Trust in the workplace has become more important than ever.
Different circumstances, work arrangements, and finally the current pandemic have contributed to a widening trust gap between employers and employees.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, one in three people don’t trust their employers. As a result, employees are less engaged at work and they will jump at the opportunity to change jobs.
As trust is a two-way street, many business owners and managers are struggling to manage their remote and field staff. In other words, since they can’t “see” their employers, bosses sometimes have a hard time trusting that they actually work.
When such doubts creep in, they can hinder the growth of your business and impact your bottom line by creating a toxic work environment.
That’s why it’s essential to learn how to track field employees properly and build trust and loyalty in the workplace.
Understand the Job
Back in the day, when working one’s way up through the company was a thing, managers used to start their career as field workers. This means they were familiar with the ins and outs of this particular profession. The fact that they had a shared experience with the workers they were responsible for, helped them understand different challenges and peculiarities of the job.
If you haven’t been a field worker yourself, then tracking employees in the field can put your managerial and leadership skills to the test.
Let’s say your field employees sometimes waste time, and at first sight, you have every right to be frustrated and suspicious. But, if you look into this issue more carefully, you’ll most probably conclude that, usually, the reason why your workforce is wasting time is subpar tools, equipment, and facilities.
Moreover, you’ll see that they’re as frustrated as you are.
In this case, the blame is on you, as a manager who failed to understand the complexities of a particular field job and ensure that your employees have everything they need in order to stay on track.
One way out of this problem is listening to their needs, asking them about their challenges, and acquainting yourself with their tasks and responsibilities in depth.
In order to gain the necessary knowledge about what your field employees do every day and better understand their mindset, try walking in their shoes. In this context, it’s called job shadowing. Arrange to spend a day with different field workers and you’ll be able to see things from their perspective.
Once you grasp the nitty-gritty of their job, it will be easier for you to track field employees and notice if some of them are trying to slack off.
Choose Your Metrics Carefully
When it comes to tracking employees in the field, there are different metrics you can measure depending on the specificities of your industry and business.
However, there are a couple of metrics that are staples for monitoring your field workforce, keeping an eye on whether they are working, and measuring how productive they are.
1. GPS tracking
Given that your field employees are on the move during their entire shift, it’s only logical to ensure they are where they claim to be. This means tracking their routes and establishing whether they’re visiting customers at the right time and location.
For example, Timeero will provide you with a breadcrumb trail path of where every team member has been. In addition to that, this tool also allows you to track speed, distance, and the exact time for each location. Plus, it works offline.
That’s what makes it a reliable field employee GPS location tracking tool.
Since it’s capable of capturing the exact GPS coordinates, you can rest assured that every employee is performing their tasks as expected, thus offering an exceptional customer experience. Finally, your field employees will be protected in case a dispute arises since they will be able to prove they fulfilled all their duties.
2. Work time tracking
Work time tracking is another way to track field employees and be sure they’re not goofing off while they’re on company time.
Again, all parties benefit from implementing this metric. Employers and field team managers don’t have to worry that company time and resources aren’t spent in an unproductive manner. Similarly, field workers know that they will be fairly compensated for their hard work.
Timeero comes with a time-tracking feature, and it easily integrates with any popular payroll app thus streamlining the entire process and preventing potential legal issues related to overpaying or underpaying your employees.
3. Profit margins
Yes, having a reliable field staff that will complete all their tasks at a lightning speed is great.
But it’s equally important to regularly check whether your bottom line and profit margins reflect their productivity and those awesome performance metrics.
That’s the reason why you should consistently compare your field employees’ productivity metrics to your bottom line and see how they stack up.
It’s a good idea to determine your field team’s effectiveness ratio by measuring your gross profit against the overall salary costs of your entire team and not the number of hours worked. Taking the actual results into consideration is a much better way of determining the value of your field employees.
Set Measurable Goals
Before you ask yourself “How do I track a field employee?” it’s essential to make sure every person on your team knows exactly what their responsibilities and your expectations are.
Setting clear, specific, and measurable goals and explaining to every employee what their role within your organization is, will help them improve their performance and deliver on your and your customers’ expectations.
Needless to say, it’s essential to give your field employees all the necessary information about their tasks and discuss the instructions in detail.
In this case, over communicating is highly recommended, because it will minimize the risk of misunderstandings.
Don’t hesitate to ask additional questions in order to check whether your employees understand the instructions and your expectations.
By putting their tasks and responsibilities in the context of general objectives and goals, you help your field employees to understand their place in and the contribution to the success of the company.
