Around this same time in 2016, Sports Direct faced an inquiry for violating minimum wage laws. Facing Members of the Parliament, the company’s founder Mike Ashley admitted the retailer’s “unacceptable” practice of deducting 15 minutes worth of pay for being late to work for one minute.
Employees not getting paid for their time doesn’t end with Sports Direct. More recently, the retailer Argos was fined £1.5m for underpaying thousands of employees. It was discovered that around 37,000 former and current employees were not paid for hours spent on briefings before they clock in. They were also not paid for the time spent on security searches at the end of their shifts.
Sports Direct and Argos could have probably avoided the controversies they were in if they had an established time tracking culture in place.
Time Tracking: A Bitter Pill to Swallow?
However, time tracking isn’t something that is automatically accepted by employees. Many consider it a spy technology employed by business owners to watch their workers’ every move.
No employee wants a boss breathing down their neck while working.
Putting yourself in the shoes of your employees, this is a valid concern. However, if you have a work environment built on mutual trust and respect, having an established employee first culture for your small business can, in fact, enhance productivity and boost employee morale.
Given the natural resistance against time tracking, how can you get the buy-in of your employees and accept it as a positive change?
Sell It as Employee Protection
As demonstrated above, time tracking is an effective and efficient way to prevent minimum wage violations among employers. When you sell time tracking this way to your employees, they will feel like you’re looking out after their welfare.
This is especially compelling considering that minimum wage violations in the UK have doubled compared to the previous year.
Every second and penny counts. Having a time tracking system in place will ensure that your employees are properly compensated for their hard work and minimises the possibility of you violating minimum wage laws.
Make It Legal
Arguably, the main objection that employees would have against time tracking is privacy violation, a workplace espionage of some sorts. This is an objection that you need to address from day one.
Before a time tracking system is implemented, call a meeting with your employees and outline what their privacy rights are in the workplace. This demonstrates that you are aware of their rights and have no intention of violating them. After, present the time tracking method you’re going to implement and assure them that their privacy will remain intact.
Lastly, encourage your employees to approach you, the payroll manager, or the human resource manager in case they have questions. This creates an environment for dialogue and allows your workers to get comfortable with the new system.
Track Your Own Time
Leading by example has never hurt anyone. It’s the same with time tracking.
According to author Curt Finch: “The most obvious reason for an owner or executive to keep track of their time is the boost in motivation it provides to the rest of the company. This is especially important with a topic that’s often met with as much resistance as time tracking.”
If you and members of top-level management such as small business payroll managers set the lead in tracking your time, the negative stigma associated with time tracking technologies will dissipate.
It’s High Time to Embrace Time Tracking
At the end of the day, time tracking when implemented properly, benefits employers and employees. It allows employees to be recognized and compensated for the hours of hard work they put into their jobs. It enables small businesses to monitor productivity and measure profitability.
It’s not an easy task to convince workers to embrace time tracking, but with the right technologies and policies, it’s not impossible to achieve.