Salaried employees are accountable for their time and results

Dear Joan:

I read your article this week about lack of attendance causing a big problem.  My problem is with exempt employees. How can I legally track their time?  We have some supervisors who do not use a time clock, are out frequently on sales calls, never let me know when they are sick or on vacation.  How can I get a handle on their time?  Thank you for your help. 


There is nothing “illegal” about requiring your exempt employees to account for their time.  Just because they are not punching a time clock, doesn’t mean they can come and go as they please. 

Every employer has the right and responsibility to keep track of their employees’ results and general whereabouts while on the job.  You shouldn’t have to track their time, but they should be accounting for it.   

Here are some typical approaches other managers use: 

Measure Results

Establish some measures that will help you know if they are on track for achieving results.  For instance, in your industry (banking) perhaps it is the number of new accounts they are responsible for opening per month.  If their results start to slip, you can have a discussion about how they are spending their time, and what they will need to do to turn around their falling sales. 

They Report on Indicators

Determine some indicators that are important to track.  Indicators are like the gauges on a dashboard.  If they are all at the appropriate level, you know the car is moving toward its destination.  For instance, one indicator that leads to reaching sales goals is the number of leads that are generated, or the number of potential customer appointments

that occur each month.  Your employees should be accountable for reporting on their activities and providing details about what they are doing, who they are calling on and the results of their meetings. 

They Coordinate Coverage

In many organizations, supervisors must coordinate among themselves so that enough of them are providing coverage in the office.  For instance, it may be best for at least one supervisor to be in the office at any one time, in the event that a customer problem or personnel issue arises.  This forces them to coordinate amount themselves so everyone does their share and they are more accountable to each other about their whereabouts. 

In/Out Board

Most organizations have a system for reporting who is in and who is out, and how they can be reached.  Some organizations post a board or calendar in a visible place, so employees can see at a glance where everyone is.  At the very least, usually there is one persona who acts as a point person and to whom they must report their comings and goings.  That way, if something “blows up” at the office, there is a way to locate them. 


There is no excuse for not communicating when they are taking vacation.  Not only is it critical for you to know whether they are gone, their employees and peers need to know.  In addition to telling you far enough in advance, they should also be briefing you as to where they are in their projects and who will act as their backup during their absence.  In some organizations, leaders coordinate their vacations so there is ample coverage during key times of the year. 


It’s surprising to me that you don’t have a policy requiring calling in when someone is sick.  Organizations typically require all employees to call in if they aren’t going to show up for work.  You can’t operate a bank without knowing where people are and if they’ll be in.  In fact, with a lax system like this, you’re inviting people to violate the rules.  You can’t know if they are taking extra vacation days, going shopping instead of working, or taking three-hour lunches with their friends. 

Now, how are you going to tighten the reins, without causing indignant protest?  You can start by creating more accountability for results with weekly one-on-one meetings to report on indicators and results.  Closer scrutiny will cause them to be more accountable for their whereabouts. 

You can also request that they start calling in when they are sick and filling in a calendar with their planned vacations.  For any last minute vacation days, they should notify you to clear it.  If that doesn’t do the trick, you can focus in on the people who violate the rules and ask them to track their daily activities.  Don’t punish the ones who are getting results and responsible about reporting their whereabouts by making everyone adhere to a rigid daily reporting structure.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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