Micromanagement is one of the biggest killers of motivation.
It creates a toxic workplace environment to such an extent that 69% of employees who experienced micromanagement considered changing jobs because of this unpleasant phenomenon.
So, it’s obviously a big no-no. But it’s so easy to slip into micromanaging your team in an attempt to organize them better and ensure they’re staying on track.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t track your field employees, but that you should trust them more. We’ve already mentioned that focusing on deliverables and results is the best way of monitoring your employee productivity.
Instead of constantly meddling and requiring that you should have your say on every decision they make, it’s much better to give your team some freedom and show them you trust in their abilities and judgment.
Try to think about monitoring not only as a method of oppression and spying on your field team but as a way to help them by identifying what work processes could be optimized. Another benefit of such an approach is fostering employee loyalty, engagement, and motivation.
Give Them the Tools They Need
Just like you need the right tools to manage and track field employees, it’s equally important to equip your team with the solutions and training they need to do their job.
Given the nature of fieldwork, such a tech stack should consist of the following apps and tools.
1. Workforce check-in tools
When it comes to the visibility and accountability of your on-the-go team, a reliable field employee GPS location tracking tool is a must.
But, employees who are mobile need a lightweight tool that will reduce the administrative burden and allow them to seamlessly check in our check out.
Timeero is an easy-to-use solution that eliminates the need for expensive hardware clocks or fingerprint readers.
Its face recognition time clock allows checking in within seconds, while at the same time prevents buddy punching, which makes it significantly easier for you to accurately track field employees.
Moreover, Timeero’s GPS tracking feature will automatically clock users in or out when they depart from or arrive at a location so that your employees don’t even have to think about it when they’re in a hurry.
2. Communication tools
If your departments and teams are working in different locations, keeping the lines of communication open between them is of critical importance.
Remote and field teams need to bridge the communication gap and stay in touch with each other using instant messaging and team collaboration apps. That way, you can ensure that all the team members get the necessary updates as well as that everybody’s on the same page.
Let’s not forget that being a field employee can be a solitary position. Watercooler chats and lunch breaks with their co-workers are rarely part of their routine. In order to build a strong team spirit, which will positively impact company productivity and performance, encourage communication between your employees by creating a casual, non-work-related group chat.
3. Calendar and scheduling tools
Scheduling tasks, preventing overlapping, and ensuring that every shift is covered can be challenging when you’re managing a field team.
Again, you can use Timeero to facilitate and streamline and optimize your scheduling processes. The “Who’s Working” tab allows you to see who’s working and who’s available to cover an upcoming task/shift. That’s another easy way to track field employees and organize their tasks.
At the same time, your on-the-go workers will have their schedules accessible at their fingertips, and they’ll instantly get a notification about any updates.
This way, both you and your team will always have a clear overview of all the to-dos and deadlines in one place.
If you are a home healthcare business owner, read our article on key features of an ideal home health care workforce management software.
Check In With Them Regularly
It’s very easy for people who don’t work at the office to feel disconnected and somewhat lost.
That’s why there’s no such thing as checking in too often with your field team. Don’t hesitate to organize regular one-on-one meetings with them. If it’s possible, catch up with them in person at least once in a while.
These check-ins shouldn’t be strictly professional - try to get to know your employees personally and understand what makes them tick. By connecting with them on a more meaningful level, you’ll give them a greater sense of belonging.
Also, offer them regular feedback about their performance, because without your input they don’t know whether they’re living up to the company’s standards. And, the fact that you’re not complaining to them doesn’t qualify as feedback.
58% of employees say that giving recognition is how leaders could improve engagement
Don’t skimp on praising and complimenting your employees for a job well done. Recognition matters as it will additionally motivate them to keep up the good work.
Look After Your Employees
While it’s important to track field employees and make sure they’re doing their best at work, don’t forget to look after them, treat them as humans and not machines, and show them you care for their well-being.
As you know, fieldwork is demanding and stressful. Deadlines are tight, not to mention that they have to deal with traffic jams, clients who cancel, and unexpected situations. All this adds up and it’s up to you to help to reduce all this pressure and ensure your field employees maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Reward your high-performers with an occasional day off, and more importantly, make sure that all shifts are well organized and planned out so that nobody has to work crazy hours.
So, how do you track your field employees tactfully without making them feel as if they’re being spied on?
It’s always a sensitive topic since employees take tracking their time and location as a sign that you don’t trust them. That’s why you should talk them through all the benefits they will get if you implement a field employee tracking app and other solutions for streamlining and organizing your fieldwork better.