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Many employees don’t spend a lot of time under your watchful eye in the workplace, including sales representatives, consultants, telecommuters and those who travel a lot on the job. Even employees who work on-site might not be that easy to monitor all the time. As a supervisor, you have several options for dealing with and tracking the whereabouts and performance of your employees to make them accountable for their time.
Decide what you want from each position in your company. Are you more interested in the number of hours an employee is physically in your place of business, or are you more concerned with the volume and quality of work being performed? Some managers feel they need to see an employee to make sure he is busy. For example, if you manage a store, you want to make sure you employees are helping customers when customers are around, or arranging merchandise when customers aren't around. In other cases, however, you might be comfortable letting employees set their own schedules as long as they are meeting their responsibilities in a timely manner. If you manage a sales branch, you don't want your people hanging around the office when they should be out in the field drumming up business.
Hourly employees can be asked to punch a time clock, check in and out at a front desk, or submit a detailed work log to account for the hours they work. Commissioned employees expect more leeway in tracking their hours. They should be given this leeway provided their performance goals are met. A commissioned employee's paycheck is based on how much revenue he generates for the company. As such, he might need more flexibility in the hours he puts in to accommodate before- and after-hours sales calls. You can make these employees accountable for their work by establishing specific financial goals or sales quotas.
Managers can use commercial software programs that let them track the time an employee spends on his computer, whether he is telecommuting or working in an office environment. This not only allows a manager to monitor the hours being worked. It also her track Internet usage to ensure work time is not being spent on personal pursuits, such as surfing the web, shopping, playing games or checking social media accounts. Employees who misuse their work time can be reprimanded according to corporate policy for conducting personal business on company time.
If you have an employee who is often away from his work station, or who fails to complete assigned tasks on time, it’s time for a frank, one-on-one discussion. An employee cannot account for his work time might be leaving work early, arriving late, or spending time on non work-related activities. Meet with this person in private to discuss your concerns. You might find the employee has a medical condition that requires frequent restroom breaks, or one who tries to leave work for short periods to check on a child or elderly parent. Once the issue is out in the open, you can discuss solutions or actions. If the employee has a valid reason for being away from work, consider a more flexible schedule or reduced work hours. If an employee is ambivalent about his job or is just lazy, insist on hourly personal check-ins and weekly time breakdowns that detail hours and work performed. Revisit the issue at regular intervals to ensure work time continues to be accounted for.