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Effective Timesheets for Construction Teams

Ah, that dreaded aspect of employment – the timesheet. You might be met with some groans of disapproval from your construction team when you announce their implementation – especially if you’ve never used timesheets in the past. But timesheets can be a useful addition to your construction business for several reasons.

Timesheets today aren’t the ugly time cards your predecessors used. Modern timesheet templates and tools are useful, sleek, and streamlined. New time-keeping methods, like TSheets, are cloud-based and only take seconds to update, providing you with an incredible data stream that you can use for calculating costs for just about any facet of your construction company. Implementing timesheets is incredibly simple, and getting your team not only on board but happy to do so, is much easier than you think.

Why Your Team Might Object to Timesheets and How to Change Their Minds

There are several reasons why your team may throw a fit when you first mention implementing timesheets. They might have preconceived notions regarding time-keeping, such as:

  • It’s outdated.
  • It’s micromanagement.
  • It doesn’t apply to their specific job.

But any team, construction or otherwise, can benefit from keeping track of hours worked, even in a collaborative environment. It’s especially beneficial to your company. And you can explain that, while tracking of hours worked, you’re not doing it to ensure your team is working hard enough – you’re managing time spent per task, so you’re better able to bid for future jobs knowing beforehand how much a certain job requires.

You also might have a team member or two that immediately balks at time tracking. If that happens, clarify that, contrary to the employee’s assumption, you’re not necessarily managing your worker, but rather keeping track of the overall time it takes to complete each build. Explain that you’re not going to hover – you don’t need updates on time every fifteen minutes. Let them know that this isn’t an oversight issue – it’s for financial reports.

And what about your architects, your designers? While you can’t necessarily place a time value on knowledge or creativity, the end results provided by this part of your team are necessary. And you still need to know, based on their wages and their time spent developing plans, what your end cost is for their services. It’s how you decipher if you’re taking a loss or making a profit.

Your best bet is to bring up the idea of implementing timesheets at your next meeting. At the next regularly scheduled business meeting, broach the subject and let your team know the value that tracking time brings to construction companies like yours. Have a short Q and A session and address any questions that may be asked. Take notes regarding concerns, and if you don’t have an answer at the time, ensure your employees’ answers are forthcoming and all concerns can be addressed. Begin by illustrating the benefits of time tracking and why timesheets matter.

Benefits of Employee Time Entry – Why Keeping Timesheets Matters

The best way to get your team on-board with anything your company is initializing is to have an open and honest discussion. If you want to call a special meeting for this purpose to ensure there’s plenty of time to address concerns, that’s fine, too. Let’s start with the basics. Why do you want to implement timesheets?

With timesheets for time tracking and management, you can have:

  • More explicit data regarding the length of tasks, meaning estimates and job costing are more effective
  • More insight into current time habits so adjustments can be made if and when necessary
  • Knowledge of who is working on what and when, so if there’s a team member who’s not busy at certain times, they can be swapped over to another task

Timesheets save time on administrative tasks

You might hear a few snickers around the room when you announce timesheets at your meeting. The longstanding notion that timesheets are a headache hasn’t quite yet left the building. But timesheets from the ’80s have nothing on today’s time management tools.

Today’s tools were built for today’s businesses – integration with your current business online payroll and other applications is easy. Once it’s set up, tasks are automatically placed into the appropriate employees’ timesheets. Your employee only has to login, type in their hours, and click Save. Really, that’s all there is to it. Not only is it not a headache for your employees, but it’s also an incredible time saver for you and your administrative and payroll personnel. With up-to-the-minute timesheets, you can log in at any time and see your real-time project status. There’s no more rounding up paper timecards and manually inputting each employees’ hours just to run a report – the results of which are probably days old by the time your information is entered.

Suggest that your team members record their time at the end of each day. They can download time management apps straight to their smartphone, and since this has become a staple in most people’s lives today, typing in a couple of numbers and clicking Save doesn’t eat into their off-the-clock hours.

More Accurate Reporting

Now, with the help of time management apps , your job costs, profit and loss, and expenditures reports are more accurate than ever before. And sharing these results with your construction team can help instill why you chose to opt for this change in the first place.

