Spring is in the air—and it wouldn’t be spring without spring cleaning. While we may think of our homes, garages and sheds as likely candidates, we may not be as quick to look at our time tracking routine. However, especially in a corporate environment, sprucing up the time tracking routine can be an invaluable asset to the company and can even be used as a morale booster.
Here are five tips that can help you and your company get your spring cleaning off on the right foot.
Limit the Choices on Timesheets and Data Entry
One of the biggest mistakes companies make when designing their data collection system is making it too granular. They put in categories for every possible thing with the resulting categories numbering in the hundreds, or even thousands. While granular may work well for accountants, it rarely works for general employees. The end result is employees who become frustrated at the complexity of entering their time and so they simply don’t do it.
The solution? Limit the number of categories. Determine what data you really need and, just as importantly, what data you don’t. Once you know that, you can streamline the process to the bare essentials and make sure the act of data entry isn’t interfering with proper data collection.
Explain Why It’s Important to Collect This Data
It’s that those born after 1980, or Gen-Y, “will form 75% of the workforce by 2025.” For many managers that poses a significant dilemma in terms of management style, since usual motivators that have worked for decades in a business environment don’t necessarily work with Gen-Y, or Gen-X for that matter. Why?
“They saw their parents married to the workplace, often devoting long hours to factories, the office or on the road,” writes Dr. David G. Javitch for Entrepreneur. “Their parents sacrificed time at home with their families. In the economic downturn of the 1980s, many of these hard workers lost their jobs.
The result? The Gen X or Y kids learned to become more pragmatic and were often disillusioned with the lack of work/life balance in their home. In addition, they often looked askance at the lack of loyalty by employers to their employees.”
When it comes to asking Gen-X and Gen-Y employees to do something they may be inclined to view negatively, like keeping track of their time, it’s important to explain why. Help them to see that tracking time is not about being “Big Brother,” but about helping the company to be more profitable. Greater profitability, in turn, leads to raises, greater stability and long-term benefit for everyone involved. Help your employees to be as invested in time tracking as you are by explaining the why.
Train Employees to Fill Out Timesheets Daily
One of the biggest mistakes employees make is waiting till the end of the week to fill out their timesheet. How many people can remember what they ate for breakfast two or three days ago, let alone account for minute details of their work routine?
AffinityLive, a professional services automation company, to see how much money is lost as a result of lost billable hours. The result? They estimated that poor time tracking methods led to $110,000 in lost annual revenue for the average professional services firm.
“To help evaluate the impact of manual time tracking, AffinityLive surveyed over 500 IT, digital & creative, engineering, legal, accounting and public relations professionals and found that the top reason professionals have poor time tracking habits is because it’s so cumbersome to do.
Due to lack of technological advancement and poor habits in time tracking, AffinityLive found that 51 percent of respondents rarely or never track time spent reading and answering emails, and 28 percent said the same for meetings.”
Encourage Managers to Run Reports and Look at Data Frequently
It’s one thing to train employees to enter data daily, but it’s another to actually use it. To get the most out of those daily timesheet entries, managers must be running reports frequently and analyzing the data. Doing so can help managers spot trends, catch mistakes and identify employees whose efforts deserve commendation.
Recognize Those Who Enter Their Data On Time
One final way to spruce up your time tracking is through positive reinforcement. Many companies have an “Employee of the Month” wall where the best employees receive recognition for their hard work. Why not do the same for those who turn their timesheets in on time? Each month you could post the top five individuals who were first to get their timesheets turned in.
As an added benefit, it’s a great way to give recognition and additional motivation to employees who have never been “Employee of the Month.” By having a method in place to recognize individuals for a relatively easy task, it not only can be a positive source of encouragement, but a motivator to accomplish even more.
We all need to do some spring cleaning from time to time, and our time tracking procedures are no exception. Applying these five steps can go a long way toward increasing your company’s profitability and your employees’ happiness.