Tommy Associates Pty Ltd

How to Avoid the Biggest Timesheet Mistakes


Timesheets aren’t going anywhere. Staff will come and go, but getting a timesheet system in place that works is crucial for any business to grow and thrive in 2022. See our article 3 Easy Tricks to Avoid Timesheet Mistakes so you can prevent this from happening to your business.

Whether you use scheduling software, rostering apps, or still make schedules by hand or using an excel spreadsheet for the weekly schedules, saving time with timesheets provides additional time to focus on what truly matters. By avoiding these timesheet mistakes you can save money from preventing costly mistakes and you will save your team’s sanity.

The two biggest mistakes businesses can make are either:

  • Jumping into a costly investment with complicated software and features that their staff can’t or won’t use, or alternatively.
  • Sticking with an inefficient timesheet system that does the job but at the cost of productivity and precious time.

Investing in a Solution That Becomes a Costly New Problem

When it comes to scheduling and rostering for a business, the biggest mistake a business can make is diving into a potential solution without proper testing and research. Being proactive does save time and money, like deciding to invest and upgrade you timesheet system… but don’t be sold or reactive emotionally, as moving too fast can turn your investment into a costly new problem.

  • When your timesheet system is easy for staff to use and becomes part of their workflow, it requires less management.
  • Sometimes this could be replacing your scheduling software, or other times as simple as creating a new timesheet layout, process, or sending funny puns and putting up meme’s to use the carrot vs the stick (see our article 3 Easy Tricks To Avoid Timesheet Mistakes).

Accurate timesheets lead to accurate scheduling, costing, forecasting, and helps managers keep their sanity and the business keep their lights on. Sales people are great at selling you the solution to your problem in their software, but the wise know convenience comes at a cost where due diligence pays in spades.

Inefficient Timesheets Cost More than Just Time

Some of the common timesheet mistakes many businesses and manager’s face can be directly linked to the issue of inaccurate timesheets. Shift workers across every industry from construction, healthcare, and hospitality to retail have dealt with the pains of timesheets.

  • For staff, it could be the extra work clocking in and out using a complex or out-dated system – so they don’t engage with it.
  • For managers, it could be ensuring staff clock in and out and submit accurate timesheets on time or scheduling staff with minimum changes required – managing staff vs the growth of the business.
  • For owners, it’s working with both staff and managers to resolve their headaches around scheduling and timesheets to help their records and financials – without the business eating all the profits.

Easy pitfalls and mistakes many managers deal with when it comes to staff scheduling include:

  • Scheduling staff when they requested off or are unavailable to work at that time– so they quit.
  • Creating weekly schedules that require many changes – so no one has the same work schedule.
  • Ineffective systems for managers following up with staff to submit their timesheets correctly and on time – so customers get subpar customer service.
  • Correcting inaccurate timesheets and additional costs to make up for lost hours for staff – blowing budgets and projections.
  • Ineffective labour management and scheduling – eats away profits and revenue and owners have to consider a 2nd mortgage.
  • Managers forced to spend more time and energy managing their teams and scheduling them – versus growing the businesses reputation through quality control and customer service.
  • The extra time and work (not to mention costs) correcting records, payroll and pay checks – paying extra taxes and losing out on profits.

Buddy Punching Isn’t a Managers Buddy

Buddy punching costs employers an estimated total of $373 million per year across the U.S. in payroll costs, according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics. For Australian’s it’s about $1.5 billion a year in workplace theft for timesheet costs, according to the Australian Federal Police statistics.

For construction or companies with remote workers or big project teams, buddy punching is a major issue. Buddy punching is when staff clock in friends or co-workers to get paid when they aren’t on-site. Managers in hospitality, retail, and other shift workers are concerned about staff exploiting loops in their scheduling system, such as early clock in’s or late clock out’s costing the business unnecessary costs.

This cost to companies is money in the short term but if unchecked (especially in difficult times such as COVID), it could prevent expansion if sales plummet and you’re operating on a slim profit margin. Effective timesheet apps that don’t allow buddy punching could save you thousands of dollars – or even the life of your business if taken care of before it’s a problem.

How to Avoid Common Timesheet Mistakes

Once you identify your common timesheet mistake, the solution can be as easy as:

  • Develop a scheduling strategy (see our article 4 Tips for Easier Staff Scheduling).
  • Setting a weekly reminder for staff.
  • Changing your schedule template to one that is easier to use and navigate.
  • Be consistent with releasing the schedule the same time and day every week (as well as the same deadline for submitting).
  • Run a workshop meeting with staff to demonstrate best practices and flag any issues.
  • Upgrading to an app or software that is mobile (staff won’t lose their copy and have the same schedule if it has been updated).
  • Configure features in software/app to automate and simplify recurring schedules.

Identifying what is your scheduling Achilles heel by thinking what is the most common scheduling mistake or issue that keeps occurring, helps determine where to focus your energy and attention first. This is where to start your work to improve scheduling and timesheet efficiency and expand the profitability of your business.

Get involvement and buy-in from staff for the scheduling or timesheet system to make it easier and less of a pain for them to use, as it will be less of a pain to get them to submit accurate timesheets  if they are on board.