How to get people to fill in their timesheets

Deliver projects on-time
Stay within budget
Use intuitive systems
Improve time management
written by
Phil Smith
Jul 8, 2019
minutes read

Timesheets are crucial to project profitability, so why is it such a struggle to get them filled in?

Let us tell you, and more importantly, explain what you can do to fix it.

Time, as they say, is money - therefore it’s vital that neither are wasted if a project is going to be delivered within budget.

In the case of cold hard cash, people tend to be very aware of what’s going out and what’s coming in. It’s easy to keep track of expenditure on tools and materials, not least because suppliers are more than happy to furnish you with invoices.

Yet getting employees to accurately log their hours can often be a bit of a nightmare. If you're going to keep a project on time and within budget, those timesheets need to be in tip-top shape - not least so you can effectively adapt to challenges the moment they crop up.

So why is it such a struggle to get your team to fill in their timesheets accurately and, well, on time? And more importantly, what can you do about it? Let’s take a look.

1. Explain why they’re important

There’s often a misconception that timesheets are a form of surveillance - that it’s a way for the boss to keep tabs on how you’re spending every second of your day.

This is doubly damaging as not only does it cause employees to defiantly neglect their timesheets, but it can also be incredibly demotivating.

There’s plenty of studies that demonstrate motivation actually dips if people feel they’re being watched and controlled. That’s not good for anyone.

This misconception is easily remedied by a quick explanation that they're not designed to squeeze out every last drop of productivity, but about ensuring projects are brought in on time and within budget. It can't hurt to remind people of this during project briefings from time to time either!

Snazzy offices and staff parties don’t fund themselves (and neither do pay rises and bonuses), but if everyone’s orientated towards hitting their targets, they’ll all benefit in the long run when profit margins are kept in-tact.

2. Make it easy to do

Nobody wants to spend ages fiddling with spreadsheets or running around the building submitting reams of paperwork. Employees will rather spend their time cracking on with the job in hand, and rightly so!

The trick then, is to make it quick and simple for your team to get those hours logged. Ensuring you’ve got an intuitive and convenient system in place will make it infinitely more likely that those timesheets will be accurate and up to date.

Speedy software, email plug-ins, and even smartphone apps - there's plenty of intuitive systems available to make things easy for everyone involved.

If your team doesn't have to stress about filling in their timesheets, you won't have to stress about chasing them.

3. Share the benefits

The other big thing that prevents employees from keeping track of their hours is that they just don’t see how it benefits them. “It might make the bigwigs happy, but what’s in it for me?” If all they think it’s doing is taking valuable time away from their own priorities, why should they bother at all?

Keeping track of all those man hours is useful for management, but it can also be incredibly useful for the chaps logging them too. By ensuring your employees have access to those records, they can better manage their own time and ensure that they’re on target as well.

If your employees can share in the benefits of accurate timesheets, they're much more likely to keep on top of them. It's important data after all - why else would you want it collected? So don't hoard it, share it around!

At the end of the day, the most crucial aspect is having a good team who are all pulling for one another. It's an informed, united team with clear goals that brings home the bacon. If everyone's up to speed with how timesheets facilitate that, and can easily fill them in while reaping the benefits of doing so, you'll undoubtedly be onto a winner.

Find out how CMap makes timesheets a doddle for your team to complete here.

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