Should you track your employees’ productivity by hours worked or tasks completed?

How many times have you sat in a slump on a Friday afternoon and decided to leave your work until Monday morning? Or swapped doing an important task for visiting the water cooler again?

The truth is, procrastination affects the best of us. The impact procrastination can have on your small or growing business is great; after all, tasks are never completed by avoiding them or simply sitting there. Harnessing your employee’s productivity has the power to change the way your business functions, as well as the way your employee’s feel about their work and mental health. Many businesses choose to track productivity by the amount of hours worked. Although this is simple, it can incentivise procrastination and have the runoff effect that employee’s often feel devalued. It also must be stated, that just because a worker works longer, does not mean they will get the same amount of work done as someone who worked less hours which is another important thing to consider.

By measuring productivity by tasks completed, procrastination is reduced and everyone feels like they are contributing more- however this technique carries with it cons as well. Productivity apps and productivity software can help any team leader or employer track the amount of time employees spend on tasks or work in general. Harnessing your employees’ productivity is incredibly important for the development of any small and growing business; utilizing time tracking tools to measure productivity is the first key step- but it is critical to know first what you should measure.

How can productivity improve a workplace?

No matter how you measure productivity, everyone can agree that achieving peak productivity is undoubtedly a good thing, both for businesses and individuals. Employee’s who are engaged in their performance produce not only higher-quality work but also really enjoy their work, which helps lead to a healthier and happier workplace. Tracking productivity is thus incredibly important for figuring out the “mental state” of your workplace and team.

Mobilizing your team’s productivity can improve your workplace in several different ways. Individuals and teams may become more motivated, leading to a positive workplace culture where people genuinely appreciate their work. Tasks that once were viewed as difficult and dreary will be tackled with enthusiasm, and at the end of the day (and week!) everyone will feel as though they have made a real difference. Motivating employees can take many different forms, but measuring this motivation as productivity is also important. There are two main ways in which you can measure motivation/productivity- either by hours worked or tasks completed. Let’s start by measuring it by hours worked.

Tracking productivity by hours worked

How can you track employee hours?

Tracking an employee’s hours is a typical technique of measuring productivity; perhaps because hours can be tracked easily by using time tracking. Time tracking software allows employees to record time spent on tasks or projects. Employee hours time tracking can also be undertaken by team leaders so they can figure out where an employee’s individual strengths and weaknesses lie and delegate them tasks accordingly. Time tracking apps such as MinuteDock use some of the best software around to make time tracking easy and enjoyable. Features of MinuteDock’s time tracking software include the ability to track time by project, client or task, to fill out timesheets in one go, to switch tasks seamlessly with Redock, and to track time on your iPhone or Android device. This way of tracking productivity can bring you and your business many benefits, but it has its cons as well.

Pros and Cons of tracking hours

Measuring productivity by tracking the amount of hours an employee works is very simple. Time tracking apps can do most of the work for you, and it is easy to work out where productivity increases. Generally speaking, it can be assumed that the person who works more hours overall is more productive than the person who works less; this goes for hours spent on specific tasks or clients and more. Measuring productivity by tracking the amount of hours worked means that it is simple to identify who needs help completing a specific task, and who is working overtime and is thus being more productive. Unfortunately, this means that time drains such as procrastination, unplanned disruptions like meetings, time spent replying to emails and more are all built into the “productive time” of hours worked.

Measuring productivity by tracking hours worked additionally has a detrimental effect on well-meaning employee’s. Working overtime to achieve “productivity” may lead to mental health issues and means that employees will often feel burnt out and stressed out, all of which ironically harms productivity. Additionally, according to research conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the US, the average office worker spends only 39% of the workday on actual work. Measuring productivity by tracking the amount of hours worked then, does not really show an accurate level of productivity. Tracking productivity by tasks completed can be an alternate way of measuring productivity that works well with time tracking apps such as MinuteDock.

Understanding Productivity: More Than Just Hours on the Clock

The traditional approach to measuring productivity by the number of hours worked is increasingly seen as outdated. It's essential to recognize that long hours at the desk do not necessarily translate into effective work. A shift in perspective may be useful: looking from hours worked to tasks completed, could offer a more accurate measure of true productivity.

