Is Time Tracking Bad for Your Team?

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 18/03/2024

Most employees are opposed to time tracking. In this article, we will explore why many perceive it as a negative, if it’s truly not the right approach for some teams and how to bust the myths surrounding it. 

Workplace time tracking has a rather bad reputation, especially among employees. But is it really as bad as it’s believed to be? Without a doubt, there are companies using it for embedding not-so-ethical policies, but does that mean time tracking is overall a bad practice? We don’t believe so. In our understanding, every approach can be either highly beneficial or morale-crushing. It all depends on what purposes it fulfils and how you choose to use it. Time tracking is one of them. 

In this article, we will try and help you understand how to address the stereotype that time tracking is bad. We also hope to help you determine your team’s readiness to adopt it as a tool, as well as share a couple of tips on how to prime them to it. But first, let’s quickly discuss why is it causing issues in the first place. 

Why Do Employees Hate Time Tracking?

There are several reasons why workers are opposed to time tracking. Here are the main ones:

  • It makes them feel they are not trusted;

  • It is seen as micromanagement;

  • It raises concerns they are being watched for potential mistakes;

  • It feels as if it’s dictating their workflow

  • It is a threat to their flexibility 

While none of these concerns are unfounded, very often they only exist in the employee’s head. If you’re, indeed, not confirming any of them, it’s time to prove that to them. How do you begin changing their perception? Well...

It Starts With You

Before you can start working on your team’s perception of time tracking, you need to understand it fully yourself. It may sound like a simple concept, but employers having the wrong idea about its true potential is what leads to it being misused. There is an easy way to ensure you don’t fall into that trap. Simply follow the two steps explained below. 

Understand and Define Your Goals

As with many things in business, the decision to start tracking time must begin with a why. There are many benefits to be reaped from it, but for each company, they will be different. If your main goal is to have better control of your team and their productivity, however, time tracking is not for you. At first glance, it may come off as a perfect solution, but that’s exactly the misuse that gives it a bad reputation. A time tracking tool is not meant for team management, period. 

So, what other purposes could it serve? Time tracking is great for easing the general workload of your teams, providing them with the flexibility to shift their tasks around. It can be great for project management, especially when reporting progress or coming up with a forecast. Tracking time will also highlight potential gaps in your processes, allowing you to start addressing them at once. Overall, time tracking is a great way to improve your overall business. But how exactly you will use it will depend solely on what you’re trying to achieve. 

Don’t Try Solving Problems You Don’t Have

This should be the rule of thumb, but we understand how tempting it is to try and get the most out of a new tool. Especially one as powerful as a time-tracking solution. However, if your team has no issues in areas such as attendance, you should just let it be. Nothing gives off an impression of micromanagement stronger than suddenly getting preoccupied with fixing things that were never broken. Just because you now have access to them doesn’t mean you should.

Now while surely every business has weak spots, time tracking might not be necessarily addressing yours. So, why would you need a solution that isn’t solving your problems? Simple. Time tracking is a great way to optimise your existing, potentially fully functional, processes for better efficiency. Introducing it to your workflows doesn’t mean they need fixing nor you should try doing so. Instead, it can help you better them, make them smoother and ultimately make your team’s lives easier. Prioritise this approach over obsessing about fixing the non-existent problems and your company will flourish. 

Communication Saves the Day

Now that you are in the right mindset, it’s time to bring your team along. The worst thing you can do is enforce time tracking without discussing it prior. While it’s quicker, it’s not exactly efficient. So don’t cut corners and instead rely on communication. 

Hear Out Your Team’s Concerns

And by that, we don’t mean let them talk for the sake of looking like you care. You need to hear and take into consideration what’s being said. The reason time tracking has a bad reputation isn’t solely due to a track record of companies misusing it. A much bigger factor is a simple misunderstanding of its purposes. Thankfully, the latter is easily solved once you understand where it stems from. 

It’s important not to get overly defensive or dismissive over what your team has to say, even if their concerns are baseless. Instead, approach the matter with empathy. While this may seem small to you, it is likely causing a lot of anxiety to your workers and should therefore be respected. Alleviating these anxieties is crucial to change their point of view. Luckily, there is a relatively easy and effective way to do so.

Shift Focus to Their Needs

Humans are wired to be seeking for convenience. We naturally become more accepting of things when we recognise their value to us. Understanding this simple concept can help you greatly when it comes to introducing time tracking to your team. If your workers are opposed to it, your primary effort should be communicating to them what benefits will it bring to them.And then you will need to prove that. 

For example, instead of talking about how great time tracking will be for the company’s overall efficiency, highlight the software’s automation features. Namely, ones that are applicable to your workers’ day-to-day processes. Or, you can capitalise on the fact there will be no human error in calculating their pay, especially if you work with differentiating rates - all calculations will be handled by software. All in all, focus on proving them time tracking is not a tool meant to control them - it’s there to make their lives easier.

So, is Time Tracking Good for Your Team Then?

We’ve gone a long way around discussing how to convince your team time tracking is not bad. Naturally, this is us implying that it’s good and all - but is it really? Unfortunately, we cannot answer this for you. 

The Answer is Within Your Team

On its own, time tracking isn’t bad. It’s a handy tool when used correctly, but also a complete bane of the workers’ lives when utilised as a means to control them. In other words, whether it’s good or bad for your team depends on your approach. The team’s perception, your own understanding and ultimately the purpose for which you track time will dictate whether it’s good for your organisation or not.

Ultimately, however, we believe that tracking time is a practice every business should harness. While some approaches only work under certain circumstances, specific industries or in defined settings, time tracking is suitable for everyone. It is flexible and can be adapted to any team, with the extent of its benefits controlled by your use and strategy. However, this is precisely why it can be both good and bad for some teams. Do it wrong and it will bring nothing but trouble and resentment. Nail it and enjoy the new heights for your business to reach.


Time tracking is often perceived as something negative, a way for businesses to gain ultimate control over their workers. While some companies are guilty of using it as a means of micromanagement, it does not define the practice as a whole. In fact, when done right, time tracking is an invaluable tool that can help your team prosper. Before you start implementing it, however, you need to ask yourself what goals will it help you achieve. While it has many uses, team management isn’t one of them. 

From there on, you need to change your team’s mind. You can’t address the concerns unless you hear them out first - so take time to do that. And then, focus on proving to your team that time tracking will work in their favour, not against them. So, to answer the question if time tracking is bad for your team - no. Not if it’s put in place to help them work more efficiently. But it’s certainly harmful if it’s a method to restrict their freedom.

Want to make sure you use time tracking efficiently? Get in touch.

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