Every founder wants the same thing: to know that their employees are all working effectively and productively each day for the benefit of their business.
But as your company grows, it can be more difficult to keep track of what everyone is up to, and where people are spending their time.
This can lead to you feeling out-of-the-loop and as if your company is running without you. What’s worse, having less of an understanding of what people are doing each day can lead to your company running inefficiently and wastefully.
To make sure this doesn’t happen, you can start having your employees fill in timesheets each day, where they log what they were working on for every hour they’re in the office.
Timesheets provide a simple solution to problems that can affect growing companies and can help to minimize waste and improve employee productivity.
Used by companies large and small, and favored by agencies, remote teams, and growing startups, employee timesheets are a quick and easy way to make a meaningful change to the way your business runs. They can take the form of paper printouts that individual employees keep at their desks and hand in at the end of each week, an online shared document that everyone fills out each day, or a powerful and automated online timesheet software that runs in the background and monitors what your employees are working on.
Hubstaff has a free printable timesheet template available for a free download.
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The benefits of timesheets
Reduce time waste by measuring productivity
Employee timesheets can help to quantify time sucks or roadblocks and help managers and executives take better leadership decisions that can reduce time waste and help encourage employees to work productively.
Being able to see what everyone is working on and how long they spend working throughout the day, not only informs better decisions, but can also make you a more empathetic leader, as you understand intimately how hard your employees are working and the sacrifices they are making to help you grow your business. Showing empathy at work can inspire your employees to commit to their jobs more readily, make greater sacrifices, and can make your team better respect you as a leader — all things that can greatly boost your business’ chance of success.
How employee timesheets help agencies up their game
Bill more accurately
If you run an agency or a client-facing business, timesheets ARE a great way to reassure your clients that projects are being handled effectively, efficiently, and productively, and that their money is not being wasted. What’s more, being able to justify all of your invoices and billed hours through concrete, impartial reports and independent trackers means that your clients will have less room to maneuver when it comes to payments. This way, your agency will be able to bill what it deserves.
As well as helping you justify your costs, a powerful timesheet software solution can help you to avoid the dreaded email back-and-forth where clients repeatedly check up on a project’s progress. This makes it easy for clients to see what is being worked on right now, how much time is being dedicated to projects, and how much progress is being made each day.
Track project costs
Being able to keep track of whether you are making or losing money on a project is one of the most important benefits of using timesheets. If you’re providing a client a fixed-fee, you’ll be able to monitor how much time is being spent on a project (and the spend-per-hour), so that you don’t end up losing money.
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Increase efficiency based on powerful insights
Having such a deep level of insight into how your company spends its time can also help you to make big improvements in the way your company runs its projects.
If you see that your employees repeatedly fall down at the same stage of a project, whether it’s planning or final execution, you and your team leaders can investigate to see what’s creating the roadblock. This can help you make refinements to workflows, processes, or even the way your team communicates, and this can only be achieved by intimately knowing exactly how your company is running each hour of the day.
Save your company money through better HR
Better understanding your business, and having concrete information that tells you exactly what your employees are working on each day, can help you to make substantial and necessary savings that can make your business more profitable.
Time record sheets let you spot which of your workers is most productive and effective by letting you compare their output and the time they spent working. This means that you can quickly and clearly see which employees you should reward, and spot which employees are costing your business money through poor performance and time wasting.
Being better informed also means that you can make better decisions around resourcing and staffing, and can avoid costly hiring mistakes (like bringing on more staff when the workload can’t support it).
Timesheets can also act as a great way to increase the productivity of your employees by offering them an impartial way to track their own performance and output. This is a great tool for employees to show progress and work completed.
Read our guide on employee productivity metrics.
How to get employees to fill out timesheets (on time)
The benefits of using employee timesheets in your company are pretty clear. They are an inexpensive and easy way to make your business run better, your clients happier, and your employees more productive.
But how do you get teams to fill them out on time, and without annoying your employees?
Start from the top
To get started, create a top-down approach and mandate that all of your top-level employees (including yourself) start using timesheets for every work day.
Starting with your highest-ranking employees first, and then rolling the practice out to the rest of your teams, will make your employees less likely to feel that the time record sheets are being implemented to watch over them, and more likely to accept it as a smart business decision.
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Incentivize your employees
To make the transition to timesheets even smoother, encourage competition between employees and teams – give out monthly awards for the most productive and efficient team or employee, and make the process of tracking time an activity that your employees will want to do. If you don’t want to give your employees prizes of value, you can reward them with things like 30 minutes of comp time, or an extra half-day of vacation. These incentives are worth working for, and will help your employees embrace the timesheets.
On top of this, create a culture of transparency in your workplace, where all employee timesheets (yours and your executives’ included) are shared among every worker. That way, you can all see what everyone is working on, and less productive employees will feel slightly pressured to increase their productivity to bring it in line with their peers.
While timesheets themselves have lots of benefits, you will only get the most out of them if you implement them effectively – if your employees hate filling them out, and are suspicious of your motives, the practice won’t pay off as well as if they embrace them and enjoy using them.
To avoid one of the biggest burdens that comes with using employee timesheets (remembering to fill them in regularly and on time), consider using powerful time-tracking software that automatically tracks the time you spend on projects.
Software like Hubstaff can make using timesheets much easier as the process is automated and happens behind-the-scenes.
This means that your employees don’t have to repeatedly remember to fill out exactly what they’re doing each hour of the day, and they will be able to focus on their work.
Hubstaff and other time tracking software can also capture screenshots of your employees’ computers, monitor the apps and URLs they use and visit while the timer is running, and benchmark and compare employee activity levels – all of these features will help you better understand what is being worked on and where time is being spent.
Interested in exploring more? Read our guide on best timesheet apps of 2019.
How to introduce a timesheet software in your business
If you’ve found the right timesheet software for your business, you can easily implement it into your company’s workflow by following a straightforward process.
As mentioned above, start the rollout of timesheet software at the beginning with your company’s leadership. Announce to your company that all executives and managers are to start using timesheet software and time trackers, and that they will soon roll out to all of your employees.
Once you have done this, create a culture of time tracking and time management in your company. Try to make responsible time management and productivity a part of the fabric of your enterprise.
Beyond this, look to integrate time tracking software with all the apps in your company’s workflow. If you regularly use project management apps like Asana, Basecamp, or Trello, choose time tracking software that integrates with those and allows you to seamlessly transition to a fully automated time tracking system.
Are you ready to implement timesheets in your organization?
If you’re ready to implement timesheets in your business, remember to be clear and transparent with your employees and make it something they will want to use – only then will you see all of the benefits they have to offer.
This post was originally published in August 2016, and was updated June 2019.