How to use idle time for benchmarking and improving employee performance

by Amy Owens
idle time tracking

With more people than ever working remotely, companies are investing in productivity and time tracking tools like Time Doctor to make sure workforces are staying efficient and productive.

Along with this rise in popularity a lot of new terms are being introduced and discussed. One of the terms in Time Doctor reports that  we regularly get questions about is “idle time.” 

Read on to learn what idle time is, why it’s important to track and how it’s normal and acceptable to see during the workday. Plus, learn how to successfully use the idle time reports from Time Doctor to improve your team’s performance.

So, what is idle time?

Within the Time Doctor product, we consider employee “idle time” to be computer time (time tracked while working on a computer) that has no keyboard or mouse activity. Idle time is broken down by minutes and seconds to provide more insights and data points to review performance. A minute is considered idle if a user is tracking time during this minute but there has been zero mouse or keyboard activity, the same goes for idle seconds.

Time Doctor reports, specifically the Activity Summary Report, show the share of idle minutes, active seconds, unproductive, manual, and mobile time for each user over a selected time period. Allowing you to identify potential problems in your company and compare employees who do similar work.  

Idle time is normal and acceptable!

A key point that we always discuss with clients regarding tracking idle time is that it’s completely normal to have idle minutes during the workday. Idle time will accumulate while employees are on calls, reading an article or emails, or even thinking. 

It’s important to remember this when analyzing idle time so that the insights you take from this data stay focused on the right areas like improving workflows, productivity and benchmarking versus micromanaging every minute of your employees day. 

workforce analytics webinar

How to use idle time for benchmarking

As we just mentioned, tracking idle time can quickly turn into micromanaging or be perceived as such but this data is valuable and often times crucial for companies to maintain efficiency and improve overall performance. 

One of the most valuable ways our clients use idle time data is in benchmarking. We mentioned it earlier but idle time can vary depending on the tasks or actions of employees but this same information can be extremely valuable when you break it down by job roles. Understanding the average idle time per role let’s you create accurate benchmarks to measure performance as well as provide insights into workflows and duties.

Start by analyzing the average idle time for employees with the same job roles in your company. Group these employees together to review the idle time percentages over a period of time and decide what the acceptable amount of idle time is for each role. This information will keep you from trying to compare a sales manager’s performance to a support manager’s performance.

For example, here are the typical percentages for idle minutes and seconds for these specific jobs according to our own Time Doctor data:

  • Sales Representatives: Idle minutes: 40–70%; idle seconds: 50–90%
  • Management: Idle minutes: 20–60%; idle seconds: 40–80%
  • Software Developers: Idle minutes: 30–60%; idle seconds: 50–80%
  • Designers: Idle minutes: 30–50%; idle seconds: 50–80%
  • Client Support: Idle minutes: 10–20%; idle seconds: 20–40%
  • Data Entry Specialists: Idle minutes: 5–10%; idle seconds: 10–20%

Now that you have a baseline for each role in your company, you can start to use this data to evaluate and compare the performance of each employee in the same role.

Time Doctor’s Activity Summary Report lets you easily drill down to see the specific projects and tasks worked, as well as what websites and apps were used during the time period in question. This lets you optimize workflows and also increase individual productivity by understanding who needs help or identifying potential problems early.

Another advantage of understanding idle time for specific job roles is that it allows you to analyze whether employees are simply less active when working or if they perform different tasks than others in this role, giving you more insight into processes and where improvement can be made.

For example, if you drill down into the idle time of one of your lower performers, you can understand the source of their idle time and take actions. Easily review what apps they use the most to make sure they are using the right tools for their role. If you see they spend more time on Zoom, dig into why they have so many meetings and if they actually need to attend these.

The Activity Summary Report will also provide you with the low activity Screencasts for this time period giving you more visibility into what steps they take to make sure they are following processes correctly or if they might benefit from more training.

Activity Summary Report - Time Doctor

So, are you ready to start improving your team’s performance?

Start your free 14-day trial today and see what else you can do with Time Doctor.

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