Say your company’s staff has been with you for a long time. You’ve not changed any policies in over five years. You implement timesheets, and within a week you notice just how off your numbers have been – for years. For instance, your project managers travel in between builds, sometimes commuting a few hours in between. If they left at 6 am and returned to the office at 5 pm, 11 hours were “clocked” for that day. When you implement timesheets, you may notice that the number of hours your project managers spend working in the field is drastically lowered, because you’re not including ‘virtual hours’ – drive time, lunches, fuel stops, etc. Each of those different aspects of the position is costed to the accounts they apply to, rather than to your labour account. Make sense?

Estimating Jobs Based on Documented History

By sharing the informative results of your new job cost reports with your team, it might open their eyes to the realization that timesheets are meant to help you, the company owner, and not to punish them. Over time, they may come to see that you’re not micromanaging their work efforts – in fact, they could grow more confident in their positions when they see how you’re using the data.

It boosts productivity across the board. Even if you count the time it takes to implement the information gained from timesheets, your ability to estimate jobs and allocate your resources skyrockets. By using a tool such as TSheets, which integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks, your project management becomes much more manageable.

How to Use Timesheets

First, determine the what, who, and when – then, to streamline your implementation of timesheets, establish a clear process with your team.

Things you should explain before you begin tracking time include:

  • When the timesheets need to be submitted
  • Who is responsible for timesheet validation
  • What to do in the event of an absence or a holiday

It’s a good idea to suggest that each employee record their hours on the app at the end of the workday, but no later than, say, 9 pm of the day worked. Since the hours aren’t kept on paper, the employees don’t have to submit physical documentation to HR. However, if you want to be able to run a report on Monday for last week’s jobs, it’s helpful if all team members have already input their hours. Your policy could be to require all employees to record their weekly hours by 6 pm on Friday.

Since there’s no paperwork involved, your payroll department doesn’t have to keep track of anything. Project managers can have access to the employees under them and simply login, make sure hours have been recorded and correctly, and voila. Done.

If there’s a holiday coming up, set your time tracking app to read that as a zero-hour day for all employees, but also as a paid day if your company provides that. In the event someone is absent on a normal workday, you can use the “breaks” feature in TSheets to record unpaid time off. This feature can also be used in the above scenario for holidays, depending on how you wish to record holiday time.

In fact, when you set up TSheets, you can set hours for all types of days you might have:

  • Unpaid sick
  • Unpaid vacation
  • Paid sick
  • Paid vacation
  • Unpaid holiday
  • Paid holiday
  • and, of course, working days

Establish Timesheet Expectations

This is a key aspect of implementing time tracking tools. You know you have at least one overachiever or OCD employee that’s going to make mountains out of molehills. Make it clear from the beginning that this isn’t about tracking every single waking moment of the workday – 80% should suffice. After all, it’s not about checking up on your team, it’s about ensuring accurate reporting and better job costing. One of the ways you can achieve this is by assigning tasks that are going to be tracked within your timesheets software, such as:

  • Anything assigned specifically to a team member or specific team
  • All small tasks that are a part of the larger projects
  • All tasks that are currently a part of your project management system
  • Anything else, even random tasks, that someone outside of a team has requested be tracked, like a client who wants to know how long it took to build their guest house as opposed to the main house

There are also tasks that don’t need tracking, such as:

  • Checking work emails
  • Daily organizational tasks
  • Meetings
  • Activities pertaining to reports

Getting the Team On Board

To gain the full support of your team when you implement time tracking, there are two things you must do – show them how easy it’s going to be, and provide full training and ongoing support.

First, show them TSheets. If you haven’t already, take it for a spin before you bring it in front of your employees. If you’re not able to exude confidence at every turn of the page, your employees can’t, either. In other words, you’ve got to know how easy this is before you can get them to hop on the timesheet train, too.

Hold a meeting at which you demo the product. Call on one of your staff members, maybe the overachiever, and walk them through the process in front of everyone. Have your team member create a timesheet, input some hours, save it, and submit. Have your team break up into smaller teams, and by the end of the meeting, everyone should have walked through each of these steps. If there are any questions during the demonstration, be sure to answer so everyone can hear. Let them know if this is just a trial run to see how it fits with the team or if you’ve decided that the team’s time tracking days are here to stay.

Finally, provide ongoing training and support. You’re no doubt going to have new team members from time to time, so having a policy and use sheet typed up ahead of time that states clear expectations for using the program, as well as concise directions, is a must. From time management to payroll time tracking, QuickBooks has you covered. Learn more about construction accounting.

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