Why Are Your Employees Bad at Filling Out Timesheets?

4 min read

Imagine a girl who’s constantly bugging her boyfriend by asking, “When are we going to get married?” He’s changing the topic. Finally, she goes for the oldest trick in the book by changing the question to “Do you want to get married in May or in September?” That’s exactly what multiple articles on time-tracking issues do to you. Instead of giving you research or solutions, they give you multiple variants of alternative questions like “What do you think is the best way for time tracking for programmers/teachers/doctors/truckers/circus clowns?” or “Do you need a total number of hours worked or reports for each moment spent?” and finally “How do you train your AI to collect timesheets?”

How we spend our life in years

One of the most obvious reasons why employees don’t fill out their reports is because they are afraid that this information is going to be used against them when payday comes. And this seems ridiculous when looking at the statistics on U.S. working hours. Or because it’s too time-consuming — what irony. In the end, the U.S. is the most overworked developed nation in the world!

Countries that work the most hours every year
  • According to the ILO, Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.
  • At least 134 countries have laws setting the maximum length of the work week; the U.S. does not.
  • In the U.S., 8% of males and 66.5% of females work more than 40 hours per week.
  • According to the Center for American Progress on the topic of work and family life balance, in 1960, only 20% of mothers worked. Today, 70% of American children live in households where all adults are employed.

According to the American Time Use Survey of 2017, Americans spent the following hours per day working:

  • On weekdays – 8 hours 35 minutes
  • On weekends – 1 hour 16 minutes

Work-related activities

  • On weekdays – 1 hour 26 minutes
  • On weekends – 48 minutes

Telephone calls, emails, and regular mail

  • On weekdays: 50 minutes
  • On weekends: 27 minutes

By type of employment:

  • Full-time: 8 hours 10 minutes daily
  • Part-time: 5 hours 19 minutes daily
  • People with one job: 7 hours 40 minutes daily
  • People with multiple jobs: 14 hours 55 minutes daily
  • People working for wages and salaries: 8 hours 40 minutes daily
  • The self-employed: 8 hours 47 minutes daily

If we work so hard nationwide, why won’t we get those timesheets in order? Probably because we do so much that keeping track of it becomes yet another burden to bear.

U.S. Modern Workplace Time-Tracking Habits

So much of what you do as a business owner is tracking numbers and enabling your workforce for success. With limited time on your hands, it’s no wonder employees are often in charge of tracking and reporting their hours. Unfortunately, employees who track time manually, as opposed to using time-tracking software, are more likely to report their time inaccurately, which could end up costing you big.

Time Tracking Habits

In February 2017, a survey of 954 adults about their time tracking habits at work was conducted. It showed:

  • 25% use a time-tracking application
  • 25% use paper or a spreadsheet
  • 14% use a touchscreen or kiosk
  • 10% use a punch card
  • 7% use biometrics
  • 7% use a point-of-sale system
  • 3% text or email hours

However, it revealed that some of that data is corrupted. As outdated as paper timesheets and traditional time clocks are, we know from experience that many companies still don’t use a modern time-tracking system. Still, manual time entry is all too common. More than 38% of employees who track time said they still use manual processes such as paper time cards and traditional time clocks — and almost one-fifth of the task force doesn’t even fill out the reports themselves.

Employees Time Tracking

The survey also found that not just part-time employees are tracking time. Of the 954 employees surveyed, 66% were hourly employees and 86% percent of employees who tracked their time were salaried. They’re also tracking time against specific items such as jobs, tasks, and clients. Three-quarters say they classify their time according to this type of criteria.

Small and Mid-Sized Businesses Struggle the Most with Errors

Time Management

Within this survey, 500 small business owners were asked how often they find errors on their employees’ timesheets. Almost 80% of the businesses admitted they regularly must make corrections before they can run payroll. That means that 4 out of 5 small businesses with hourly employees waste time and money every pay period because they can’t rely on their time-tracking system.

  • 56% find errors on one-fourth of employee timesheets
  • 10% find errors on half of the employees’ timesheets
  • 8% find errors on three-quarters of timesheets
  • 6% find errors on all employee timesheets

Just 21% of business owners said their employees never make mistakes when writing down their hours.

The Danger of the Multi-Tasking Guessing Game

Time Management

The complexity of filling in the timesheet for an employee does not exceed 5-10 minutes per day, but only in companies where time-tracking “grew into” management culture and is deeply integrated into the corporate systems. Otherwise, you, as a manager or an executive, face the danger of “reverse engineering” the working day and time reports backward… With modern technology, would it be so hard to supply your team with the tool that allows avoiding “guesstimating,” “reverse engineering,” timesheet errors, and the need to double-check every entry? We at PPM Express took the idea of aggregated data sets and combined them with the audit trail concept to create PPM Express|Time.

This tool eliminates the need to remember what you have been doing by showing you your “digital trail” every day. All the tasks accomplished are documented and shown to you to save or edit. For example, you’ve got two Skype calls of approximately 45 minutes each — you don’t sit with a stopwatch under your desk, do you? But the system does. And what if the clients’ pesky new secretary couldn’t figure out how Microsoft Teams calls work for half an hour? It may seem that this time is lost forever, but with PPM Express time it isn’t.

What if you work with different departments that use different project management tools such as Planner, Jira, or VSTS? Should you come back to each of them at the end of each day to check the data and transfer it manually to your time-tracking app? No, you shouldn’t! PPM Express|Time is here for you. It will aggregate all the tasks into one concise timetable. You can save this data as-is or change your story to be more accurate.

Time Tracking is in Your Employees’ Best Interest

Wasting Time

Many salaried employees put in 40 hours at the office and an additional 20 at home. Keeping track of that time can better clarify where time is actually spent, how well their day is organized, and even if they’re properly compensated for the time they put in. Think about it:

  1. Employees can hold you accountable for unrealistic work expectations.
  2. By tracking time and projects, employees can take charge of their reviews.
  3. Aggregating “first-hand data” helps keep employees organized and protected.
Why Are Your Employees Bad at Filling Out Timesheets?
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