How to avoid timesheet errors

Sep 28, 2022
min read

How to prevent the most frequently made scheduling errors

Time – it’s one of the most valuable things tracked and needed in a business. Timesheets are a typical way for businesses to record employees’ working hours to ensure they are paid properly for their time. It sounds simple enough, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Timesheets are often subject to errors that result in lost money, extra administrative work, and huge headaches for everyone involved. And while one error here and there doesn’t seem too bad, these costs can add up – which is why it’s best to avoid them to begin with. 

Thankfully, there are ways to prevent timesheet errors. In this blog, we’ll go over the most common timesheet errors, and how to ensure your team tracks time accurately so you can avoid them.

Different types of timesheets 

Before we dive into common timesheet errors, let’s establish the difference between the two types of timesheets commonly used across various industries: paper and digital timesheets. Which one a business uses is entirely up to leadership; both timesheets are alike in that they track attendance and hours worked for employees so they are paid accordingly. 

Paper timesheets are spreadsheets or pieces of paper that employees record their hours on manually with a pen or pencil. They typically indicate start and end times for shifts, as well as breaks and overtime. Total hours worked is calculated by a manager to ensure the employees are paid accurately. 

On the other hand, digital timesheets make time tracking easier by automatically calculating hours worked, taking into account breaks and overtime pay. Typically, a digital timesheet means software is being used to clock employees in and out of their shifts, and manager override is required to make any changes to shift times. 

While each has their own advantages and disadvantages, digital timesheets are widely used as they streamline the process for managers by automating calculations.

What are the most common timesheet errors? 

Even a tight-run ship with the most diligent team members can struggle with timesheet errors – because we’re only human, and mistakes happen. But familiarizing yourself with common timesheet errors is one step you can take to avoid making them. Here is a list of common errors to look out for. 

Typing errors

Timesheets that are completed manually often require that employees write in their hours by hand. In the case of illegible handwriting, managers may have a hard time deciphering the exact numbers on a timesheet – a 1 and 7 can look very alike when an employee has messy penmanship! At the same time, when transferring paper timesheet data into a computer to complete calculations, managers might mistakenly press one key instead of another without realizing. These mistakes result in inaccurate hours tracked and mistakes in payroll

Incorrect totals

Managers, or whoever is in charge of timesheets, can make mistakes when performing calculations for total hours worked – perhaps due to mathematical errors, mixing up numbers, or as a result of a typing error.

Stolen time

This error is a result of employees inputting incorrect hours worked. It could be in the form of breaks (e.g. an employee takes a longer break than they record, or forgets to take a break at all), mistakes with clocking in/out, or when an employee clocks in/out for another employee without that employee actually being there. It could also mean employees spending their tracked time doing things that are not work related, such as browsing social media. Whatever the form, stolen time can result in employees being underpaid or overpaid.

Lost or damaged timesheets

This error is an occurrence with paper timesheets. When a paper timesheet is left lying around, it’s subject to spills, other accidents, or even being misplaced, resulting in a loss of all the data it held. A lost or damaged timesheet would mean that employees have to re-input their hours worked, which may not be accurate.

How to avoid errors

As you become familiar with timesheet errors, and which ones happen most often amongst your team, you can take necessary steps to avoid them. To get you started, here are a few tips.

Have a conversation with your team 

Start by having a conversation with your team about the importance of accurate time tracking. Timesheet errors result in inaccurate payroll, and this causes headaches not only for managers and supervisors, but for employees that have been over or underpaid. Make sure there are clear expectations set for time tracking, so employees understand how important it is. 

If your company has a time theft policy, be sure to communicate this with your team, as well, so they are aware of how serious it is and the consequences that can occur. At the end of the day, honesty is crucial to build trust amongst managers and employees.

Consider updating your template 

If mistakes seem to happen often with your current time tracking template, it’s probably time for an update. For example, if your business is using a weekly timesheet to track hours, moving to a daily timesheet may help organize things better for managers. 

If you’re currently using a paper timesheet, you can consider having employees input information into Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel to ensure calculations are always accurate. You can also opt to add additional columns for additional accuracy (e.g. instead of one column for “break” where an employee would just put in one number, you can add one for “break start” and “break end”). Even a small change, such as giving employees more space to write, might make things easier!

Stay consistent with strategy

Once you find a strategy that works for your team, stick to it. Don’t change things up out of the blue; keeping things consistent will make time tracking a habit for employees, which hopefully results in more accurate timesheets. Also ensure you have protocols in place for reviewing and approving timesheets for additional accuracy. 

Consider HRIS software

Finally, consider using an HRIS software that streamlines your scheduling and time tracking processes. Paper timesheets run into the most errors, and while digital timesheets like spreadsheets or other online time tracking are better, they are still subject to manual errors.

Time tracking software, like Ameego, is the best way to cut down on your timesheet errors. Ameego streamlines your time-clocking, labor compliance, and payroll by automating many of the processes that are often subject to manual errors. With software, you won’t have to guess if your employee wrote a 6 or an 8 – everything is tracked digitally to ensure accuracy. 

Get started with Ameego

Ameego’s time tracking and scheduling software is a foolproof way to achieve accurate time tracking. With Ameego, you get:

  • Easy punch ins/outs
  • A central dashboard to visualize all shifts for the day
  • Notifications for labor overspend 
  • Automatically populated payroll data

Best of all, Ameego integrates with the Humi platform, so you can streamline your time tracking and scheduling with all of your other HR operations, including time off, reports, and performance management.

Speak with our team today to see how Ameego can help your business. 

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