Timecard Tips for Solving Late Timecards for Good

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Liz Strikwerda

Content strategist and corporate blogger (2000+ posts). Her work has been featured on G2's Learning Hub, Human Resources Today, Better Buys and over 500 business websites. She plays bluegrass mandolin and enjoys sailing her catamaran and hiking in the red rock wilderness of southern Utah. Connect with me on LinkedIn

Employee time tracking apps make sure employees turn in timecards – because the app does it for them. As each staff member punches in with a physical or web-based clock, the software creates timecards and updates work hours in real-time.

Mobile time tracking apps help managers approve timecards on time. When timecards live online, managers can approve them from their mobile phone. A mobile timekeeping app can help companies provide hybrid working while keeping tabs on labor costs.

WorkforceHub integrates with several 'intelligent' employee time clocks. 'Intelligent' means that they are aware of the employee's punch status and only present logical options. In addition, you can create custom prompts to collect information at punch-in. For example, job codes or health status. Plus, they can enforce schedules with clock lockout.

When your managers don't have to correct timecard errors or police shifts, they have more hours to get things done. Those hours can be used to grow your business. Productivity just went from zero to sixty in 3.5 seconds.

Managers hate to nag about an employee’s timecard. It can feel like a power struggle with a bunch of five-year-olds. You hire competent professionals. You don’t want to think of them as kids who refuse to pick up their toys.

Getting employees to turn in timecards is a problem that has plagued employers since the Industrial Revolution.

But many companies have solved the late timecard dilemma. You can too.

Timecard Tips To Make Sure Employees are Turning in Their Timecards

  1. Find out why
  2. Solve the problems
  3. Hold managers accountable
  4. Create a discipline policy
  5. Train employees and managers
  6. Get an employee timekeeping system

Find Out Why Employees Aren’t Turning in Timecards

Maybe they don’t understand the system or appreciate the importance of tracking work hours. (This is a head-scratcher because most employees want to get paid.)

If they don’t understand the system, it’s time for basic employee timecard training. First, create a process with deadlines. Secondly, add it to your onboarding documents. Thirdly, periodically give everyone a refresher course. Lastly, have all employees sign a document acknowledging that they understand the process and agree to follow it.

Automate Reminders

Do they forget?

Try email reminders or texts. Automated employee timekeeping systems have built-in alerts. You can sync them to your payroll schedule so employees have fair warning to turn in their timesheet.

Can’t access the system?

If you have paper timecards, this puts mobile employees at a disadvantage. Inexpensive web-based time tracking apps can help. That way, your remote employees can punch in with their phone.

Employee time reporting systems synced to time clocks create timecards automatically. You might have to remind your employees to punch in, but you won’t have to remind them to turn in their timecards.

Hold Your Managers Accountable

The timecard burden shouldn’t fall on the HR director or payroll manager. Turning in timecards is a primary job function. As an essential job role, managers should hold employees accountable.

Certainly, your managers are in a better position to know what’s really going on. If your managers are competent, they can solve your late timecard problem.

However, if they can’t, you have more than late timecards to worry about.

Timecard Discipline: How To Create a Progressive Discipline Policy for Late Timecards

Progressive discipline policies start with a warning. For repeat infractions, the penalties increase in severity.

Here’s an example:

  1. First offense: verbal warning
  2. Second offense: written warning
  3. Third offense: suspension
  4. Fourth offense: termination

Some companies skip the suspension step because it brings its own problems.

Time for Timecard Training

Unified HR portals make it easy to create training programs. They provide electronic document management that simplifies training and onboarding. With electronic signature, employees can verify they understand and agree to your time and attendance policy.

How Do I End Late Timecard Excuses?

  • ‘It’s too confusing:’ Make the process simple.
  • ‘I was out of the office:’ Use a web-based timekeeping app.
  • ‘I forget:’ Use a timekeeping app with built-in reminders and alerts.

Explain the Big Picture

You should not have to do this. That said, you have to do this.

It’s no mystery why payroll needs timesheets. Whether your employees are hourly or salaried, you can’t cut checks without hours. Furthermore, you can’t bill clients. A secondary reason (but no less important) is that you can’t plan projects. Billable time records show how employee hours break down per project or client. Finally, you can’t stay on the good side of the DOL without accurate timesheets.

