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How to fill out a timesheet

Running a business means taking the proper steps to ensure your employees are working efficiently and are paid accurately for their time. To ensure this happens and to improve workflow management, you have to use timesheets. These confirm that your employees will be paid correctly for the amount of time they’ve worked.

Use the links below to jump to a particular section, or read the article in full for a comprehensive guide to filling out a timesheet.

How to fill out a timesheet: Step-by-step instructions

Step 1: Enter the employee’s name

Enter the person’s name whose working hours you are recording.

Step 2: Add a date range

Enter the date range of working days on the timesheet; this may be a daily, weekly or monthly timesheet.

Step 3: Add project details

Include the tasks the employee was working on during this time period; in some cases, you may be able to group these tasks into projects or categories to gain insight into how the employee’s time was spent.

Step 4: Include working hours for work days

Within each day of the week, record the hours an employee worked. This view will help you see on which days an employee puts in the most or least hours.

Step 5: Determine total hours

Once all days are filled in, calculate the total amount of hours worked within the time period, and fill in the total time in the total column.

Step 6: Get approval from supervisor

After the timesheet is filled out, it should be given to a designated supervisor for approval. After the details have been verified, the timesheet should be signed and submitted to the appropriate parties.

How do timesheets work?

A timesheet is a record of the number of hours an employee works during a specific period of time. It also records projects and tasks and how many hours an employee spends completing them. Timesheets are usually filled out by the employee, and it’s important they always submit them on time. If you’re struggling to get your employees to submit timesheets on time, send out reminders in advance so employees know exactly when they’re due. It’s good to discuss the significance of timesheets with your employees so they know to be punctual in completing and submitting them.

There are various types of timesheets that may work for your business. Timesheets essentially require employees to record the number of hours worked during a specific time period and the tasks that they completed. This information is recorded on a daily basis and then totalled at the end of the workweek. While this is generally how timesheets work, the information that you actually have to input differs for each type. These are the different types of timesheets:

  • Monthly timesheets
  • Semi-monthly timesheets
  • Weekly timesheets
  • Fortnightly timesheets
  • Daily hourly timesheets for employees
  • Daily timesheets for supervisors
  • Project timesheets

There’s also a difference between hourly and salary timesheets. For a salaried employee, a timesheet is used only for recording overtime hours, holiday or sick time hours. It’s not used to record the number of regular hours worked on a daily basis. However, for hourly employees, a timesheet is needed daily. A timesheet is essential to make sure that hourly employees are paid accurately for the time they work. You should record all hours worked for hourly employees, as well as overtime, holiday and sick time.

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Why you need to fill out your timesheets

Timesheets are useful for many reasons beyond just paying your employees correctly. There are myriad reasons why it’s important to fill out your timesheet, such as:

  • Getting help with payroll. You never want to end up in a situation where you’ve accidentally paid an employee too much or too little. But with a timesheet, that won’t happen. Timesheets help to reconcile payroll so you can make sure that the work hours listed on the timesheet match the hours on your payroll register. They’re also useful to set up payroll for remote workers, as you can access time tracking software from anywhere.
  • Tracking project costs. As a business owner, you must be aware of how much money you allocate to certain projects and whether you’re billing your customers at a fair hourly rate. Timesheets can help you track whether you’re making or losing money on projects, which can ultimately save your business money.
  • Billing more accurately. If you deal with a lot of clients, employee timesheets can help you bill more accurately. When used on a project management basis, a timesheet presents a comprehensive view of the exact time spent on a particular initiative. They are helpful in reassuring your clients that you’re handling their projects correctly and not wasting any of their money while doing so.
  • Measuring employee performance. If you’re looking for a way to measure employee performance, timesheets are the way to go. You can track employee time, which will give you better insight into how your employees spend their days. This insight can improve employee performance and productivity in the office.
  • Saving money. Timesheets ultimately can save your business money. They tell you exactly what projects your employees are working on and how much work time they spend on them. This can help to pinpoint employees who need to improve their time management, as well as employees who need incentive. It can also make you more aware of any tasks to which you’re allocating too much money so you know to cut back.
  • Improving workflow efficiency. Timesheets give you a better understanding of the work your employees are doing. You can use that to improve the workflow efficiency for approvers in the human resources/payroll office. With a timesheet, you can get a better idea of which projects need more time and resources and which projects need less. This can help delegate responsibilities as well, so you don’t have too many employees working on a single project.

What should be included in a timesheet?

A timesheet should be organised and easy to read. Regardless of the type of timesheet you use, this is what should be included on it:

  • Name
  • Pay period
  • Dates worked
  • Hours worked
  • Clock in/out times
  • Total working hours.

It’s also important to note any holiday leave, overtime or sick time that your employees take. If they earn annual leave or overtime pay, this will help ensure they’re compensated appropriately.


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