the date and punch times be recorded in?
- Can employees edit timesheets?
- Will you use monitoring software to check on employees?
These are just some questions that need to be answered before you create a timesheet. Having inconsistent and unique timesheets will make it impossible to keep track, let alone review them.
While most organizations have moved away from manual timesheets. Digitised timesheets also require fool-proof structures and methods. For examples, creating a dropdown list where employees can select an answer in the cell range instead of typing it manually can help managers. It becomes much easier for management to evaluate structured timesheets and create reports.
#2 Employee Time Tracking Commandment: Combine Attendance Tracking with Time Tracking
Attendance tracking and time tracking are two sides of the same coin. But often companies only care for one.
Unfortunately, in the times we live in it has become integral to not only track when the employee is working but also how they’re working. Traditional forms of attendance management like swipe cards, fingerprint systems, and geolocation systems aren’t able to capture time tracking data. They’re only able to monitor leaves taken by employees and punches.
With project-wise and even activity-wise time tracking employers are able to create much richer time tracking data that can add value in business analytics.
#3 Employee Time Tracking Commandment: Track All Activities
AffinityLive is a company that helps with automating services. The company surveyed 500 workers in various industries. Below are some of the conclusions drawn in the survey:
- Employees spend about 2.6 hours a day reading and replying to emails
- Employees spend 15.5 hours every week in meetings and calls
Are these tasks tracked? Do employees bill clients for these activities? Such activities often take up a considerable part of an employee’s day but mostly remain unaccounted for.
Identifying such regular yet unaccounted tasks can be financially rewarding to the organization while billing clients.
#4 Employee Time Tracking Commandment: Monitor Overtime Expenses
When you have employees working on an hourly basis, keeping track of their overtime expenses is important. Since overtime costs a time and a half, too many employees claiming over time can cause an increased financial burden for the company.
When managers assess employee reports, it is important to keep an eye on the number of hours that employees put in every day. Using the reports to identify overtime expenses and making sure they do not exceed the company’s budget is integral. This information help forecast workforce requirements and perhaps the opportunity for split shifts.
#5 Employee Time Tracking Commandment: Automate the Process
Traditional paper-based employee time tracking methods require employees to note down how they spent the day in great detail. This process is very time-consuming and there is a lot of room for error.
A regular spreadsheet type of time tracker would have an average of 5-7 columns. If the employee works on multiple projects, they would have to fill in multiple timesheets every day. Some organizations further overcomplicate the time tracking process by having numerous fields to fill.
In this day and age, it doesn’t make sense to waste time to track time. Give employees an automated system that can work for them and the business. Rudimentary automation can be where most fields are auto-filled. All that the employee needs to do is approve and make changes where required.
But obviously, as the company grows this style of employee time tracking with no longer work.
#6 Employee Time Tracking Commandment: Invest in an Effective Software
A time tracking software is a tool that can be customized to handle full time, freelancing, and even remote employees.
Such software solutions come with a user-interface where employees can punch in and punch out along with project wise time allocation. These tools can generate time tracking powerful reports for HR and management to analyze.
If billable hours is a key metric for you, time tracking software can collate detailed project-wise reports.
Tools like Attendencebot can also handle additional complexities of shifts, overtime, and vacation approvals with ease.
Irrespective of size, all organizations can benefit from using time tracking software. All HR needs to do is look for tools that match their requirements and budget.
#7 Employee Time Tracking Commandment: Train your Employees
Have you invested in a software solution that will make employee time tracking easier? Make sure that you take the time to train your team on how to use it. Explain the benefits of the new software and how it would make their life easier.
Not doing so from the very beginning can confused employees and lead to lesser adoption rates.
Be patient and answer all questions employees may have about the new process of time tracking. Document the entire time tracking process and share it with all employees who will be using it.
But what if you had a software that worked on traditional communication platforms like Slack and MS Teams? Using something like this would ensure that there isn’t a steep learning curve and adoption rates would be optimal from the very beginning.
Time tracking solutions like AttendanceBot make punching in and applying for vacations seamless for employees. It is just a matter of dropping a command to a bot and the information will be recorded.
#8 Employee Time Tracking Commandment: Make the Right Use of the Time Tracking Reports
As HR, you can schedule your time tracking reports either according to your payroll cycle or as you see fit.
Analyze the data and see if you can help employees save time and work smarter. Check for red flags in productivity that you may want to escalate to managers. Schedule periodic discussions with managers to identify areas where the company can improve.
A great example of how time tracking reports can be useful is when an organization reviewed its team’s timesheet and found that they were visiting the client’s location at least 3-4 times a week for a couple of hours. They were losing at least 8-10 hours just in travel time. The company addressed this problem by allocating one day for client visits in a week saving precious time that was spent commuting.
These small yet significant insights can change the way an organization does business and improve overall employee productivity.
#9 Employee Time Tracking Commandment: Set Clear Time Tracking Expectations
If time tracking is mandatory in your organization, your employees must take it seriously, too. Make sure everyone understands the importance of time tracking. You can also send reminders, e-mails, and flyers to ask employees to track time as they are working.
This can be a challenge when you have a large number of employees. Most employee time tracking software sends reminders to employees when they haven’t updated their timesheets.
#10 Employee Time Tracking Commandment: Limit Access to Editing Timesheets
Safeguarding the sanctity of time tracking data is important. It wouldn’t be right for someone other than the employee and manager to alter work hours. Both unapproved alterations to timesheets can create confusion while processing payroll.
Most employee time tracking software systems give limited access to edit timesheets. This ensures that the data stays safe. With AttendanceBot, you can choose who all can make changes to the timesheet. If an employee forgets to clock in, they can go back and change the timesheet if they have access rights.
#11 Employee Time Tracking Commandment: Make Time Tracking Hassle-Free
Employees work hard to meet deadlines and complete their work throughout the day. The last thing they want is to spend more time filling extensive timesheets and attendance reports. Irrespective of whether you use time tracking software you have to value their time and make sure that the process does not take more than a couple of minutes.
The same holds for people who verify the timesheets. Managers should be able to quickly assess the billed hours to approve or reject them and verify the productivity period. Some time tracking software can also spot red flags and auto-approve/reject entries based on pre-set terms.
Can Employee Time Tracking Transform Businesses?
Over the years, employee time tracking has changed from being a mundane entry system to becoming a source of intelligent data that can change the way businesses perform. Picking the right time tracking software will enable help HR monitor, track and analyze this data to boost productivity and drive business results.
Is your existing employee time tracking method effective?
Does the method give you insights and data that matter?
If your answers to any of these questions are no, you may want to consider investing in the right time tracking software tool.
Invest in the right tools and make time tracking information valuable and the process hassle-free.