Why Are Accurate Timecards Critical?

Get an Employee Timekeeping System

Automated employee timekeeping combined with a straightforward process is the best solution.

Consider the advantages of automated employee time tracking:

  1. Digital timecards
    • Managers can access anytime from a mobile device
    • Employees can access anytime from a mobile device
    • Import employee time data automatically to payroll
  2. Alerts and reminders
  3. Syncs to a physical or web-based time clock

Those are the must-haves for automated employee time tracking.

Here are the nice-to-haves:

  • Breaks and meals tracking
  • ‘Employee-aware’ prompts
  • Schedule lockouts
  • Synced to employee scheduling
  • Shift trade board

If you are planning to get a timekeeping app, you might as well solve other problems. It won’t cost you any more.

Mobile Time Tracking Apps Solve Manager Timesheet Delays

Mobile time tracking apps help managers approve timecards on time. When timecards live online, managers can approve them from their mobile phone. A mobile timekeeping app can help companies provide hybrid working while keeping tabs on labor costs.

Online Timecards Are Never Late

Employee time tracking apps make sure employees turn in timecards – because the app does it for them. As each staff member punches in with a physical or web-based clock, the software creates timecards and updates work hours in real-time.

Solve the End-of-Pay-Period Timecard Scramble

  1. The system creates online timecards
  2. Supervisors can approve them from a mobile device
  3. The payroll manager imports the timesheets into your payroll system without manual keying

Timecard Compliance Q & A

Timecards have many compliance implications. Here are answers to important legal questions:

Do I Have to Pay When an Employee Doesn’t Turn in a Timesheet?

Yes. You can’t withhold pay. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), it’s the employer’s responsibility to keep records of the employee’s hours.

What Should I Do if an Employee Doesn’t Turn in Their Timecard?

Estimate from past pay periods. Either with timesheets or project hours. Note that you will have to correct any discrepancies on their next paycheck. Document your efforts to get the information and create a paper trail to protect you in case of a Department of Labor (DOL) audit. HR portals simplify recordkeeping requirements.

If an Employee Agrees to Work Off-The Clock, Can I Make it up Next Paycheck?

No. Some employers try to avoid paying overtime by off-the-clock work and plan to make it up to the employee when the deadline crunch is over. (Hopefully.)

Nice try. Whether you are planning to pay overtime next paycheck — or straight time — this is illegal.

Timecard Efficiency: Why Is It Important?

There are three good reasons to worry about timecard approval efficiency…

Reason 1: Timecard processing costs money

The more employees you have, the longer it will take. Time is money, so they say, and so every new employee will cost a little more in administration.

In addition, optimizing the process of collecting, approving, and processing timecards will save money. It will also let your employees get back to making widgets.

Minimizing administrative processes is a key goal in profitability. Timecard processing is a big one with plenty of room for savings.

Reason 2: Timecard processing takes time away from productivity

Focused managers increase efficiency and production. When managers take time out to perform administrative tasks, they take their eye off the ball.

You can argue that administration is part of a manager’s task, but not when it isn’t necessary. Modern software and automation have reduced necessity.

Workforce managers who are spending time on time card processing are doing it wrong. It is costing the company.

Reason 3: Many timecard approval processes foster mistakes

As if you haven’t heard ‘time and money’ enough, this last one is both.

Timecard approval problems compound when there are mistakes.

Mistakes can cost the company money in the form of overpayments. When hours aren’t correct, or a transcription error adds time, the company pays more than it should.

When an employee discovers a mistake, it can take hours to find the source and correct the problem.

Hours spent hunting for mistakes cost the company in two ways:

  1. Hunting for mistakes and solutions means employees aren’t producing.
  2. Doubling back on work already done means the company is paying twice for the same result.

3 Things You Can Do Right Now

1. Automate Time and Attendance

If you haven’t upgraded your time and attendance system, the time is now. You are losing money.

Automated time and attendance will save you more than it costs. WorkforceHub is an automated time and labor system. It runs in the cloud, is easy to install, and saves you time and money.

To use WorkforceHub, all you need is a web browser. Your employees can clock in with any internet-connected device. It’s cloud-based, so the infrastructure is already in place.

WorkforceHub uses employee punches to create a digital timecard for each worker. There’s no need to fill out paper timecards; everything is automated and paperless.

