A Leader’s Guide to Task Management & Employee Productivity

“It’s not always that we need to do more, but rather that we need to focus on less.”

- Nathan W. Morris, Author and Finance Expert

The modern workforce is transforming with every new day. Workforce technology has exploded in the past ten years. The task management software market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 13.7%, eventually reaching an annual revenue of $4.33 billion dollars by 2023.

For any organization that is focused on growth, team productivity is crucial. Increased profits are dependent on quality work and making deadlines on time. However, if productivity is continuously downward trending, organizations can lose business and clients, resulting in immense losses.

How Productivity & Task Management Go Hand-in-Hand

At MetaSpark, we understand that there are many factors that affect your organization’s task management levels as a whole. That’s why we have compiled a number of blog posts phrased as questions to help you enable your employees’ productivity:

  1. How Does Better Task Management Enhance Employee Productivity?
  2. Can AI Improve My Employee’s Task Management?
  3. Does Task Tracking Software Hurt My Team?
  4. Does Manual Data-Entry Affect My Productivity Tools?
  5. Are There Disadvantages to Task Management Software?
  6. What Are the Best Task Management Software Elements From 2021?
  7. Can Better Task Management Help Remote Work Productivity?
  8. What are the Task Management Best Practices For HR?
  9. Why Does My Company Need Task-Managing Productivity Software?

Free eBook: An Introduction To Enabling Employee Productivity in 2021

How can you ensure your workforce remains productive? 

In this eBook, you will learn:

  1. 6 proven strategies for improving employee productivity
  2. The difference between internal and external productivity barriers
  3. Dozens of tips, tricks, and expert-researched insights
  4. And more!
Download Your Copy Now

Our Task Management Software Features Integrate with Many Different Apps

Our deep work enabling software platform allows you to better manage all your work, including task managing, from one dashboard. If your employees use various software applications, it can be tiresome to switch between them all and pull valuable recognition from them.

That’s why MetaSpark:

  • Automatically pulls everyone's work, from every system, into one screen – no data entry required
  • Removes digital distractions so you and your team can focus on getting critical work done
  • Tracks your teams’ goals and progress toward OKRs in real-time
  • Presents a live picture of your team's progress
  • And more!

How Does Better Task Management Enhance Employee Productivity?

When employees switch between apps over 1,000 times a day, tasks become chaotic. Poor task management can result in wasted time, procrastination, and organization-wide disorganization. Sometimes deficient task management doesn’t necessarily mean your team isn’t working as hard as they can. It could just be that they’re working hard on unimportant tasks and activities that hurt their productivity. 

So what are some ways to improve task management, and how does this impact productivity across the organization?

Treat Time Like Money

Companies are careful about what they spend their budget on. Management uses budgets and internal processes to ensure that money is spent in the right areas. Yet most companies and managers don’t treat time this way. 

When you look at successful leaders, you’ll notice a common theme. They use their time wisely, ensuring that they are getting tasks done that are both urgent and important.

  • What if, as a manager, you could get everyone on board with this process? 
  • Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see deadlines consistently met? 
  • Wouldn’t it be great if everyone felt they had enough hours in the day to complete their workloads?

In fact, 68% of employees feel that they have too many tasks on a daily basis and that they suffer from work overload. So let’s dive into some work productivity tips for you and your team.

Task Management Tips

Here are some task management tips that managers can give not only to their employees, but also use themselves. It may seem ironic that you need to take time away from doing productive work to focus on improving your productivity, but you need to spend time to make time.

1. Use To-do Lists

Your employees don’t always need to use paper to-do lists. They can set reminders or notifications on any device in any location. And it doesn’t have to be text either, they can use images, alarms, voice notes, etc.

2. Give Clear Prioritization

By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of a project, as well as their corresponding opportunities and threats, you can better understand the importance of tasks. This will help your team prioritize them.

3. Schedule Tasks in a Thoughtful Way

Technology has done leaps and bounds for helping employees be more productive, but at the same time, it can be the reason they get distracted. In fact, employees (and yes, managers too!) may waste an average of 21.8 hours a week.

One trick you can try is to assign start and due dates to tasks. This helps people be more aware of the time they have to get their work done.

4. Offer Flexibility

When things don’t always go according to plan, like when deadlines are missed, it’s not always in our control. It’s important that teams don’t feel overwhelmed or depressed in such times. 

