Still, old habits die hard. For some, the prospect of kicking the paper timesheet can be a bit daunting.
That’s where the data comes in. By understanding how other businesses track time—what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong—small businesses can avoid costly pitfalls and take steps to ensure they’re only replicating good practices.
TSheets, a time tracking app, recently set out to unearth that data. Here’s what 731 U.S. workers who manage employee timesheets had to say.
Paper time cards still create confusion, inaccuracies
If you’re still using manual processes to manage employee time, you’re not alone. One in five of the people who took part in the survey relies on paper timesheets; another one in five, old-fashioned punch clocks.
In total, just 45% of those surveyed said they use an electric time tracking system. Yet when asked about their biggest time-related challenge, employee errors were the most common.
For many, that starts with employees forgetting to clock-in in the first place. More than half of respondents said employees sometimes or always forget to track their hours. Others struggle with employees clocking in prior to their shift—one form of time theft.
A lack of training on how to follow the right process only exacerbates the problem:
- 35% of employers provide little or no training to help employees track their time
- 74% of employees aren’t given the chance to review their own time cards
- Employees using a traditional punch clock or paper timesheet were more likely to feel micromanaged
A better way to track time: Automation
Think of it this way: Have you ever received a call from your doctor or dentist, reminding you about an appointment you scheduled six months ago? Have you ever been relieved to receive that call because you spaced the appointment completely and would have missed it otherwise?
Automated time tracking systems are a lot like that. Think automated reminders telling employees it’s time to clock in. Push notifications that let employees know they’ve been clocked in for more than eight hours and might want to clock out.
Some systems, like TSheets, can even send notifications to managers, letting them know when an employee is about to hit overtime for the week, so they can take action and keep their projects on-budget.
Not all automated time trackers have features such as these. But whether your time tracker is basic or fully loaded, here are a few things to keep in mind.
3 tips for successful time tracking
Tip 1: Train your employees on your software of choice
It sounds like a given, yet 21% of business owners said they provide employees with only a little bit of training, while another 14% don’t provide employees with any time tracking training.
Instead of inviting errors, why not train employees so they feel empowered to manage their own time card settings? When employees are able to clock in, clock out, and even edit their time, managers have less to fix. Plus, when it comes to tracking time, an automated system is less likely to leave employees feeling micromanaged.
While 9% of respondents said an electronic system “always” makes them feel micromanaged, 16% said the same for a non-electronic system. Similarly, 24% of those who use a non-electric system said they “never” feel micromanaged, compared to 28% of those who use an electric system.
Tip 2: Don’t skip out on approvals
The research data reveals that for too many workers, timesheet errors are easy to make. But whether an employee forgets to clock out or accidentally writes a 9 instead of a 6 when recording their hours on paper, there’s no damage done—unless you skip the approval step.
According to the survey, 1 in 5 managers don’t approve timesheets, so the only people reviewing time before payroll are the employees themselves. A small 4% of business owners said timesheets aren’t reviewed by anyone—including employees! Imagine forgetting to clock in for a whole day’s work and winding up drastically short come payday.
While 75% of respondents said timesheets are reviewed by managers, 74% said employees aren’t given the chance to review their own time. And that kind of behavior may leave companies open to timesheet errors and payroll disputes.
Time card approval is an important step in the time tracking process. When everyone’s informed, there’s less chance of trouble later. Ask employees to review their time prior to submitting it, then take the time to glance over their weekly timesheets prior to running payroll. Not only will you cut down on timesheet errors and payroll mistakes, but you’ll have a better idea of how your business works.
Tip 3: If you do round employee time, proceed with caution
55% of employers round employee timesheets, primarily because it makes payroll, billing, and invoicing much simpler. That makes sense, given some payroll solutions don’t process seconds, so timesheets must be rounded to the nearest minute.
Unfortunately, timesheet rounding isn’t always done with benevolent—or even unbiased—intent. More than a third of the survey respondents said they round hours down to deliberately reduce employee pay or prevent them from clocking in early.
Not only is this a form of wage theft, but it puts businesses at risk of an expensive wage and hour lawsuit. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) rules are clear regarding timesheet rounding, and even some states, including California, have taken steps to clarify what is and isn’t ok.
The best path forward is to be transparent with employees. Let them know if and why your business uses timesheet rounding. In addition, make sure your timesheet rounding all happens in the same direction, so the time that’s taken and added balances out.
How to find the right time tracking system for you
Time tracking technology has come a long way from the punch clocks our grandparents used. If you’re still employing that same outdated tech today, you’re missing out on a world of information.
Automated time tracking doesn’t just help employees clock in and out. The best tools come with scheduling, job costing, and even GPS location tracking to help employers manage workers on the go.
Not sure what system is right for you? Check out the top five-time tracking apps in the QuickBooks app store. When employers and employees work together to track time correctly, there’s no better recipe for success.