The pros and cons of using timesheets
13th October 2017
Regardless of the size of your business, it can be tricky to keep track of your employees’ work and the hours that they spend in the office. With a smaller business, your time is too important to be spending it monitoring what your team is up to, and even if your business is large enough to have an entire HR team, it can be tough for them to keep on top of hours worked, holidays and so on without a proper system.
One such system that many businesses use involve timesheets. It’s often worth considering implementing timesheets to look after your staff and essential processes. Like any system, timesheets have their pros and cons, so make sure you weigh these up before making the decision on whether they’re right for your business.
Pro: automated systems for improved efficiency
One of the biggest benefits of using timesheets is that it’ll help make a lot of processes more efficient. Payroll is the big winner as everything is automated – no longer do the payroll team need to manually work out how many hours a member of staff has worked that month. Instead a timesheet records it, leaving the HR and payroll staff to work on other projects.
The time you save from implementing timesheets might mean that you can use staff for other work or that a team can be downsized to make financial savings. Ultimately, you’ll find that timesheets make life simpler for your business, and it’s up to you how you capitalise on that.
Pro: lower costs due to accurate invoicing
On the subject of financial savings, timesheets help you to keep track of invoicing, particularly when working as an agency or when using an agency to work for you. Whether you’re tracking how many hours’ work your team has done to invoice a business you’re working for, or you’re monitoring how much work someone has done for you, it helps keep invoices more accurate and therefore ensures fair and correct payment.
It’ll mean that, if you’re invoicing another business, you can show just how much time you’ve put in, so you get paid for the work done. And if you’re monitoring work that’s been done for you, you won’t pay a penny more than you need to. Either way, you’ll reap the financial rewards of a timesheet system.
Pro: track staff behaviour and adapt roles
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been established as a business, the fact is that roles have to develop and change and sometimes be made redundant. Fluidity is key – businesses that are prepared to react with the times tend to succeed more. With a little bit of creative thinking, timesheets can help you with that.
They allow you to identify which departments are having staff stay in the office for longer, and therefore might need a helping hand with resource. Alternatively, you can see which departments are maybe too straight-forward, with employees clocking out early on a regular basis suggesting that their time could be prioritised to be more beneficial to the wider team.
Con: extra work for the staff to carry out
Your payroll and HR staff will love timesheets due to the time they’ll save by having many of their processes automated. Everyone else that works for you may have a different view. Whereas before they were having everything tracked on their behalf, now they’ve got to find part of their working week to complete a timesheet.
It may sound like a minor inconvenience and in all likelihood, that’s exactly what it will be. However, staff may now have more work to do, and you need to keep an eye that employees don’t become upset by having the extra responsibility put on them.
Con: human error is likely
So no matter how much you automate your timesheet system, and how clever your online system is, fundamentally a timesheet relies on some form of human interaction. Therefore, there’s likely to be a high chance of human error at some stage eventually. It may be completely accidental – mistakes are only natural after all – or you may even run the risk of someone manipulating their hours on purpose.
Either way, you need to consider some form of checks to make sure that these errors are caught, and don’t go on to affect payroll. If someone is continuously recording the wrong hours that they’ve been working, you don’t want to be paying them more or less than they’re entitled to, as it can be costly and tricky to sort out when it’s eventually discovered.
Con: morale can be hit if you don’t manage it correctly
If you decide you want to use timesheets for your business, you need to apply it to the whole business. If you start picking and choosing which members of staff use them, there’s a chance that morale could be affected. Employees will wonder why they’re being asked to record their time when others aren’t.
This even applies to you. Employees don’t like to see management being treated differently from themselves, so it’s key that if you want to use timesheets, you should make sure to have everyone working to the same system, right up to the senior management team. Plus it’ll help you to stay organised and keep those efficiency savings going throughout your whole business. You’ll only reap the benefits if everyone is on board.
So are timesheets right for you and your business?
Having considered these options, you may decide that you’d like to consider implementing timesheets for your business. They aren’t for everyone but many businesses do find them to be a useful way of saving time and money, and as long as you’re aware of the potential drawbacks, you can usually find a way of making sure they don’t become an issue.
Why not take a look at our timesheet calculator to see how timesheets could help you? You’ll find our timesheet calculator here, along with more information on timesheet systems.