Can AI Improve My Employee’s Task Management?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer something that is only seen in science fiction novels, but is something that is rapidly growing in workplace technology. 

AI in task management software are saving employees time by eliminating tasks that used to require manual input, while also ensuring important task deadlines don’t get overlooked. By integrating communication tools like Slack with project management tools such as JIRA, AI systems are able to handle reminders, scheduling, and follow-ups for a more efficient process. 

Only 23% of business leaders claim to have incorporated AI into their work processes. However, that number will jump significantly by 2025, with 90% of new enterprise apps expected to be embedded with artificial intelligence by then. This rapid growth is due to the fact that business professionals that use AI are already seeing significant benefits, like:

  • Cost reductions
  • Increased efficiency
  • Revenue growth
  • Improved customer experience
  • And more.

But does AI provide insights around tasks for managers?

Managers are always looking for ways to improve their team’s productivity and performance. With a tool that enables them to analyze their employees’ tasks within an integrated system, they can achieve that by reducing the potential for errors. 

AI also allows you to track employee progress in real-time. Traditionally, it was difficult to evaluate employee performance because managers relied on peer reviews, self-assessments, and difficult to measure business outcomes. 

But with live data and analytics, you can stop making guesses about performance. This also provides bias-free, objective performance feedback because AI assesses performance purely on performance metrics.

Does Task Tracking Software Hurt My Team?

There’s no doubt that task tracking software can hurt your team’s productivity. While these tools are designed to help management track a team’s internal workflow and monitor tasks, they can also make the process complicated for employees.

Manual entry is your task-finishing enemy

Having to manually re-enter data between apps is a glaring weakness within organizations. It’s time-wasting and money-wasting, and your competitors that have figured out ways to overcome this challenge have the upper hand. 

Manual data entry is vulnerable to manual errors, it’s inefficient, and unnecessary now that we have data integration. With automation processes available, why do many organizations continue to use manual data entry?

Does task tracking software show analytics on my team’s performance?

Most task tracking software does not provide analytics on team performance, which means management needs to rely on another tool to get reports. However, without analytics on team performance, most organizations manage without it, which can have dangerous consequences.

Most modern-day successful businesses rely on analytics to boost morale. By looking at profitable success, you aren’t seeing the more granular picture of how your employees are doing — or the small wins people in your organization contribute to the greater outcome. 

  1. Is one employee yielding more value per hour? 
  2. Are they completing more tasks in one day than others? 
  3. Is the quality of those tasks exceptional? 

But isn’t time tracking efficient?

The thing about task tracking software is it allows employees to organize projects, track their own time, and report their work. This is great, but what happens when employees are in charge of tracking their own time on tasks? Some employees might round up or down — whichever way makes them appear better.

This can lead to a missed deadline, because management will think that particular task only takes X number of hours.

“We need to press reset on the technology that underpins our working day so it creates focus, not chaos.”

- Tariq Rauf, CEO of Qatalog 

Does Manual Data-Entry Affect My Productivity Tools?

Imagine having to copy and paste, double click the same area on a screen, or tick a box over and over. Not only is this repetitive task unnecessary, it’s also prone to mistakes. This is especially true with all the distractions remote workers deal with on a daily basis. 

Manual data entry in productivity tools feels ironic. More importantly, people don’t want to do it. According to the COVID-19 Technology Survey by ABBYY, a quarter of employees say they want to quit their jobs due to bad business processes.

So why does manual data-entry hurt my employee’s productivity?

People make mistakes. Everyone falls victim to human error — it’s still unavoidable. That can be an extra digit added/subtracted, typos, punctuation mistakes, wrong place, etc.

Automation software doesn’t accidentally reply to the wrong email, record the notes from a customer meeting on the wrong account record, or forget about handling a key support ticket. That’s because automation doesn’t get stressed, bored, or feel rushed.

There are times when data entry isn’t taking place because employees need to take breaks. AI-driven productivity software automates these steps and is always working for you. It doesn’t take breaks unless you tell it to. And it’s always working at a consistently high rate.

The endless repetition of tasks can make someone demoralized, dissatisfied, or desperate to leave your team. People need meaning in their lives, and not surprisingly, manual data entry doesn’t cut it.