WorkforceHub brings simplicity and efficiency to timecard processing. It can be set up quickly — so don’t worry about a bumpy transition period. This is something you can do right now to start saving money.

Do you have several locations or mobile employees? No sweat. It’s ideal for organizations with geographically-dispersed teams. Employees can access the system anytime, and anywhere with the mobile timecard app.

It also integrates with your payroll system — whether in-house or outsourced. Fast timecard approval ensures that everyone gets their paychecks on time.

Solution to do now: get WorkforceHub.

2. Streamline Approvals

With WorkforceHub, you are on the automation train heading for efficiency nirvana.

The next step is to use the mobile timecard app. (Don’t worry, it comes with it.)

You are now capturing clock-ins and employee hours for each shift. WorkforceHub adds each punch time to the appropriate employee’s timecard. It never mistakes a 3 for a 5. It never makes mathematical errors. And it has stunning penmanship.

These timecards are now living securely in the cloud. Centralized digital storage lets your managers do all sorts of things.

First off, workforce managers can see every timecard in one place. They can compare by department or team, or filter by part-time vs full-time. Managers can view employees with overtime hours. Click. Click. Click.

The WorkforceHub timecard app puts HR in your pocket. Not only can your managers now approve timecards in minutes, they can do it anywhere they want. Around the clock.

As you grow, you won’t need to hire as many supervisors or payroll administrators. With WorkforceHub, one manager can approve timecards for dozens of employees.

Centralization makes life better for your employees, as well. They will never have to remember to write down a punch time. They can look at their timecard any time of day with the mobile timecard app. They won’t even have to add up hours. Your employees will love you. Especially those who are arithmetic-challenged.

Solution to do now: simplify approvals with the WorkforceHub timecard app.

3. Enforce Schedules

There are two big reasons to enforce schedules; accuracy and reduction of error.

Managers shouldn’t have to police shifts. Clearly, it’s a waste of resources for high-paid employees. Even worse is the time it takes to watch over mistakes made when time is recorded.

But if no one makes sure that employees are clocking in and out at the right times —your labor budget balloons.

Often, it’s not the employee’s fault. Employees work past 40 hours and move into time-and-a-half. No one tells them to clock out, so they keep working. Can you blame them?

Busy employees goof up with paper timecards. Suppose your best phone rep forgets to write down her shift start time because there are calls in the queue. This happens day after day. At the end of the pay period, she has to recall all those punch times. As a result, she makes unintentional timecard errors.

A busy manager also makes mistakes. Here is a common scenario: The payroll processor needed employee hours yesterday. The manager has 30 timecards on her desk. Some are sloppy, incomplete, or have math errors. The manager has ten minutes to approve them or checks will be late. It’s not exactly a recipe for accuracy.

Indeed, these common situations are expensive. You either lose money in overtime, hours padding, or timecard math errors. WorkforceHub is your solution.

The Leading Solution

WorkforceHub integrates with several ‘intelligent’ employee time clocks. ‘Intelligent’ means that they are aware of the employee’s punch status and only present logical options. In addition, you can create custom prompts to collect information at punch-in. For example, job codes or health status. Plus, they can enforce schedules with clock lockout.

Pair WorkforceHub with a hardware clock such as the Vision facial recognition clock or Touch fingerprint clock. Then set schedule rules in the software. You can set them for each employee, team, location, or position.

An intelligent clock is your iron-fisted schedule enforcer that never sleeps. They send your managers alerts when employees approach overtime. Then the manager can make a decision before you start paying time-and-a-half.

Moreover, use schedule enforcement to prevent employees from punching in outside of authorized shifts. This protects you from time theft, meals/breaks violations, and punch errors.

Accuracy allows for better forecasting. Make strategic resource allocation decisions based on solid numbers.

When your managers don’t have to correct timecard errors or police shifts, they have more hours to get things done. Those hours can be used to grow your business. Productivity just went from zero to sixty in 3.5 seconds.

Solution to do now: add an intelligent clock with schedule enforcement.

Get It Done Now

Time is money, as we’ve already established. Every minute you wait to install WorkforceHub is money down the drain.

To speed up payroll, expedite timecard approvals with WorkforceHub.

Updated October 18, 2022. Originally published May 16, 2019.

Simplify HR management today.

Simplify HR management today.

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