Paper timesheets are horrible. So why does anyone still use them?

Business Insights

The modern trend for flexible working, where a large proportion of staff no longer work 9-5 and many work part time or from disparate locations, makes recording hours worked increasingly difficult. Yet one of the most important tasks a manger has to perform is to ensure that employees are paid correctly and on time. Unhappy, unpaid employees = poor business performance. Overpaid employees = angry business owners/shareholders.

All employers need to be able to ensure that hours worked are correctly recorded, especially for staff working off-site. The traditional method of paper time sheets is time consuming and very inefficient, and it is common knowledge that paper timesheets are prone to errors, “time theft”, and make doing payroll a dreadful task that requires hours of back office work. The chance for human error is further multiplied when hours are re-entered into the payroll system, and can lead to over or understating time that employees have worked causing unnecessary problems and losses, particularly when staff work away from base.

Many organisations still using paper time sheets give reasons for doing so that just don’t stack up, but the underlying reason is that people tend to stick to what they know and resist change. Folk will say things along the lines of it being an easy system to use, that one can see at a glance the hours employees have worked, that all the information staff have entered will be accurate (a somewhat questionable assertion) and that employees know and understand the system. It must be conceded that in our multi connected world to still be shuffling pieces of paper is time consuming and inefficient, when the technology is there to provide a simple, easy to understand, quick to use and efficient solution.

Technology has brought us all closer to work, even when we are not sat at our desks, even enabling us to have face to face meetings via video conferencing and emails on our phones. Businesses are now increasingly researching the uses of technology to be more accurately recording employee hours in the light of to-day’s more flexible working arrangements.

The businesses with systems in place to cater for flexible working arrangements can attract better talent, improve job satisfaction, reduce absenteeism and more importantly improve wellbeing in the workplace. One of the key aspects to achieving a good work – life balance is the feeling that we have some control over our workload. Being able to beat the traffic and get into work early, then leave earlier to do the school run, or arrive a little later, but then stay later, leads to people starting their day feeling much calmer.

A mechanism for recording the hours worked and not worked will evidently be required - be that manually reconciled time sheets, which are, as previously discussed, extremely labour intensive and error prone, or a professional Time and Attendance solution.

For on-site employees many organisations still rely on a traditional punch card system which records in and out, but doesn’t record where an employee is if they don’t punch out when they take an unauthorized break, also there is no way of telling if they have asked a colleague to clock in for them, so this too is a system prone to error or employee mis-use. Some businesses overcome this by using a bio identifier such as a finger or thumb print, for access and egress, but this can be very expensive to install and inconvenient for businesses with a high staff turnover, yet still doesn’t help when employees are working off site.

Systems which use aps incorporating GPS Tracking are used increasingly to monitor staff such as delivery drivers and service personnel whose roles necessitate them working away from base and can be extended to other employees who work away from base such as salespeople. The use of these apps however, supposes a smart phone, which not everyone might have.

We spoke to Steven Aaron from time and employee management company Telephone Timesheets who explained that it is important that any time management system be easy for employee to use, so that they have can have confidence that they will be paid properly and on time, be accurate for payroll and have a built in element by which employers can verify that their off-site staff are at work when and where they say they are.

The simple system doesn’t require any administrative set up or employee training, just a telephone call. The system includes Late/Early/No show notifications, GPS location tagging, auto discovery of new employees and custom reports. For a free trial visit and click on the “Free Trial” button.