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How to motivate employees to track time

Written 27 March, 2018, 2 minutes to read

Since time tracking began, managers have been hounding employees to log their hours. It’s a problem many companies still haven’t cracked, but we think we have: the best way to motivate employees to track time is to remove the dreaded burden entirely.

The time tracking motivation problem

When people are serially unmotivated to do a task, something is broken. So, when your employees repeatedly forget to complete their timesheet, it’s not a sign that they’re lazy or stubborn and don’t realize the importance of time tracking; it’s a sign that the existing process just doesn’t work.

Managers go to great lengths to gamify time tracking into being fun. No one’s fooled – it still sucks. The sheer enormity of competitions, punishments and rewards you desperately dream up serve only to prove that the problems of tracking time go deeper than company culture. Gimmicks actually only distract you from addressing the actual problem.

Why employees won’t track time

There’s a whole nebulous of reasons why people won’t track time.

Some relate to the fact that time tracking is actually quite a hard, draining task. It requires you to remember what you worked on in intense detail, which is almost impossible if you spent most of your morning multitasking. It’s extremely cognitively demanding and we simply aren’t built to have that level of accurate, itemized recall.

Others forget to track time because they’re concentrating on their main productive tasks. Time tracking is a classic example of a “low value” task that breaks people’s ability to focus on high-value deep work. It’s unsatisfying, it interrupts “real” work and it categorizes work in an unnatural way.

Many employees understand why time tracking is important to their company without subscribing to it personally. Where billable time is king, you can fall into a trap of thinking the longer you spend on a project, the more valuable your work. This can lead to a rather toxic attitude to non-billable time, which you should definitely address with your team.

Free employees from time tracking

If people aren’t biologically built to track time, hate doing it and feel their productive focus suffers as a result, why would you keep trying to make them do it?

At Timely, we’ve removed the burden of employee time tracking completely. That doesn’t mean we’ve stopped tracking employee time; we simply use an automatic time tracking app to do it for us.

Automatic time trackers essentially do everything you were trying to make your employees do. They track everything you work on, so nothing is forgotten or misrepresented. Timely actually uses AI to intelligently log hours and create timesheets for employees. Time tracking simply becomes something they don’t have to bother themselves with ever again.

The accuracy and simplicity of automatic time tracking speaks for itself. Get your team to trial it out for a couple of weeks and see how they receive it. We guarantee they’ll prefer it to “Friday timesheet beer pong”.

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