How to Motivate Employees to Track Time? | UBS
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How to Motivate Employees to Track Time?

July 5, 2022
Time Tracking
time tracking tool

So, as the head of HR, you’ve finally made the decision to introduce time tracking. You persuaded the leadership team that it is necessary for project success. The CFO gave you a budget.

You looked into many time tracking tools and put them to the test before deciding on the best one for your company.

You’ve put in a lot of effort, and now the time has come to reap the benefits. You finally present your employees with this brand new time tracking system.

And what was the reaction?


No one is keeping track of time. Worse, you’re now wasting valuable time persuading individuals to complete their timesheets.

You understand how important the time racking system is to your business, but you’re willing to give it up completely just to be rid of this tremendous headache.

It’s not easy to get your team to keep track of time. It’s easy to tell them they need to measure their time; but getting them to do it is another story.

To urge your employees to keep track of their time, you must address their worries, make the procedure as simple as possible, and try to make the practice a habit.

Why is it necessary to keep track of time?

Data from employee time tracking software can strengthen their work habits.

It can help with queries like “Does the majority of their time go toward their key priorities, or are they continually distracted by minor non-essential tasks?”

Management and staff can analyze how their time was spent and where changes can be made by using time tracking.

Time management is essential not just for work but also for each employee’s personal growth.

Precise time tracking leads to fewer payroll problems and improved communication across remote teams, which advantages employees in the long run.

Time tracking research in Harvard Business Review shows that employees who don’t track their hours cost the US economy $7.4 billion each day. 

Work-related communication, including phone calls, emails, and meetings, is usually underestimated by employees.

In other words, time tracking is critical to a company’s performance.

time tracking

Why are individuals so averse to keep track of their time?

  • What others have said: Tracking is inconvenient and slows down work.

The primary concern is that keeping track of what you’re working on is a significant time sink.

And they are correct.

Keeping track of anything takes time and effort.

If you really want to know how your firm is going, for instance, you must measure sales and costs, which takes time and work. Indeed, you can increase your productivity by not keeping track of how much money you make, but no one criticizes since the work is well worth it.

It’s also important to keep track of what you’re working on. There is no getting past the fact that it takes time.

However, if the value of obtaining data surpasses the loss of productivity, it’s acceptable.

It’s a reasonable trade-off: you’re giving up a little productivity now in exchange for business information that will benefit your company in the long run.

  • People’s reactions: Tracking makes you feel watched and anxious.

When it comes to the time tracking system, it’s less about what people say and more about how they feel. If you can handle your team’s emotional issues, the biggest roadblock to adoption will be removed.

  • Fear is at the root of the issue: how will management use the data?

You would be worried if anyone told you that you had to account for every second you spent at work.

You would be concerned about how others would perceive your break time, judge you for spending two hours per day on mails and talk on the phone, and wonder why a project took three days.

Unreasonable expectations are another issue. In an 8-hour workday, the average office worker is productive for only 3 hours.

The remaining time is spent on breaks, catching up with coworkers, reading newspapers, messaging, snacking, and so on.

The truth is that no one can be active 100% of the time. Even the most productive managers or developers can only manage 12 hours of sincere productive work per week.

The problem is that most individuals believe management is unconcerned about this.

They only care about figures, and if they can grab more work hours, they’ll start enforcing harsher rules, firing poor performers, and increasing work – related stress – at least, that’s what some think time monitoring will bring.

People also worry that time tracking may force them to work at an unsustainable rate, suffocating creativity and companionship.

If you have to keep track of every minute of your day, you’ll think twice about checking social media, helping a coworker, taking a break, or doing anything else that energizes you and gives you joy and relief.


If management has access to the figures, everything will focus around who has registered the most labor hours, rather than what was done previously and how.

  • The most difficult aspect of employee time tracking software is getting people to feel comfortable with it.

When we’re afraid, it’s easier to close our mouths and refuse (or even undermine) time tracking than it is to go ahead and do it.

That is why, when it comes to pushing people to keep track of time, the most crucial factor is trust.

You won’t acquire reliable company data if people don’t trust you. And if you want to be trusted, you must be willing to provide it.

Advice on how to motivate individuals to keep track of their time.

  • Justify your reasoning.

First and foremost, appeal to people’s reasoning side. You must explain why kids need to keep track of time and why it is crucial.

In some industries, time monitoring is practically a way to make money (for instance, employees are compensated by the hour, or clients are billed by the hour).

