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Employee Time Log

I’ve found it useful to log the hours that an employee is putting in, not to control the employee or question his efficiency, but to learn about where the team really spends it time. I’m allergic to droning on with meetings that generate nothing, and get physically ill when my employees spend time doing chores that could be automated or dismissed altogether.

Typical examples of what a Time Log can reveal:

  • That time is being spent on tasks that are not generating value
  • How much time is spent in internal meetings and the responsibilites attached to them (preparing, reporting etc.)
  • Erroneous impressions the employee might have about which tasks take up most time (employees tend to think they spend more time on tasks they consider dull for example). It can help you coach the employee into a different perspective
  • Tasks that are performed manually might be automated or made more efficient
  • Your employee might unnecessarily be working overtime – the report will reveal if this is the case, and how much it happens


When should I use a Time Log?

Do use a Time Log if:

  • If you think priorities and time can be more efficiently managed
  • As a coaching tool to let your employee feel a bigger sense of control and ownership of their own workday
  • To learn more about the workday of your employees

Don’t use a Time Log if:

  • You and your employee already have a clear image of how time is spent
  • Your employee already delivers result and reports high work satisfaction
  • You are in an unusually busy period (for an eCommerce site to start logging time during the Christmas rush is not only bad timing, but will also give an incorrect image of what an average day looks like)
  • You are not prepared to spend time and resources following up the results
  • You are not prepared to give your employee a substantial influence over his/her workday




Get your employee on board

Schedule a meeting alone with your employee, and explain that you would like to do an analysis of his/her time spent. Further explain that this is not to control the employee’s time or a sign of distrust, but a tool to get a broader understanding on the workday looks today, and how the employee can have a bigger impact of how it will look tomorrow, and allow the manager to facilitate for the employees workday to be efficient and enjoyable. Show the employee the file, and illustrate what you would like to get out of it. Feel free to be open about the fact that “it’s a bit of a drag to measure time and fill out, but it’ll only be for a limited time, and we will learn a lot”, and that “most employees actually find it very interesting to see the results.”

Ask your employee to give you a comprehensive list of their day, including tasks, meetings, distractions, administration and everything in between.


Prepare the file

Having received the information from your employee, open the Excel document, and head for the Settings tab. Split the responsibilities your employee has reported (and add more if necessary) into categories. Feel free to have a look at the Example settings tab. Enter the employees name and position, as well as a start and end date. You can also fill in the length of a work day if you want to include overtime in the reports.


Let your employee start logging

Give your employee access to the file, and start logging minutes. Remind him/her that it’s important to log continually away and keep the file open at all times, or important information will be lost/forgotten. Do not wait until the end of the workday to log.




Get to know the data

After ten days of logging, you will receive a complete file and the reports will be ready (note that you need to manually update the pivot forms by right-clicking and choosing Refresh data). Make sure to study the file yourself so there are no surprises when you sit down with your employee. During the talk, let your employee speak about the impression he/she is getting from the Time Log, and where it would make sense to make changes.


Have a Lean Workshop

When you have a clear image of which tasks are generating value, have a Lean Workshop to find the root causes, discuss solutions and set an action plan.

Questions or comments? Bugs in the file? Let me know in the comment section!

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