Time is money in today’s business world, so much so, in fact, that many organisations now keep track of their employees’ time when they are out in the field. Time tracking is not only to make sure employees aren’t cheating on hours. It’s also a way of pinpointing inefficiencies and streamlining work practices.
Self-tracking is asking your staff to fill in a form or punch data into tracking software on a daily basis. Therefore, for self-tracking to work, it has to be:
- Simple — if it is a complicated or time-consuming procedure, employees will stop doing it or, worse still, start fudging it.
- Universal — this means setting an example by reporting your own hours as well.
- Regular — hours need to be filled in at the end of each day, or they will be forgotten or inaccurate.
- Honest — if employees don’t feel they can report honestly, then you will get an inaccurate picture of their hours.
- Positive — pay employees a small incentive for tracking their hours, rather than punishing them for not doing so.
This method of time tracking involves using mobile technology to keep tabs on employees in the field. The advent of mobile VoIP has meant phone calls between company phones and mobiles are quite often free, so one way of keeping track of your employees is simply to call them, or have them call in.
VoIP also offers instant messaging, which is another good way to stay in touch, along with teleconferencing and videoconferencing, both of which are options on VoIP-enabled smartphones. It is important that you don’t abuse this form of contact, however, as calling too often could be construed as spying or harassment.
This a method of time tracking often used by large organisations with many employees. It involves placing a GPS tracking device on company vehicles so they can be located at any time of the day. This is not only useful for controlling fleet movements, but can also improve customer service by matching jobs with the nearest available operative.
You can also download a range of apps that use GPS to pinpoint the location of employees’ mobile phones. Employee surveillance apps and software are now big business in many countries.
There is a school of thought that considers time tracking to be unnecessary and counterproductive. It can breed resentment amongst employees if they feel they are not trusted and can erode the team spirit you have worked so hard to build. The argument is that a company culture based on spying on one’s employees is not a recipe for high productivity or staff retention.
Keeping track of someone’s hours is not even an indication of the amount of work they do. An employee could be in the right place at the right time, but doing absolutely nothing while there. This school of thought argues that it is better to develop a culture of trust and mutual respect between staff and management, because if we all feel like we’re on the same side, we are far more likely to spend our time working to achieve the company’s goals.