As the digital economy evolves, the methods by which companies measure employee efficiency have become more quantifiable. With the increase in platforms and worker touch-points—the office computer, the remote home office, the smartphone and accompanying apps— employee time tracking can be a huge challenge.
That’s why human resources departments and senior managers should consider the ever-evolving options in employee time tracking software. A seamless, hassle-free employee monitoring system is becoming a best practice in many competitive industries. After all, monitoring worker productivity is a critical benchmark for any employer. It can provide an objective metric for analyzing the efficiency of a project, help identify workflow bottlenecks and spotlight talented staff.
Legality Of Employee Monitoring Systems
For employers in the United States, thanks to the 4th Amendment, laws protecting the right to privacy are considered fundamental rights, you might wonder if employee monitoring systems are legal. In general, U.S. employers can monitor the usage of equipment the company provides, such as employee computers.
While there are no federal laws that require an employer to tell employees that they are being “watched,” it is widely considered a best practice to let workers know when and how they are being monitored. Similarly, it is always advisable to consult a legal expert when planning and implementing employee monitoring systems.
Another important aspect of monitoring your staff involves communicating company policy on appropriate use of company property and the expectations that are set for employees. Are certain websites off limits? Are the forbidden website off limits during employee breaks, such as lunch, as well? Spelling out the rules will make everyone’s life easier—especially when inappropriate usage is identified.
Virtual Employee Time Tracking
Once a rarity, the remote workforce is becoming more and more commonplace among employers. But while high-speed internet access and cloud computing have liberated many companies from traditional tied-to-an-office work structures, a number of challenges remain for managers, human resources departments and employees who work out of the office.
No challenge may be more important than solving the issue of employee time tracking and productivity measurements of remote workers. Obviously, remote workers can’t literally “punch the clock” like factory workers who use timecards in person. The “honor system” of self-tracking creates a host of problems including irresponsible employees taking advantage of employers, and nervous workers under-reporting because they worry about their output.
It’s Good Business
The solution? Installing a employee time tracking software that allows employers and workers to track their work hours is a win-win for everyone involved. For employers, it’s a great way to manage remote workers in different time zones. For employees, having an unbiased employee time tracking system ensures getting paid for an honest day’s —or hour’s—work.
It is important to note that a employee time tracking software isn’t just a virtual attendance sheet. Time-management software solutions are extending time-keeping data in a number of beneficial ways to impact scheduling, payroll execution, and tracking personal time-off.
Best Time Tracking Software
The best time management software offers tracking ability from any worker or manager touch point. These days, it’s not a stretch to suggest some millennial and generation Z employees can work happily on a cell phone. Most other workers are tied to desktops, while many employees on the road love their tablets. No matter who is using what device to start their work, time management software must be open and working when an employee logs on.
Of course, some employees dream of no-show jobs. And working remotely might seem to lend itself to faking hours. So some systems allow employers to ask for photo uploads at sign-in and sign-out as a method to identify workers.
Employee tracker software also should have GPS options to allow employers to know where their employees are anywhere on the globe. It’s another tool to confirm an employee’s identity.
The best attendance monitoring programs also provide a different experience for Human Resources, Accounting and Managers—one that allows these users to look at the incoming records. And just as employees can sign in from any device, employers should have the same flexibility so they can manage and troubleshoot on the go.
Employee Time Tracking Data Overload
Keep in mind, that the goals of monitoring work or installing time-tracking software are about tracking efficiency, ensuring quality, and logging hours for employees who work remotely. Micro-managing or spying on employees is not the goal. While some monitoring software can track key-strokes, and video surveillance means you can zoom in on workers 24/7, collecting too much data on an employee can have negative consequences.
At the risk of stating the obvious, such practices do not create a warm and productive corporate culture, and that is something that can impact job recruiting. Not many people want to work in an atmosphere where their every move is inspected under a microscope. Indeed, massive surveillance may impede some employees who are, say, camera-shy. Most importantly, monitoring the monitors can become a significant black hole for time management or create data gluts.
For example, if you are monitoring every keystroke on a company-wide basis, how do you manage the results? Someone has to define and automate reports, create an alert system and then track alerts and evaluate each result. Sure, the program may help identify employees who are spending too much time working on their dating profile. But what if that employee is usually a super-star? Is it worth bringing up issues that may alienate the worker? What if the tweet was actually promoting the company? So it is always important to not cross an invisible line where the thirst for data to help achieve efficiency becomes inefficient.
Are Timesheets Enough?
To avoid data-crunching chaos from over-zealous tracking, one best practice is to ask your management team for input on what should be tracked. The ultimate question remains — what do we want to find out? If the answer is simply, “the hours people work so we can pay out accurately,” then you are on an easy-street and you can jump to the last section of this article.
But if the answers are more involved, you’ll want to ask a few more questions. A good rule of thumb is to ask, “what time aspect do I want to track and how will it help me?”
If you are unsure how or if it will even help, then you probably don’t need to implement tracking.
If you do decide to implement tracking—because you want to know how many man-hours it takes to finish a project, it is advisable to let your employees know the purpose behind the tracking. When employees are informed, it will allow them to be more invested in improving the project’s productivity and efficiency.
It is also important to not stress your employees out, and it is only natural to connect job productivity with job security. How should you address this reality? Be real, and be logical. Analyzing productivity does not automatically translate into staffing decisions. Most employees have a number of tasks and most sane managers try to match the right people with the right tasks and processes.
In addition to the benefits time management analysis presents to employers, it can also be beneficial to employees. If a certain task is a huge time-suck and is mind-numbingly boring, then identifying that task and automating it will make everyone’s work more efficient.
Back To Basics: Free Time Tracker
The upshot for employers and human resource departments looking for time management and employee monitoring solutions is to start with the basics. Time Clock Wizard, for example, offers a free time tracker version of its software for anyone looking for an introduction into this important business sector. The free version of Time Clock Wizard offers employers a foundation to start experimenting with setting up employee time management software. If you find you want more features to help dig deeper into productivity and performance, analyze your needs after the first month to see if upgrading to a paid version is your solution.
Bottom line is, you want to know when your employees are working, when they are not and you want them paid on time. The odds are you want to run a business, not a police state!
An often repeated bit of wisdom notes that 80% of success in life involves “just showing up.” In business, however, showing up—on time— is vital. That’s why every employer should consider investing in tracking software—and ensure employees are showing up as planned.