How to Engage the Time Tracker Slacker

In a wide variety of industries, tracking how employees spend time is important for a wide variety of reasons.

bad time tracking
Something is wrong if your full-time employee’s time tracking looks like this.

For example, organizations that bill their clients on an hourly basis—law and consulting firms—have to be very careful about tracking all of their time, or their billing will be inaccurate. Nonprofits and service organizations whose funding is tied to specific tasks also have to be careful to closely monitor where they dedicate their resources, and nearly every other type of business could benefit from knowing where employees spend the bulk of their time, so that they can work to automate the most time-expensive tasks.

Unfortunately, employees don’t always appreciate the benefits of tracking time, and can resent the process, forget to do it, or even misrepresent how they actually spend their time. If you want to help your own “time tracker slacker” improve their performance, you should understand their motivations, approach them in an appropriate manner, and make sure to follow-up until things improve.

Motivation Behind the Slacking

Before approaching your slacker tracker employee, it is useful to do a little “field research.” Ask yourself this series of questions to get closer to the core of the problem:

  • Is this a new (or relatively new) behavior?
  • Is the problem isolated to one employee, or spread across the team?
  • Could the employee be burned out? When was their last vacation? Most recent overtime?
  • Are you aware of any life factors that could be playing a role (eg. health, family, finances)?

The more you know, the more prepared you’ll be when you go to address the problem and propose solutions. If you expect a confrontation or are unsure whether some of your knowledge about the employee is relevant or appropriate to mention, make sure to consult with an expert before you act.

The Talk

Once the information has been vetted, schedule a time to chat with the employee. If you’re bringing it up for the first time, your initial conversation should be as non-confrontational as possible while at the same time conveying concern for both the employee and the poor work patterns. Scheduling the meeting ahead of time is a good way to convey its seriousness.

Honesty is the best policy in almost every situation, and this one is no exception. Be direct, clearly convey why time tracking is important for your organization, let the employee know that you’ll be monitoring their tracking more closely, and ask if there’s anything you can do to help them keep up with it.

Any one-on-one with an employee is a great opportunity to refresh their larger employment scenario—think of it as a mini performance review. Consider asking questions like “What job is your ideal job?”; “What were your other jobs like and what motivated you there?”; and “What would be the perfect motivator for you at this job?”

The Conclusion

Once the initial conversation concludes, let the employee know that you’ll follow-up in a few weeks. But even after that period, continue to monitor them through your time tracking software, and let them know that you’re doing it. One study conducted by DeskTime showed that when workers and employees believe that they’re being monitored, their productivity increases up to 30 percent.

When you combine active problem solving with supervision, recognition and rewards, you can engage your time tracker slackers and get them back on track with great work habits.

Log in or sign up for TribeHR today to start using an easier time tracking solution. Find the TribeHR time tracking tool in your Company Calendar tab.


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