When it comes to time-tracking software, holy war lights up instantly. And it does not matter with whom you talk about it: the topic touches employees as well as team leads, managers, and executives… For example, let’s imagine a growing IT company that suddenly begins to lose profitability. Based on our practice of communicating with dozens of CEOs from different sectors of the economy, the most common reasons for the “sudden loss of profits” are:
- the company lagged behind the market by not updating its products;
- there is no marketing strategy;
- top management leaves planning and contingencies to chance;
- internal conflicts between key persons; the company just lost track.
However, many scared executives try to “patch the holes” in the budget by introducing restrictions, bureaucracy, and other emergency measures. It is one of the reasons, why employees dislike and avoid time tracking. Workforce monitoring should be used as an R&D tool, not as an emergency reason to cut budgets. If only because this approach can give a very small and very temporary increase in profits, but in the long run it will lead to the withdrawal of skilled team members. But more so, because it makes people scared of reporting as if it was the method of repression, not the R&D tool it should be.
Skill gap drama: why are employees afraid to track their work hours?
Though the 2017 and early 2018 stats show spectacular productivity and overtime in the US, and 63% of Americans prefer tracking their hours, millions of people are still uncomfortable with time-tracking software. There is a clear reason for it called “the skill gap.” In psychology, there is a phenomenon called the “C-D gap,” where “C” is “competence,” and “D” is “difficulty.” When a person has a gap between his/her competencies and the complexity of the task facing him/her – this person is in trouble. As a rule, in this situation, the brain tries to quickly come up with (or borrow) a set of simple rules to create the illusion of control. The sad thing is that no set of rules replaces a lack of competencies; otherwise, everyone in the world would have become super-successful a long time ago.
The Talent Shortage Survey, conducted by the Manpower Group in 2016, surveyed 41,700 hiring managers in 42 countries; the survey revealed that 38% of participating employers said they had difficulty filling jobs. More so, it showed that a lack of innovation could cause the skills gap. The old-school time card punching techniques aren’t designed for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Empowering people with different approaches and different backgrounds with flexible tech can make a world of difference. It can promote the exchange of opinions, spark conversations, and lead to new ideas, innovations, and the closing of the skills gap. In January 2018, McKinney researched 366 public companies across North America and the United Kingdom. The study found that companies with flexible time-tracking tools and apps that allow for more than dry, bottom-line reporting were 15% more likely to outperform companies with strict timesheets.
An article on time tracking and workplace monitoring bravely entitled “The Spy Who Fired Me” depicted another one of the most common fears of employees toward time tracking. The article questions if the modern time-monitoring software “has taken on a life of its own.” Meaning, that time tracking and workplace monitoring are tools companies use to eliminate costs at the expense of their employees, using the data to keep employees from being classified as full-time or receiving benefits.
However, today’s generation of tools is made less to cut budgets and more to check on the progress of projects and employees’ availability for other tasks. More than that, even the older and less flexible time-tracking software, when properly and ethically used, can actually be very beneficial to the employer and employee alike.
The rise of the “knowledge worker” made knowledge and skills, not manual labor, the most valuable commodity. According to Evan Rosen of BusinessWeek: “In reality, everybody today qualifies as a knowledge worker.” With the old-school card punching, it might have been a challenge to understand how such a worker contributes to the company’s bottom line.
For example, if a programmer working on multiple projects within a company and some of the code created for Project A is also used in Project B, how much did Project B really cost? What is the value of the resulting software? Today, we have proper time and project tracking tools and apps that help companies trackless and understand more as well as account for the contributions of their employees.
How to choose a flexible time-monitoring software for your team?
If you feel like it’s time to stop the “guestimations” when it comes to your team’s productivity. Time4Team is the new tool to take the pulse of your team without the need to forsake the time management tools they’re used to. “How does it work?” you may ask. PPM Express|Time is built to interconnect your time management and project management apps into one feasible report. It “talks” to all apps — from Trello and Jira to Microsoft Office 365 — with all their clever contraptions and lays out a clear map of what you were doing today.
For example, if you had a meeting scheduled in Outlook, later worked with documents in Word, closed a couple of marketing issues in Trello, and finally finished a release in Jira, you’ll get a step-by-step ghost trail of your actions in Time4Team. You and your colleagues never have to remember “what they did last summer.”
One of the most important things about introducing time-tracking software in your enterprise is that the tracking itself does not take away from the job. For example, if your marketing team uses Trello, your meetings are scheduled through Outlook, and your developers and designers go with JIRA, it might become a whole new quest to report it all… The best way to cover this issue is to choose an app that integrates with other tools. Time4Teams is just the kind of tool that tracks other trackers if you will.
Over the past 20 years, the time that employees spend on teamwork has grown by 50%, and, on average, three-quarters of their working days are due to interaction with colleagues. To make things work with a time tracking system in the first place, one should remember the basic principles of great team building and choose a tool that allows implementing them on a daily basis.
