Getting Rid of the Psychological Barrier of Time Tracking

For a lot of workers, time tracking has all kinds of negative connotations. 

From technology hassles and paperwork to the nightmare of being micromanaged, the simple fact is that employees don’t like the idea of Big (Office) Brother always watching.

The thing is, time tracking doesn’t have to have all these negative associations. In fact, if implemented right, time tracking is good for everyone in an agency – including employees.

Here are a few of the most common reasons employees are resistant to tracking their time and methods to keep time tracking out of your employees’ personal Room 101s.

Streamline Your Agency’s Time Management

Support your daily workflows with Productive’s simple time tracking and project management features.

Book a demo

Barrier No. 1: It Takes Too Long

One of the most common complaints you’ll hear from employees about time tracking is that it takes too long. Unfortunately, they’re not wrong. 

If you have a system that is outdated and inefficient, like filling out an Excel spreadsheet or paper timesheet, trying to recall and enter times can be unproductive – and, quite frankly, annoying.

Even a digital system can start to feel antiquated and odious after a while.

Investing in a cloud-based product (like the ones offered by Productive) that helps to automate data collection in an efficient, fast, and easy way can solve all your time tracking problems. Push notifications can remind employees to clock in and out in a matter of seconds and your payroll can work more easily and accurately. Ironically, it actually saves time to track time using an updated and more precise system.

Barrier No. 2: It Devalues the Work of Employees

One of the biggest gripes you’ll hear about time tracking is its association with overbearing micromanagers who don’t trust their employees. If you have employees paid by salary, asking them to track time may also make them feel their skills and talents are devalued.

It’s an unfortunate reality that some businesses have used time tracking in this way. When wielded like a tool of control, it only ends up stifling creativity and motivation. But if the right software is used and applied, it can be a boost to profitability, productivity, and creativity in the workplace by helping to identify areas that could be improved.

Before you start tracking the time of your employees, get together and have a talk. Explain how by implementing a new system, their paychecks will be more accurate and how it’ll help the agency stay more profitable by assisting everyone in identifying processes that slow down the flow of work. Frame a new time tracking system as a boon to their creativity instead of a block.

Barrier No. 3: It Kills Morale

The idea of employees feeling micromanaged by a time tracking system needs to be explored a bit more, because it’s one of the biggest psychological barriers of tracking time. Recording billable minutes at every turn does not come naturally to people, especially those who are more creative. For many, tracking billable time becomes a hindrance to their creativity and causes resentment.

No one wants to feel spied on. Having employees feel like Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four is, well, not great to say the least; not for you, your staff or your business as a whole. For many employees, a time tracking system implies that they’re not being trusted to do their jobs correctly – or, in the case of creatives, that their creativity is on a timer. They may start to cut corners, mistakenly believing that they can only devote so much time to certain tasks in their day. 

To get around this barrier, all you have to do is be straight up with the people who work for you. Clearly communicate the benefits of tracking time and explain how the goal is to reduce micromanaging and increase transparency for everyone.
Managers should be very clear about how and when they’ll begin tracking, what information they hope to get out of it, and how they plan to use it. Remember, with great time tracking power comes great time tracking responsibility. Don’t implement it under the cover of night or you’ll simply look shady. Be open and honest and encourage a dialogue about its merits and drawbacks.

Barrier No. 4: It’s Too Complicated

Chances are that your employees have worked with not-so-user-friendly time tracking systems in the past. Many of the systems used by organizations are complicated – too complicated for most employees to use regularly. If a system requires extra time and effort, then employees will only view it as a source of frustration and will want to screen it during your office’s Two Minutes Hate (not all team-building exercises are created equal).

If you want to help your employees over the time-tracking hurdle, make it easy for them. Use a system that feels natural and utilizes processes that are more familiar and friendly to the user. You know, like the products Productive has to offer!

Employee Time Tracking: The Bottom Line

There are always going to be barriers to overcome in the workplace, but there’s no reason not to implement a time tracking system in your agency. Across the board, tracking time reduces costs through streamlining activities, boosting productivity, and increasing transparency. 

If implemented the right way and made easy for everyone, time tracking can be a great way to share information and make your agency a better place to work. The only thing you must remember is to include employees every step of the way. Get them on board and the psychological barriers keeping you from accurate time tracking will be a thing of the past. Even Big Brother can’t argue with that (just don’t tell them we told you, yeah?).

See also: 13 Best Agency Time Tracking Software

Connect With Agency Peers

Access agency-related Slack channels, exchange business insights, and join in on members-only live sessions.

Gabrijela Bosnjak

Senior Business Development Representative

Related articles