Companies often turn to project management software to help improve their overall productivity. But project management software tends to be cumbersome for their users and require too much data entry. 

The software can require a learning curve, which takes away from its intended purpose — to streamline. Project managers need to learn how to use the features, and team members have to learn how to enter data into a new system.

Instead of adopting an entirely new system, try a task management software that allows managers, teams, and individuals to bring tasks from every program or application into one dashboard. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re using Trello, Slack, Salesforce, Workday, Jira, HubSpot, or any other enterprise software. 

To learn more about how you can enhance employee productivity with improved task management, TRY METASPARK FREE today.

Are There Disadvantages to Task Management Software?

Organizations rely on task management software to manage productivity, improve efficiency, and enhance team communication. For managers, task management tools help with assigning tasks, tracking deliverables, preparing reports, and more. But for many companies, this software can cost more than it’s worth.

However, there are three main disadvantages of most task management software in 2021. 

1. The software doesn’t integrate.

Managing projects becomes difficult when teams have to constantly switch back and forth between separate tools. It may not seem like a big-time consumer, but switching between these tools can create gaps for distraction, which means time-sensitive tasks might be pushed out.

2. User adoption can be slow.

Just because you have task management software doesn’t mean your employees will use it every day or at all. It can be difficult for employees to see the benefit of using the software. This has always been true when organizations introduce new technology in the workforce. Employees feel like their security, stability, or purpose are being threatened.

Your team will usually resist these technologies for the same reason any person resists change:

  • Fear of the unknown
  • Not being in the know
  • The threat to expertise
  • Unclear value
  • Effort required
  • Perceived lack of skills
  • General distrust 
  • Or even a change in work habits.

3. Unfriendly design & difficult to use.

Employees aren’t going to want to manage a task management tool that doesn’t offer a user-friendly design. As an online workspace, your task management software needs to be simple and friendly for your employees. Otherwise, it won’t be fully accepted.

Try a task management system that offers a demo so you can see how the software affects your organization’s productivity. Make sure it solves the challenges we just went over: 

  1. Does it integrate with all the other applications your team uses? 
  2. Is it easy for your team to adopt? 
  3. Does it have a friendly design? 
  4. Is it easy to use? 

You want a comprehensive and user-friendly system that gives you visibility into every aspect of a project’s tasks.

What Are the Best Task Management Software Elements in 2021?

With how fast technology is moving in 2021, it’s important to find task management software that has the right features for your business. Depending on your company’s culture and dynamics, different elements might be more important than others. For more complex tasks like software development, a detailed project management or task management tool can be helpful.

So what are the best task management software elements you should be on the lookout for?

Minimal, or Better Yet, No Data Entry

You want to automate tasks to save time on repetitive, manual processes and improve productivity. For example, this works on the basis of trigger and action. 

When you change or move a task, it should automatically change in other applications, or the data will be sent to a different employee. With an automated workflow, teams and managers alike get alerts and become aware of what’s happening in real-time with little or no effort. 

It might not seem like writing an email or two to notify others when tasks are completed would take that much time. But over weeks and months, writing emails can add up to hours and days.

Download this eBook to learn expert-backed strategies to improve your team’s task management and work productivity.

Easy to Use Interface

Employees don’t have the time to learn new software. They need an easy-to-use and easy-to-learn interface that’s intuitive. The best task management software is the one that employees actually utilize. 

Managers and companies in general are always thinking about the user experience for their customers, and sometimes neglect their employees. Outdated interfaces can be frustrating for employees.

This affects motivation, performance, and ultimately, their productivity.

Helps Employees Feel Appreciated

You can reward employees for their good work and let them know how they are doing through a developed task management software application.

For example, MetaSpark matches incentives to employee task performance through a "Sparks" system. Employees earn a small amount of Sparks for completing tasks. Over time, Sparks add up to rewards. Your employees can choose the rewards they want, such as gift cards or donations to a charity.

Management-Level Insights

Always look for dashboards or analytic tools that allow management to see who is completing tasks on time, who’s going above and beyond, who needs some help, etc. 

This helps management make better decisions on a day-to-day basis so there aren’t any surprises at the end of a quarter.

App Integrations

If your task management software doesn’t integrate with your existing apps, your employees will constantly be switching between apps. Make sure that if your employees are sending messages or creating tasks that alerts are sent to your task management software. 