1. Avoid micromanagement – a time-tracking toolkit should not give out the vibe of constant supervision and Spartan discipline. Employees feel more useful and prosperous if they have some freedom of action in achieving specific goals. To grant autonomy is to express trust. Time4Team gives users a way to automatically gather the list of “chores” finished all over the Microsoft Office 365 spectrum – Planner, Groups, Teams, and even Word. More than that – edit them, add and delete tasks, as needed.
2. Set clear goals: each team member must clearly understand his/her role in the team, his/her goals, and the methods of achieving them. Time4Team creates the overall vision of the project by integrating “the big picture” from Planner or Trello.
3. Establish feedback: encouragement motivates effective work, and constructive feedback sets the direction of growth for the team. Team members can chat and assess the progress in Teams, and the updates and corrections exchanged are listed in your timeline and form a continuous report in the PPM Express | Time solution.
4. Convey the reasons for introducing the time tracking applications in the first place and getting the new employees accustomed to the idea that working hours monitoring is in place, so it becomes a regular, simple procedure, like brushing your teeth twice a day. Make sure that people are not afraid to report, because it always has some sort of psychological pressure. By providing transparency in the employee-management relationship, clear goals, clear feedback, etc., people will always know what to do and will not be afraid to report on it.
Corporate time-tracking success stories
Some of the famous and successful people owe their greatness to the plain paper notebooks they wrote their to-do lists in, later to cross items off. Ludwig van Beethoven wrote down his first symphonies on a notepad. Pablo Picasso made his preliminary sketches in one. Thomas Edison and Leonardo da Vinci, J.K. Rowling, and George Lucas – they’ve used pen and paper to get things done. So can we. However, what would have happened if those notebooks were lost or misplaced? Well, we would’ve probably had fewer jokes about R2D2, and Harry Potter might have been “Kevin” instead.
For a modern-era employee writing down the tasks completed in a notebook can mean losing their job – plain and simple. Using time-tracking software eliminates the chance of losing time and money. It allows you to save up to 16 hours a week per employee on-time reporting, which is 16 hours you could spend doing something else – being more inspired, and more creative. It also makes you compliant with the new and revised FLSA rules that affect the majority of small businesses. This includes record-keeping and overtime accounting.
75% of U.S. employees believe employers don’t give them access to the latest technology to do their job efficiently (Source: Staples). Employees’ perceptions should never be disregarded. You should ensure your employees are comfortable with the tools you choose to work with. Instead of talking further about motivation, we’ve decided to share the TED Talks video by Kerry Goyette, the founder of Aperio Consulting Group, where she talks about how employees are already motivated and how to focus on their motivations.
The Gallup statistics show that about 70% of U.S. workers are disengaged from their workspace. This survey suggests that employee disengagement from the workspace makes it harder to track productivity. Unless the IQ of those who tried to remember everything done for the day is 184, we come back to “guestimation.” The average worker is reported to spend 13 hours a week on meetings and conference calls. That’s where the tracking device that includes emails, conference calls, and listed meetings from the calendar would come in handy.
A survey by CareerBuilder.com showed that 44% of employees blamed the outdated workforce management tools for cutting their productivity; 36% said that manual input into time tracking software impedes their workflow. Employees who believe their workplace effectively uses modern apps and tools are more creative, satisfied, and productive at work. The survey conducted by the Economic Unit highlighted the relevance of automated technology to business operations. It suggests that time trackers integrated with all the tools in the toolbox presents chief information officers and project managers with a way to dramatically improve their business performance by evaluating and shaping the employee experience more accurately.
It’s time to realize that time tracking is not the enemy. It’s beneficial for everyone. It allows evaluation of your own efficiency, easy reporting of the work done, accurate cost and salary estimation, and more flexible and swift invoicing. In a word – it allows you and your bosses to keep it simple in terms of tracking project progress. Today, the apps are fast and easy to use, giving you and your PMOs a way to choose between daily, weekly, or monthly reports and overviews. It actually increases your personal productivity and, possibly, allows you to earn more with hourly wages. It helps every employee learn how he or she spends their time and control it.
When you get one, you start seeing changes in productivity and can control the profitability of your projects and tasks.
PPM Express|Time is a wholesome solution that can ease personal “pains” and calm managerial concerns. Adoption of PPM Express|Time for your business has some tangible benefits:
- Accounting of actual working hours;
- Monitoring the performance of freelance and remote teams;
- Assessment of workload;
- Real performance and productivity evaluation.
An automated time-tracking app, using the idea of an “audit trail” as a governing principle, allows you to account for every action taken with each separate tool used in your enterprise. So, it basically offers you the ultimate time tracker capabilities and a promise that employees won’t waste time on remembering, recollecting, and manual data input of all the tasks they or they finished this week. PPM Express|Time makes individual time reporting easier than ever, while making the overall productivity report even more accurate.