How do timesheets work?


An essential part of running any successful business, implementing effective timesheet management can make the difference between running a tight ship and encountering endless problems.

So, how are timesheets deployed in a business, how to make a timesheet for your business,  and what can you do to improve them in a way that works for you?

What is a timesheet?

Timesheets track the number of hours or ‘time’ employees spend on their work. This can be segmented on a day-by-day basis, account for project work, actions for a specific client, or however you choose to operate.

These are completed by the individual and then submitted – normally on a monthly basis – allowing businesses to capture information about work executed to date. Where these used to take the form of physical slips and dockets, modern businesses increasingly use digital software platforms to capture and process data. Or, where an extensive physical solution already exists, a hybrid platform can be put in place as a permanent or stage solution that addresses ongoing issues.

These can allow for the creation of custom forms and ensure that all essential data is captured in a timely manner.

However, this is not always the case.

For many businesses, timesheet management is an ongoing bugbear that requires continual care and attention. Forms are often incorrectly completed and tendered late – if at all. This can result in members of the department getting involved in ‘chaser’ engagement to follow up on issues with submission. This can quickly produce logjams for smaller companies and a culture of acceptance for larger businesses that swallow the wastage of effort as a simple cost of doing business.

Taking the time to understand your unique timesheet needs and the opportunities in the current marketplace for tailored care can bring significant benefit to your business…and help your teams keep their “Just following up” emails to a minimum.

How do they work?

While there may be differences in the payroll process between companies, most businesses follow standard timesheet procedure. This will involve providing the employee with a template or form to record the hours worked and the facility to add any notes or incidentals that should be factored in. As standard, this should record when an employee or contractor starts or ends their day, takes a break, and engages in project specific tasks when working across a range of clients.

Once this is captured, it is passed to your internal team to calculate their wages and payroll. This involves making any required deductions such as National Insurance contributions, student loans, child maintenance or other values.

When it comes to invoicing, employees are required to be honest and accurate when it comes to providing their information. Outside of this, your company is required to carry out a range of payroll tasks and ensure that their liabilities are accurately calculated, and the payroll register is fully up to date.

Why do we need them?

Timesheets forms the backbone of a business for a number of reasons, these include-

Wage Management: Being able to pay employees accurately and in a timely manner is an essential part of a business and any disruptions can cause serious issues. This can result in overpayment which may result in morale damage or underpayment, which can result in frustration for employees or potential legal action. Issues around payroll or timesheets will often take time and resource to resolve – making them a high-priority issue for supervisors and all professionals involved.

Data Collection: Capturing accurate timesheet data is essential when it comes to improving your business approach and providing accurate estimates for future work. Gathering this data can allow you to acquire oversight of the realities of real-world costs and play a vital role in project management. While paper timesheets can be easy for individuals to complete, ‘going digital’ can allow professionals to complete their timesheets on smart devices, receive non-intrusive reminders to complete their submission, and give peace of mind about where they are currently sitting in your payroll pipeline. This keeps all parties fully aware of the process and reduces bad-feeling or frustration in the event of delays or other unavoidable issues. 

Efficiency: Getting timesheet management right takes significant time and effort. If your business grants employees a high degree of autonomy, outsources heavily, or has high staff turnover – issues around timesheet completion can be significant. If your timesheet management actions are not optimised, this can result in excessive resource expenditure, issues, or ongoing resource drain as your teams struggle to complete their tasks.

In summary, deploying a digital or cloud-based solution can make a massive difference when it comes to managing your work and allow for increased oversight, accuracy, and error reduction when it matters most.


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