Discover the Surprising Truth About Time Tracking and How to Boost Productivity Through Employee Engagement and Continuous Performance Management

Many organizations turn to time-tracking tools to monitor their employees' productivity. However, research in organizational psychology and behavioral science suggests this approach may do more harm than good, especially for knowledge workers who thrive on autonomy and trust.

A study by the University of Melbourne found that employees who felt trusted by their managers were more likely to be productive, engaged, and committed to their work (Martin et al., 2015). In contrast, the use of time-tracking tools can create a culture of micromanagement and mistrust, leading to decreased motivation and job satisfaction (Bernstein et al., 2017).

Moreover, time tracking does not accurately measure productivity, particularly for knowledge workers whose tasks often require deep thinking, creativity, and problem-solving. A survey by the Harvard Business Review revealed that 58% of knowledge workers felt that time tracking hindered their ability to do their best work (Gallo, 2015).

In fact, time tracking can encourage knowledge workers to cut their work short when they clock out, rather than focusing on delivering high-quality results. This behavior is supported by the Hawthorne effect, which suggests that people alter their behavior when they know they are being observed (McCambridge et al., 2014).

Anecdotal evidence also supports the idea that time-tracking tools can kill productivity. For example, a software developer at a large tech company shared that the introduction of time tracking significantly decreased team morale and output. "We spent more time worrying about how our time was being tracked than actually doing our work," they said. "It felt like we were being treated like children, not trusted professionals."

Furthermore, a study by the University of Chicago found that employees given more autonomy over their work schedule and location were more productive and satisfied with their jobs (Bloom et al., 2015). This suggests that the rigid nature of time tracking, which often requires employees to log their hours in a specific way and at specific times, may be counterproductive to fostering a high-performance work environment.

So, what's the alternative? Research suggests that fostering employee engagement and implementing continuous performance management are more effective ways to boost productivity and retention.

A meta-analysis by Gallup found that highly engaged teams are 21% more productive and have 59% less turnover than disengaged teams (Harter et al., 2020). By focusing on employee engagement, organizations can create a positive work environment that encourages innovation, collaboration, and growth.

Continuous performance management, which involves regular check-ins and feedback between managers and employees, has also been shown to improve productivity and engagement. A study by Deloitte found that organizations with continuous performance management processes had 24% higher employee engagement and 39% lower turnover rates (Deloitte, 2017).

In conclusion, while time-tracking tools may seem like an easy solution for measuring productivity, they can actually undermine the very thing they aim to improve. Organizations can create a culture of trust, autonomy, and high performance by prioritizing employee engagement and continuous performance management.

At, we understand the importance of fostering a positive work environment that drives top talent retention and team productivity. Our AI-first toolkit provides hassle-free solutions for engagement, recognition, and performance management, empowering HR leaders and managers to build thriving, high-performing teams.

Share this post