Time and attendance software can be misused, like many things. When employers don’t use time tracking correctly or introduce it to employees properly, it’s less likely to be effective in helping achieve your organization’s goals. In fact, it can reduce employee morale and decrease productivity instead of increasing it.
In this article, I will explore six ways that time tracking software can negatively affect companies, and why. From micromanagement to potential privacy concerns and the possibility of discriminatory practices, I will discuss the various challenges that organizations might face when implementing time tracking in the workplace.
Jibble is a time tracking software startup. However, I believe that it’s important to be open and transparent about both the advantages and the disadvantages of time tracking. While time trackers can be beneficial, it’s also important to recognize the possible difficulties that come with using them.
By understanding these potential pitfalls, employers decide whether or not they should use time and attendance software. They’ll also be able to examine the ways they can use this software properly and to the benefit of both the organization and its employees.
Time and attendance software can lead to micromanagement.
While time and attendance software can allow you to accurately track the number of hours your employees have worked, one downside is that it has the potential to lead to micromanagement.
By tracking work hours and activity levels, managers can become unnecessarily involved with the minutiae of employees’ day-to-day tasks. The constant stream of data about employee activities can make it tempting for managers to scrutinize how their employees spend their workdays and question why tasks are taking time to be accomplished.
In addition, managers might end up having to spend more time looking through time tracker reports. This can also impact their own productivity and morale.
Time tracking can be distracting.
Certain time and attendance software products can be quite detailed. Not only can they show employers the number of hours an employee has worked, but they can also show the level of an employee’s activity throughout the day. The software can measure activity levels by counting mouse clicks, scrolls, and the like.
When employees also have to worry about keeping up with certain metrics, it might prevent them from giving their work their full attention. They might not be able to focus on problem-solving or coming up with innovative ideas. Instead, they might get distracted by things like meeting arbitrary deadlines, timing in and out correctly on the time tracking software, and other similar issues.
Time tracking might not accurately portray what an employee does during the workday.
A time tracker will be able to tell you how long an employee spent doing a task, how many hours they worked in a 24-hour period, what time they clocked in and out, and more. However, it won’t be able to give you deeper insight into how your employees accomplished their tasks. It also won’t be able to accurately measure an employee’s productivity and efficiency if managers put too much stock in the time employees spend working.
For example, one employee is a fast worker and can accomplish a significant amount of work in a short amount of time. However, another employee takes more time to finish their work but can still deliver excellent results. Thus, giving too much significance to time tracking can lead managers to unfairly evaluate the performance of their employees.
Employees can feel untrusted and demotivated.
Having their hours and activity levels tracked might make employees feel like there is a lack of trust in their work ethic or their ability to effectively manage their own time. It might feel like being surveilled for the entire workday, which can negatively impact employee morale.
Employees might also worry that their managers will use the data collected by the software to demand a faster working pace and place unreasonable expectations on productivity.
While organizations typically intend to increase productivity by using time tracking software, it can have the opposite effect. If there is more focus on the amount of time spent on tasks rather than the actual work that employees do, employees might then feel like their efforts are not being given due recognition.
Employees might have worries about their privacy.
Privacy is one of the biggest concerns that employees have when using time and attendance software. One particular sore spot is how the data collected by time tracking software is being used and stored. This can be even more of a concern for contractors who use their own devices for both work and personal activities.
Additionally, depending on the time tracker they use, the software can take screen captures of the employees’ computer screens. It can thus take and store images of private messages and documents, as well as other sensitive data. Facial recognition time tracking software can also keep data on employees’ biometrics.
Monitoring time and attendance can lead to discrimination.
Time tracking software can be extremely helpful to businesses when used properly. However, it also has the potential for workplace discrimination. If an employee has a disability, for example, they might have to take more time to finish tasks.
Time tracking is legal in the US, but using time and attendance software and other similar AI tools that help evaluate performance can put employers at risk of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Thus, managers need to ensure that they are monitoring their employees equitably and fairly.
Employers can refer to The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Use of Software, Algorithms, and Artificial Intelligence to Assess Job Applicants and Employees, a document by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This can guide employers on how to correctly use time trackers and other tools without discriminating against employees with disabilities.
What are the benefits of time tracking software?
Here are some possible benefits of using time and attendance software:
- Improving productivity: When used correctly, time and attendance software can help identify areas of improvement that can help improve efficiency.
- Refining decision-making: Tracking time can help organizations make better and more effective decisions about allocating resources and improving processes.
- Ensuring accurate billing: Time trackers can help employers ensure that employees are paid correctly, while also gaining valuable insight into employee productivity.
- Improving communication within teams: Time tracking software data can help employees and managers communicate better about the attainability of deadlines and goals.
Employers can minimize resistance to time tracking software by building trust with their employees. Being honest and transparent about the usage of the software can help employees be more open and comfortable. It’s also important to make sure that the implementation of time tracking is fair and equitable to all employees, especially those with disabilities.
Additionally, employers should introduce time tracking and all related practices properly to all employees, including those in managerial positions. This can help prevent issues such as micromanagement, privacy concerns, demoralization, and more. Ultimately, time and attendance software can be valuable and powerful when utilized responsibly and ethically.