Motivating staff to submit accurate timesheets on time, is a challenge for nearly every industry and business. Inaccurate time tracking is estimated to cost over 50 million hours in productivity in the USA alone (Market Research Future, 2020). Timesheet mistakes can usually be attributed to staff being: forgetful, not filling them out correctly, or in the worst cases they think they are a waste of time (even when it is a requirement needed for billing clients for their work).
Technology will help avoid timesheets mistakes. Apps or scheduling software help analyse and automate reminder send-outs. Using a collaborative system, where staff can see the value and it matters to them, is far more motivating and inspiring, than getting a big stick.
Here are 3 easy tricks you can use at your work to help prevent timesheet mistakes. Whether you want to use the carrot or the stick, depending on your industry and team.
1: Check if Your Scheduling System, Rostering App, or Software Is Difficult or Out-of-Date
Many businesses are using out-dated systems, often because they have invested many thousands of dollars for the hardware and/or software. These systems required a steep learning curve to make them work. Whilst most of yester-years’ timesheet software may do the job – just not well! Often at a high cost in man-hours.
Timesheet mistakes and issues can easily be traced back to difficult software or apps that are still being used that could easily be replaced. This can save more money in the first 2 months in reclaimed productivity, than the entire cost to switch.
Some easy ways to determine if your timesheet system is out of date include:
- The software or app is no longer supported by the provider.
- Timesheet app takes forever to load when completing.
- The software or app crashes frequently.
- Staff tell you it is difficult to use and navigate.
- It works to a degree but is limited, dated, and leaves room for errors.
- Doesn’t have smart features to assist staff when completing their timesheets.
- Timesheet tracking isn’t its main focus (is an extra feature with other software) such as QuickBooks, SAP Success Factors, etc.
- Doesn’t offer an app available on mobile devices
- Team members are growing less engaged.
Going for big names or sticking to the same scheduling apps may seem the quick and easy solution. Many times, this turns into a costly decision. Businesses aren’t aware of how far scheduling apps and timesheet software have come, through cloud options.
Tommy provides a simplified timesheet App that can be used on your mobile with smart features to help staff. By automating or replacing many of the manual tasks that old timesheet software made so time consuming. The majority of our clients were shocked with how many other issues in their business were resolved (like reducing staff turnover or improving job satisfaction) by just upgrading their software for an app.
2: Time Out Method & Session
It might be tempting to send out e-mail blasts about the common errors team members are making with timesheets. But if you are using an out dated system this is just a time wasting exercise.
If you are the type that would prefer to be feared and use the stick when it comes to timesheets, why not use the Time Out Method?
What is the Time Out Method?
- Organise a training session for everyone to come together.
- Make it mandatory while also fun and inviting, call it the “Time Out Session”.
- This makes it inviting and seem less like a boring work training session or meeting.
- Structure the session to be informative yet involving, practical and concise yet demonstrative and lively.
- Address the costs to the business and how it affects them and their raises or pay.
- Address the common errors people are making and show them the correct way.
- Have everyone sign a form addressing that they attended and know the right procedure and how to complete it correctly now.
- Inform staff, now that they are sure of how to complete the timesheets, penalties will occur moving forward for not having accurate timesheets.
- Use the timeout method (3 strikes in 3 months):
- 3 strikes – they can’t attend functions, events, work parties, or other critical events.
- 6 strikes – Goes against them for their next raise or appraisal.
- 9 strikes – your out.
The policy regarding penalties for not completing Timesheets should be harsh enough to motivate them, but not strict enough that it prevents them from focusing or completing their other work. Calling it something like “Time Out” can be used in any way you feel would motivate staff that it is important yet taking into account, some weeks they may slip, so having a system that is compassionate yet stern is the key.
3: Turn It Into A Collaborative Timesheet System
Creating a collaborative timesheet system between staff & management means sharing accountability while also making it easier for both. As the saying goes, you can get more bees with honey than vinegar. The same is true for creating a positive culture and buzz around completing timesheets accurately and on time.
Some ideas on how to create a collaborative system for accurate timesheets are:
Make it Fun
- Send funny memes or timesheet puns, perhaps jokes to get staff attention.
- This makes it fun, reminds them, and they may start looking forward to getting their timesheet reminder email if it comes with a laugh.
Timesheet Competition Prizes
- Perhaps the staff member that has the highest accuracy can get a gift or prize?
- Maybe a dinner voucher, company item, or ½ work day.
- If company culture permits… pick an outrageous outfit the boss has to wear for a day in the office! Nothing motivates staff more than the chance to share a laugh with the person they respect (and perhaps fear) the most.
- Perhaps a noble or funny title for the best timesheet will work like the “Time Wizard of the Month” for the best and the “xyz” award for the worst.
- No need to be precious about it, but have fun so that people want to have the cool title.
- Picking cultural references or things people can relate to is a great way to take the edge off and make it matter to others.
- Assign each team member a timesheet buddy.
- Both of them need to submit their timesheets accurately and on time or neither is considered to have submitted theirs.
- This requires a bit of finesse, so sweeten the deal by having a prize or award for the best, and a timesheet wall of shame for the worst (use an HR-approved funny photo with their faces on it).
- Switch buddies every quarter to be fair and who knows – you might build a better team if people get out of their bubbles by having buddies in other teams they don’t know or haven’t met yet.
Some staff may argue that they don’t see the importance of submitting timesheets or clocking-in every week correctly and on time. Following up with staff to make sure they have submitted their timesheets can be the job most managers loathe. If you make it fun and involving, it can easily become something that creates team synergy and encourage everyone to get their timesheet correct.