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How Can You Motivate Employees to Track Time?

5 min read

Accurate time tracking is an important element for the smooth functioning of field businesses. There is a general trend of resistance from employees to track time. This makes employees unlikely to accurately or consistently track their time. The implications for businesses, regardless of size, are significant. However, these challenges can be effectively addressed with a well-defined strategy for accurate time tracking implementation.

According to research by the Harvard Business Review, the U.S. economy experiences a daily loss of $7.4 billion in productivity due to workers failing to record their hours. 

Time tracking is not a favorite activity for many employees. As a manager, it is your responsibility to implement processes and platforms that make it beneficial for team members and the organization.

Inaccurate time tracking not only costs companies money but also leads to managers spending valuable time chasing after late timesheets. Timesheet reminders may not be enough as there are many reasons behind employees forgetting or choosing not to track their time. 

Unfortunately, this makes some managers abandon time tracking altogether, attributing the issues to the software or the practice itself. Often, such situations leave managers with a question- how to get employees to track time?

This issue is part of a broader conversation about workplace ethics and culture. In this blog, we will discuss a few tips that can motivate employees to track time and adopt time-tracking practices.

Why is There a Resistance to Track Time?

Several factors contribute to employees’ resistance to track time, such as the following:

Perception of Tediousness:

For many employees, filling out timesheets feels like a time-consuming task, diverting them from their primary responsibilities. The solution is effective communication and onboarding to help employees recognize that time tracking is an integral part of their job, not a separate burden.

Perceived Intrusiveness:

Logging hours can seem intrusive, leading to feelings of micromanagement and privacy violation. This is often fueled by a lack of understanding about how the data will be used. Transparency about the purpose and benefits of time tracking can dispel these concerns.

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Fear of Unrealistic Expectations:

Employees may fear that time tracking data will be used to set unrealistic expectations, creating a faster-paced work environment and causing stress. Lack of transparency in processes can contribute to these negative perceptions and harm company culture.

Errors and Inaccuracies:

A systematic issue with time tracking is the tendency for people to fill timesheets at the end of the week or month, leading to inaccuracies and errors. Manual or paper-based tracking increases the likelihood of mistakes that affect their pay, especially in cases of overtime.

How Can You Motivate Your Employees to Track Time?

Clearly articulate the purpose behind time tracking

When implementing any new change, effective communication is necessary. It is crucial to emphasize the purpose and value of time tracking to your team. Without a clear understanding of the benefits time tracking has for them, employees are unlikely to be motivated to track their time.

It’s important to convey that time tracking is not a form of surveillance. Your company may utilize time tracking to facilitate contractor payments, identify project inefficiencies, assess labor costs, recognize workload disparities among employees, reallocate resources, or improve budgeting precision. Whatever the specific objectives may be, openly share them with your team. Involve them in the collective effort to achieve the company’s goals.

Set clear policies

Establish policies and guidelines regarding time tracking to ensure clarity and compliance. Communicate upfront the expectation for employees to clock in and clock out punctually and outline the repercussions for non-compliance. You can also specify the frequency of submissions. It can be daily, weekly, or monthly, and define the number of reminders or “strikes” allowed before escalation to a manager.

Consider treating time tracking as a formal job responsibility by incorporating it into written agreements or employment contracts. Clearly defined guidelines will facilitate smoother enforcement and resolution of issues in the future. Ambiguity in time tracking expectations can result in employees not taking their responsibilities seriously.

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Make time tracking as easy as possible

Simplify the process to track time by adopting a seamless method. In the case of a time tracking app, conduct training sessions to demonstrate the exact procedure for logging hours and the applicable devices.

The key is to integrate the time tracking system seamlessly into your company’s workflows to avoid disruptions. Adopt a time tracking software that is simple with a less time-consuming process. Automation is crucial, and utilizing an employee time tracking app can greatly facilitate this.

Implementing a reliable time tracking software streamlines the logging of hours. Employees can easily activate the timer with a single tap when starting work and deactivate it when finished. The flexibility of accessing the app from desktops, web interfaces, or mobile devices enhances convenience, especially for field employees.

Guide your employees as they learn how to use the timesheet

Oversee the learning process for your employees as they adapt to the time tracking software. Providing guidance, and arranging for a training session, either in person or through video tutorials can smoothen the process. Even with user-friendly tools, a basic overview can eliminate potential barriers to adoption. Skipping this step may result in frustration, wasted time, and incomplete timesheets later on.

Furthermore, you can consider a phased approach based on the company’s size by introducing the software to one team at a time. This allows for addressing questions, identifying challenges, and resolving issues before implementing the tool across the entire company. For instance, you might start by having only the HR or IT team use the tool for the initial month. 

Send automatic timesheet reminders

A reminder to submit time sheets or punch ins is a good practice so that employees can develop the habit. Ensure timely punch ins by using automated reminders. Most time tracking software has the feature to schedule automated reminder emails at daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly intervals. These reminders specifically target employees who have not yet submitted their punches for the designated period. 

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Whichever method you choose, implementing this measure helps maintain accountability within your team.

Be open for two-way communication

Encourage open communication by inviting employees to provide feedback on the time tracking process. By allowing them to contribute their insights, they will feel a stronger connection and a greater willingness to engage in the process.

Fostering a sense of collaboration helps employees view time tracking as something they actively want to be part of, rather than a directive imposed on them. Your staff’s input is invaluable for refining the time tracking system within your company, as they are the ones directly using it and are best aware of what works and what doesn’t. 

Gather their suggestions and concerns through meetings or online surveys, and establish regular group meetings to discuss and evolve your time tracking policy based on their input.


Successful employee adoption of time tracking requires a strategic and empathetic approach from managers. Clear communication about the purpose and benefits of time tracking is essential to dispel any inhibitions about time tracking. User-friendly tools and systems can make the time tracking experience less burdensome.

Furthermore, managers should actively seek two-way communication, encouraging employees to provide feedback and addressing concerns promptly. To overcome resistance, managers should address common pain points and also mention the benefits employees get from tracking their time.

A positive organizational culture is crucial to motivate employees to track time. By considering the challenges and implementing strategies, managers can pave the way for a seamless integration of time tracking practices.

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