Article: The Future of Time Reporting, a way to keep employees more enthusiastic

April 27, 2011

In all organizations it is important to measure the time spent on different activities. This is the base of measuring costs for different activities to be aware of where to make changes for higher efficiency. However, having employees reporting time is also a cost and is often done to please the manager rather than understanding the reason for the time administration.
To make the activities more efficient for the employees and use the information already in the systems, we can get the information we want and still keep up the enthusiasm.

All over the world, in any industry, employees are sometimes complaining about time that needs to be spent on reporting time. It is often seen as a way for managers to control the employees and a way to spend time that is not available.
From an organization’s point of view, time is often recorded to control what the employees are doing, but also to find out how much time is spent on what activities.

Since a lot of employees don’t understand why they are doing the time reporting, they think more of what the manager wants to hear and estimate the time rounded to the nearest half hour. This way they don’t have to put down how much time was spent talking to colleagues by the coffee machine, being connected to Facebook or discuss the evening plans on the phone with their friends.

The main reason why time reporting also feels like something that is useless is that it is common not to follow up by the reports by the management, at least to the knowledge of the employees. This gives even more proof to the employees’ suspicions and makes the activity feel even more useless.

Now, of course this is also depending on what industry you are in and if you should invoice the time to clients. In the case of invoicing the time to clients, employees are more willing to do a good job reporting the time because they see the purpose.

For common work, it is often allowed to have at least 15 minutes of time reporting every day. This means a total cost of 1 fulltime employee for every 32 employees. To transform this into money, it means a total annual cost of $2400 for an employee who has a monthly salary cost of $6400.

So, how can we make time reporting feel more useful to the employees and also help them to have to spend less time on this activity?

The first thing to understand is that people tend to do things quicker if they see a purpose in doing it. This means that if the management team would present the time spent on different activities throughout the organization and also categorize them, at least there is an overview of how long time is spent on things.
Also, if this information is the base of making the work more efficient and that the employees can be part of the discussions on how to make this happening, not only are they part of the decision made, but also see that they need the information from the time management system to be able to make the correct decision.

To be able to have the correct amount of time reported it is also recommended to approve of some time for coffee breaks, social discussions, etc. By also having this category in the Time Management System, the management team will be able to receive more relevant information on how much time that is spent in reality.

This is mostly around how to make employees happier in time reporting. To actually help employees report time in a better way, companies should start more with deviation reporting instead.

The meaning of this is that the work is planned in a lot of systems - Who should do what and when?
By using this information and having the employees report if there are deviations to the normal schedule, not only helps cutting time from the time reporting activities, but also makes time reporting more fun and meaningful.

In a lot of situations, this means that the employees can cut 80% of the normal time reporting and the Time Management Software can then tell the employee that there are activities to approve and gaps in the schedule that are not filled in.

I believe that this type of reporting is more useful and is most likely going to be the future of time management. It will cut costs a lot and keep employees enthusiastic about the work they are doing. With the feeling of being useful to the organization, employees will be able to produce much more and help companies grow even more.