I would not rate filling out my timesheet as one of the tasks I look forward to with breathless anticipation every day. Even as an employee at a time tracking software company, it’s another task I have to add to my to-do list and carve out time in my already hectic week to do.

I’ve talked about in a previous blog post how employees hate tracking their time, and unless you’ve devised a super-creative, fun, and incentivized way for them to fill out and submit their timesheets, it’s probably not something they’re ever going to love doing, either. There are several reasons for this I’ll reiterate here:

  1. Filling them out is perceived as hard or time consuming.
  2. Gathering the information is pointless because it isn’t useful.
  3. The data is used by management to “spy” on employees or make a case for poor performance.
  4. They view their work as an “art” that couldn’t be adequately measured.

Do any of these reasons sound familiar to you? If so, you’ll have some hurdles to overcome, especially if certain aspects of your company culture have fueled the flames of an anti-timesheet sentiment.

Don’t give up, though – it can be done! By implementing ways to make time tracking easier and more transparent, your employees will soon be singing songs of love about their timesheets!

OK, maybe not quite; but at least they won’t despise it and they’ll be more inclined to fill them out on time.

Today, let’s start here:

3 Words: Make It Easy

How are you asking employees to fill out their timesheets now? Take a good look at your current timesheet system and ask yourself the following:

  1. How long does it generally take to fill out a timesheet?
  2. How intuitive/user-friendly is that system?
  3. How many different places are employees required to input time?

The answers to these questions will help you determine the difficulty level of your current system. If it takes more than 15-20 minutes to complete a timesheet (depending on the different employee roles and requirements), and much of that time is spent putting that time into more than one system (i.e. one for projects, one for payroll, etc.), then it’s time to think about ways to make it easier.

How can you do that? Here are some possibilities to consider:

  • The first, most crucial step is to talk with different departments to get a clearer idea of how and why they track time, and what will make it easier for them. Each department will likely have different requirements, so having this discussion with each one to learn this information will be time-consuming; however, it will be well worth it.
  • Consolidate time tracking into one system that groups all time reporting activities together and syncs the data into your other systems (payroll, projects, ERP, etc).
  • Consider a system that automatically populates timesheets with information from other places, like calendars, task lists, and project management systems. This will make it even quicker for employees to fill out their timesheets.
  • Don’t forget about those who must administer the system and/or process the timesheets! They’ll need easy-to-use features that allow for quicker approvals, data validation, and accruals management.
  • If you have field employees, don’t give them only one way to enter their time data. If they have no choice but to fill out their timesheets on their desktops, then you’re making them take an extra step they shouldn’t have to take. A system with mobile time tracking will allow them to enter their time from anywhere, on any device.

Next time, I’ll talk about how to make time tracking more transparent to employees, so they see how the data is being used.