Carol, the HR representative at QuickCorp, is constantly overwhelmed by the tasks to be done every day. She struggles to decide what should get done first. She's almost always trying to multitask: answering emails while taking a phone call, clicking back and forth between tabs in her browser, and skimming over other materials even in the middle of a meeting. Her daily job responsibilities are filled with the need to handle time-intensive tasks such as manually entering time cards into Excel sheets.
She's constantly stressed, frequently overwhelmed, and starting to feel as though vital tasks are falling through the cracks. The more she tries to get on top of it, the more those tasks add up: payroll, negotiating with vendors, calculating tax withholding, and handling vital employee concerns every day.
The problem? Carol doesn't recognize the common causes of her time management issues--which means that she doesn't have the tools she needs to fix them.
Time Management Problem #1: Multitasking
Only about 2% of the population can multitask effectively. For the rest, multitasking can reduce productivity by as much as 40%. Sometimes, it seems harmless. You have multiple tasks that you want to complete, and you want to show your effectiveness. Unfortunately, each time you swap between tasks, you lose time. Some of the most productive people learn how to focus effectively on a single task, seeing it through from start to finish before moving on to the next task.
Often, people try to multitask without even realizing it. Do you find yourself checking your email in the middle of writing up a report or putting together an estimate? Do you answer your phone multiple times through the workday, regardless of what tasks you're currently tackling? Do people come into your office, demanding your immediate attention? All of those tasks can pull your attention away from the one you were initially focusing on, which can lead to substantial challenges in focus and prevent you from maximizing your productivity.
Time Management Problem #2: Stress
Acute stress can quickly create problems with your overall performance--and chronic stress decreases your performance even more. For many workers, including HR professionals, this becomes an ongoing, negative feedback cycle: being stressed leads to procrastination, since you struggle to bring your mind to focus on the task at hand. Ultimately, however, this procrastination leads to increased stress, because you now have tighter deadlines and even more tasks on your plate.
Many HR workers are dealing with too many tasks on a daily basis--including tasks that require them to deal with tedious or manual input. When you take those tasks off their plates or provide them with a more efficient way to accomplish them, on the other hand, they often show much more substantial results.
Time Management Problem #3: Lack of Prioritization
To effectively accomplish tasks, it's critical to prioritize. Your workers need to know what tasks are important, which ones genuinely need to be finished first, and which ones can wait for a later time. Without prioritization, often, high priority tasks don't get completed, while low priority tasks do. Tasks with far-off deadlines might be sitting complete, but tasks with near deadlines are still sitting there, incomplete. This lack of prioritization feeds into the stress cycle, which further degrades the employee's overall performance.
Time Management Problem #4: Being Overwhelmed
Sometimes, there is legitimately too much work for one person to handle. Consider Coat and Thai's manager, for example. This person was responsible for hiring, scheduling, and time-tracking--and all of those tasks landing squarely on one set of shoulders quickly led to bottlenecks, an overwhelmed manager, and a stress cycle that didn't seem possible to break effectively. Often, it starts innocently. An employee's productivity is up, and they're comfortable taking on a few additional tasks or handling extra responsibilities. Unfortunately, when things start to go wrong, that employee may struggle much harder to keep up--and the longer things fail to fall into place, the harder it can be to break out of the stress cycle and restore normal productivity.
Time Management Problem #5: Lack of Technology
Ideally, technology cuts down on manual labor and automates many of the functions that your business needs to operate smoothly. Having to do everything manually can add hours to the workflow, which quickly leads to employees being overwhelmed--and then the stress cycle starts all over again.
Take a look, for example, at Snyder Engineering. Their shop employees were still punching in a time clock--and each week, when they turned in their timesheets, their manager had to take the time to convert the decimals on the timesheets to actual hours, which were then used to calculate each employee's payment. Employees also used those timesheets to put in requests for time off or to note when they took a shorter lunch than usual. The result? Extra work for that manager, including 2-4 hours each week of inputting timesheet information alone.
In the case of Snyder Engineering, which struggled with a lack of technology, simply implementing a new, electronic timekeeping system has substantially cut down on the time employees must spend taking care of those tasks. Coat and Thai discovered that automating time and attendance tasks made it much easier to cut down on that feeling of being overwhelmed. Zamp HR's timekeeping solution effectively integrates time and labor with payroll and HR, saving time for employees across the organization. Ultimately, many businesses have found that this saves them substantial time and money. Want to learn more about our time management solutions and how to solve time management problems in your workplace? Contact us today.