If you have a legal or contractual obligation to track hours (for example, if you get government support), all you have to do is explain the legal implications.

When you are managing fixed-price projects, explain how you need to know project profitability to ensure your firm’s success, as well as how it will benefit employees directly (e.g. increasing salaries of employees or hiring new teammates).

  • Provide emotional support.

People must understand that you do not wish to directly supervise who does what.

You’ll need to explain to your staff that a time tracking tool isn’t about spying on them, punishing those who take too many breaks, or establishing unrealistic expectations.

It’s simply a matter of keeping track of where your time goes and allocating less of it to non-profitable endeavors.

Making someone feel guilty is the last thing you want to do.

Give trust in order to build trust. Allow people to choose whether they want to track time with a timer or manually enter time at the end of the day.

Allowing people to self-report their working hours gives them power. You alleviate worry and distrust by giving them control.

  • Make it as simple and convenient as possible.

The simpler it is to keep track of time, the more probable it is that individuals will do so.

Allow people to track time from anywhere, whether it’s on their phone, desktop, browser, or within other apps. Allow someone to log the time after the fact if they forgot to start the timer.

Also, keep the amount of data required to a bare minimum. Most of the time, you don’t need a thesis on everything someone did in one hour or an extremely detailed journal with 100 different activities every day. The less data you need, the less energy time tracking will consume.

  • Set up recurring reminders.

Set an automated reminder if anybody forgets to log their time for the previous day, so they get a nice notification following morning alerting them to log their missing hours.

  • Assist each employee with basic setup.

When you don’t grasp how anything works, it’s annoying.

It is critical to properly train staff in order to successfully deploy new time tracking tools and make them enjoyable.

All staff should receive instruction on how to use the time tracking software. Let employees ask questions after you provide a presentation about the setup process.

  • Follow up  and ask for feedback

Try to check in with them after everyone has been set up to see how the process is running.

Many people will provide suggestions on how to make the process go more smoothly, which will aid in the adoption process. The easier it is for your team to keep track of time, the more likely they will continue to do so.

This is also an excellent opportunity to establish trust by demonstrating to your staff that you value their input and are committed to making the process better for everyone.

  • Transparency of data

Sharing time tracking data and letting people know who works on what is an excellent approach to develop trust and drive individuals to track time, unless they are working on private projects.

  • Have clear instructions on how to keep track of time.

People will be perplexed on how their time records should be formatted while tracking time.

Is it necessary for them to be extremely detailed?

Is it sufficient to simply categorize it by project?

Or how do you classify a specific activity X?

People must monitor time under the relevant project in order for reports to be useful. So, come up with a simple system so that folks don’t have to waste time figuring out what goes where.

There’s nothing more difficult than deciding whether to label an email response as “Communication” or “Project X.”

Additionally, people should be able to start a timer with a single click for commonly tracked activities (“answer emails”, “meet with client, etc.). You can easily rename activities at a later date.

Once you’ve devised a system, record it and make it available to others. Outline who is responsible for keeping track of time and how, what projects and tags should be used when, and what the rules are for late submissions or incorrectly tagged data.

Having a central location where individuals can check if they’re doing things correctly and a single source of truth is beneficial to productivity and eliminates confusion. It’s also a terrific tool for new employees to use during their onboarding process.

  • Don’t use data against employees

Tracked hours should not be used to punish or reward people. In that case, people would start gaming the system, tracking their hours even when they are not working, and overall the data accuracy would be lost.

Also, don’t value work by how many hours it takes, but by how much is achieved. After all, someone who stays overtime doesn’t accomplish more than someone who works 8 hours a day.

Using time monitoring figures as discussion starters rather than quotas is the best way to use them with people when talking. Penalties will be imposed if you fail to meet your quota. Conversely, a conversation starter provides a chance to discuss what your team needs.


It can be tough to persuade staff to keep track of their time.

Nonetheless, use these pointers to encourage your staff to keep track of their time and make the changeover as smooth as possible.

It may take some trial and error, and you may encounter some resistance, but once your team gets into the habit of measuring time, you’ll be astonished at how much they’ve improved.

And, of course, a lot of it boils down to selecting the right employee time tracking software . If you’d like to learn more about how UBS can assist your team get up to speed with time tracking, you can book a free demo or contact us.

Alpesh Vaghasiya

Alpesh Vaghasiya

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