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5 Tips to Track Time and Protect Privacy

Many employees feel time tracking violates their right to privacy, yet every workplace needs this powerful business tool. How do you convince your employees you’re not spying on them?

Technology is a double-edged sword. Take nuclear energy. It’s a clean source of power that can provide electricity to millions. It can also be a weapon of mass destruction. Same goes for time-tracking software.

Workplaces using time tracking report a significant boost in productivity. It also enables CEOs and managers to identify the most profitable areas of their business (time spent vs earnings) and weed out underperforming projects.

Putting a time-tracking system in place should be a no-brainer, but despite the many advantages, one thing’s consistently prevented businesses from adopting such a system — employee privacy.

The Fear: Time Tracking = Spying

This is a valid concern. No one wants to work in a place where managers are breathing down their necks and watching their every move. It’s demoralizing and alienating. It also creates a culture of mistrust.

Many employees could assume time tracking is just the first step to other monitoring protocols. They fear that more drastic systems could violate their privacy at work.

So before rolling out a time-tracking policy, business owners, HR managers, and payroll managers must prove that employee privacy will not be breached.

How? Here are a few tips:

1. Get Consent

According to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, almost all forms of employee monitoring are legal with consent. Create forms that enumerate terms and conditions of the system you’re going to implement. Make sure that your employees understand each provision before signing the form.

2. Be Transparent

Here’s an interesting finding from recent research conducted by security solutions provider Dtex Systems: “77 percent of employed Americans would be less concerned with their employer monitoring their digital activity on personal or work-issued devices they use to conduct work, as long as they are transparent about it and let them know up front.”

On the flipside, the research also found that “70 percent of employed Americans would consider leaving an employer if they found out that the employer was monitoring their digital activities on personal or work-issued devices they use to conduct work without telling them up front.”

Withholding information is a sure way to lose your employees’ trust and create stronger resistance to time tracking. To become 100 percent transparent, be sure to answer the following questions:

  • What time-tracking system are you using and how does it work?
  • What activities are you going to track and on what devices?
  • How are you going to use the data you will collect?

3. Use the Right Software

Not all time-tracking software is created equal. There are apps that collect minimal data and there are those that are really intrusive.

Selecting the right software for your business isn’t so much about features, but the readiness and levels of acceptance. For example, your employees could see no issue with internet and app-usage monitoring, but could be averse to email tracking and desktop screenshots. Of course, transparency plays a key role, and once again, you need to reassure employees these features will be used solely to help make more intelligent business decisions.

If you don’t have time-tracking software yet, it’s not a bad idea to involve your employees in the selection process. Get the pulse of the workplace. By doing this, you’ll be able to gauge employees’ level of acceptance of which monitoring features have been suggested.

4. Incentivize Time Tracking

Your employees might be thinking, “What’s in it for me?” True enough, many employees will see time tracking as solely beneficial to the company, some may see it as a burden.

You can change this negative narrative. Reward your employees by adhering to and supporting your time-tracking initiatives. Here are some ideas:

  1. Since you are tracking their time from company-issued devices, incentivize employees by allowing them to work from home for a few days within a certain time period.
  2. Give financial or material incentives to employees who complete projects ahead of time.
  3. Implement a points-earning system for punctuality, enthusiasm, and accuracy.

Make time tracking a positive experience for your employees and you will see better adherence and a greater level of support.

5. Ask for Feedback

Feedback is necessary for company policies prone to creating tension among employees. Time tracking is one of these.

Regularly ask employees for input and opinions about the system you have in place. An open line of communication will make your employees feel any grievances will be welcomed and taken into consideration. It fosters a culture of trust, which minimizes employees feeling they are being spied on.

Let Your Ethics Guide You

At the end of the day, privacy breach is going to be a major concern among employees. It’s important every business owner is guided by workplace ethics and know when things are bordering on privacy breach.Following the tips above can help you appease your employees, and assure them that their privacy rights will be protected.

Dean Mathews

Dean Mathews

Dean Mathews is the founder and CEO of OnTheClock, an online time clock app that helps over 8000 businesses all around the world track their employee time.

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