Connecting Time to Outcomes Can Improve Engagement

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Dec 14, 2017

Disengaged, unmotivated, or unhappy employees are a huge problem for the United States. Gallup’s 2017 report State of the American Workplace calculated that actively disengaged workers cost the nation $483 billion to $605 billion each year in lost productivity each year.

Company culture, manager-employee relationship dynamics, salary, scheduling, access to benefits, and various other factors can all help contribute to (or detract from) the multifaceted goal of employee satisfaction. The inability to connect time spent and hours worked to a specific outcome is less frequently acknowledged as a cause of lacking job satisfaction. In fact, 14% of workers admit to not knowing how their day-to-day tasks affect their company; 53% said they want greater insights.

To connect the dots between time and performance, a company needs to get intelligent about how it understands, manages, uses, and tracks time. Here’s how:

Understand time as your greatest asset

We’ve all heard the phrase “time is money,” but most businesses don’t inherently value time the way they value money. And yet, if we all know and understand this phrase, then why don’t businesses track time the way they track money? Why don’t they manage their time the way they manage their materials use their resources?

Committing to harnessing time data across an enterprise is the first step to understanding how everyone at a company uses time, and connecting hours worked to outcomes produced for each individual employee. Time can be a powerful ally — but only if understood and managed correctly.

Upgrade end-to-end time analysis

Managers often already engage in various forms of cohort analysis to better understand their businesses — taking a group of leads and tracing their journey through the sales cycle through the final sale, and so on. Using the key metrics of your particular business, cohort analyses can give you a detailed view into how those metrics develop over your customer lifetimes. In theory, these analyses can help you pinpoint which employees are contributing at what point, how, and to what end. And yet, too often data for hours worked is limited by the disparate systems we keep it in.

Time is measured, directly and indirectly, in a variety of different systems — in CRM, ERP, HR, project management, PSA, and more. But all these systems measure it in different, non-connected and often unshareable ways, which limits your cohort analysis to separate systems.

If you start with your CRM system to track hours worked on a sale, you can measure initial conversations only to the point where you likely have a meeting with the then-prospect. After that, a different system takes over and you have no easy way to connect project or product delivery back to those initial hours worked, because these two systems don’t speak to each other. This issue is only exacerbated the further you get through your overall workflow, and more systems come into play.

In order to connect work planned, work delivered, and outcomes produced, companies need to update their disparate time management methods and invest in a single unified system of time spent.

Empower employees with detailed knowledge of their impact

Part of motivating employees is making sure they know the big picture, and specifically how they’re contributing to it. This idea is simple — if you don’t know how your work contributes to the function of your company, then it’s difficult to feel that you’re doing something worthwhile.

With an all-encompassing system that tracks work done throughout your company’s entire workflow, someone on the delivery team, for example, can see exactly how their code contributed to the final billing that’s done on a key project, empowering them with the knowledge of the value of their contributions.

With a central system of record, not only can you look at your workflow from Point A to Point B, or Point A to Point Z, but you can also look at Point D to Point W, and Point J to Point M. That is to say, you can start at any point in your workflow, and see exactly what it led to. This way, you can foster a culture of accountability, vision, and empowerment at your company down to even the individual employee level.

Embrace a new way of thinking

In order to achieve all of this and successfully empower employees, your business needs to embrace time intelligence. Time intelligence is a business concept that refers to being able to deploy time as your company’s greatest, most valuable asset. A time intelligent business treats time the way it treats money, resources, and materials.

While the greatest tangible shift towards time intelligence comes with unifying the disparate systems that track and hold your time data, time intelligence is much more than the sum of static data and reports. It means businesses can connect time spent to outcomes produced, and understand time as an asset.

This new knowledge flows back to individual employees, so they can understand their own time, how they are contributing, and what they can change to be more successful.