Can you add meetings to your calendar and integrate it with your task management software? These are important things to consider.

Can Better Task Management Help Remote Work Productivity?

Due to COVID-19, the world had to discover alternative methods to work. It’s expected that over a quarter of employees will continue to work remotely through 2021, according to an Upwork estimate.

“Our best estimate is that 25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.”

- Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics 

So how does task management affect remote work productivity

Michael Fitzpatrick, the CEO of ConnectSolutions, said, “Our Remote Collaborative Worker Survey suggests there are significant benefits to be gained by both remote workers and their employers with offsite employees motivated to work harder and more efficiently to protect both the personal and professional benefits of working remotely.”

Better task management contributes a large portion to the remote working process. Let’s review how you can improve your employee’s task management strategy to increase work productivity.

Scheduled check-ins

One on one conversations are an easy way to clear up any uncertainties about a task or project. They also can touch on goals, objectives, and performance plans. This helps managers gain an understanding of what employees are working on so that issues can be resolved before it’s too late.

Encourage frequent communication

One task management best practice is to encourage your employees to communicate often. Even though it’s through a screen and not in-person, project communication is important to help move tasks along. 

Organized companies usually have these easy practices in common to enable task productivity:

  • Morning chats 
  • Video meeting
  • Water cooler channel 
  • Internal messaging tool 

Use task management software

Using software to improve your task management is helpful for managers to measure both in-house and their employee productivity levels. 2021 technology allows businesses to look at input/output data so that managers know exactly how productive their remote workers are. 

The old methods of measuring employees’ productivity based on how busy they are have ended. The technology we have now has allowed businesses globally to adapt to COVID-19 in ways we never imagined. Different software tools have enabled management to check in with employees over applications, such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. 

What are the Task Management Best Practices For HR?

HR teams are essential for any team’s growth and for fostering positive relationships between managers and employees. While HR teams have different roles based on their organization and department, task management best practices and strategies will always help HR.

What about when HR needs to hire someone?

One of the most important parts of an HR team's job is to hire new employees. The average hiring process is around 24 days, and there are intricate tasks that need to be completed throughout that time.

Last year, a survey found that 60% of recruiters across all U.S. industries said screening candidates was the most time-consuming part of the process.

“David Grossman found that from a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year due to inadequate communication to and between employees.”

- Society for Human Resource Management

How can HR manage tasks around employee wellness?

One of the biggest challenges to employee wellness is that managers might not want their hard-working employees to spend time participating in any offered programs. It might make the approval process smoother if an HR team can highlight the estimated time it will take to complete the initiatives.

Can employee performance benefit from task management?

Yes! An important part of a solid task management strategy is to report on the process after you’ve set goals and implemented a strategy. A large responsibility for HR teams is reporting and analyzing employees’ performance data, and then helping managers understand and act on it. 

HR leaders need to know how their organization, management, and employees are doing and where they can improve internally.

Why Does My Company Need Task-Managing Productivity Software?

Companies rely so heavily on productivity software that you probably don’t even remember a time without it. It’s woven into our day-to-day work; your employees likely don’t know how long it would take to complete tasks if they didn’t have them.

Productivity software has allowed companies to get through one of the most difficult years due to COVID-19. With everything moved online, employees are able to work remotely from their homes.

But what exactly is productivity software? 

Productivity software refers to any tool that helps employees improve their task management. Think about any platform you use on your computer that makes your life easier. They usually fit into one or more of these categories:

  • Word processing 
  • Spreadsheet
  • Project Management 
  • Graphics
  • Database
  • Communication
  • Time Tracking
  • Organization
  • Presentation
  • Task Management with AI 

Will task management software improve my employee’s productivity?

All signs point to yes. Task-managing productivity software has transformed the business world in 2021 and will continue to do so. They’ve become part of our work lives because they enable us to be more efficient and improve the quality of our work. 

Simply put, task-managing productivity software helps your team be better at their jobs.

Many companies likely use some form of productivity software to help manage tasks, but that doesn’t mean they’re receiving their full benefits. Review what software tools you use in your day-to-day and determine if they can be integrated with other software to increase employee efficiency.

Have more questions? Download our eBook, An Introduction to Enabling Employee Productivity in 2021, to learn more.

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