But even in this context, time tracking apps like MinuteDock emerge as vital tools. These applications provide a nuanced understanding of how time is spent in your business, enabling you to make informed decisions about resource allocation and task management.

Ultimately, the best way of tracking productivity takes a combination not only of hours worked, but also considers the output of those hours - what tasks were performed and how much work was completed in those hours can allow managers to assess the costs of work completed, and the opportunity cost of time spent on one task over another.

It isn't enough to just record hours spent working - using a dedicated time tracking tool will let you keep detailed records on what you are doing with those hours!

Tracking productivity by tasks completed

How can you track tasks completed

Tracking tasks completed can seem more difficult than simply tracking hours worked, and this is because it is! But only slightly- and apps like MinuteDock make it effortless and easy. The amount of time spent on a task can be tracked by job management software, which often lets you track time by project or task. If you or your team have multiple tasks to work on, then some time tracking apps like MinuteDock allow you to toggle quickly between tasks, so that you can track time seamlessly. Timesheets for different tasks can additionally be filled out easily by utilizing a smart keyboard-based entry that makes adding a list of time entries take no time at all. Although it’s not quite as simple as setting a timer and waiting for an employees amount of hours to be up, tracking time by tasks completed has many benefits.

Pros and Cons of tracking tasks

Measuring productivity by tracking tasks completed has its own pros and cons. The biggest plus is that unnecessary distractions such as disruptive tools, procrastination, trips away from the desk (or office!) and unplanned tasks are all eliminated when productivity is measured by tracking the amount of hours spent on a task. This additionally means that employee’s can work out where most of their unnecessary distractions are coming from, and work on rectifying them in order to finish tasks quicker and thus become more productive. Tracking tasks also has the additional benefit that you can work out exactly which tasks take longer, giving you more valuable insight into how time is spent; employee’s can be matched with tasks that you think they can achieve, which means that no one gets stuck spending twelve hours in the office trying to complete a hopeless project.

Measuring productivity by tracking the amount of tasks completed and the time it takes to complete them does however have some negatives. Employee’s may firstly be unhappy that they have to be monitored more closely, and it will take slightly longer to sift through the data to work out what tasks take up more time. Distractions such as meetings, time spent replying to emails and more can make it hard to measure productivity, and means that some employees may be shown to be less productive than they actually are, which could lead to ill feeling throughout a team.

So how should productivity be measured?

These negatives associated with measuring productivity by tracking the amount of tasks completed are however small compared to the overarching positives. It simply is not viable to continue to measure productivity only by hours worked; after all, we live in a world of constant distractions. Employees can feel devalued and demotivated by having a lack of goals or clear ending; giving them tasks and measuring their productivity by tracking completion of these tasks helps to eliminate this demotivation. Time tracking apps means that it is now just as simple to track the amount of time spent on tasks as it is to simply track the amount of hours worked. Employee time tracking software offers employers and team leaders the chance to harness their teams motivation and change the way their business is run.

How can you improve efficiency in the workplace?

Efficiency in the workplace can be increased in several ways- and some of these ways are easier than you might think! Even the process of simply tracking the amount of time spent on projects and tasks can incentivise employees to work harder and achieve personal/company goals. Creating viable goals and KPIs can additionally help increase motivation among employees and create friendly competition between individuals and teams. Reducing multitasking and unnecessary distractions such as endless meetings and email chains helps make every workplace more efficient by allowing employees to focus on the things that matter.

Finally, fostering an encouraging and friendly work environment is key to improving efficiency; positive communication between employees means that problems can be solved quickly and that they are often actively eager to work; this eagerness directly impacts productivity positively. In the 21st century, people are what matter in making businesses great; time tracking and harnessing employees’ productivity can change the way that your business develops.

Want to learn more about MinuteDock?

We've built the best easy to use time tracking software for individuals and teams.

Try for FreeLearn More

Other articles that might spark your interest...