It’s one thing to have the right tool for the job; however, if nobody is using it, how legitimately good is it? Time tracking for billing is a no-brainer if you want to bill your clients accurately and confidently. It is not a complicated task, but to those who are most vital to this process, they may think otherwise. Here’s why employees may be avoiding their timesheet, and what you can do to help get them back into the habit.

No motivation: “What’s in it for me?”

I was a software developer at a company that billed a minimum of 80% of its hours to customers. I often wondered, “what’s in it for me?” My hours went in, and after a couple of weeks, I got paid. Sure, I understood the process, and I appreciated getting paid; however, I never felt the impact of my time at work.

The answer to the question of “what’s in it for me?” may come down to a bit more of a transparency play for managers and company leadership. In my mind, I knew how much my hour was worth on my paycheque. But I didn’t know how much my hour was worth to the client paying for my time. More importantly, I didn’t know how much my hour was worth to the company I worked for.

Looking back, I would’ve been motivated to submit my timesheets regularly had I been reminded of how much of an impact my hours were making. All I saw was my hours going in and someone else benefiting from my hard work.

Anxiety: “Will I be judged for the time I put in? Or I don’t put in?”

Timesheet anxiety is a thing. Realizing that they’re going over budget with every hour they submit, employees can get debilitating anxiety from that. That anxiety could even lead them to not being completely honest with the hours that they submit. 

An employee may feel pressured to put more time in than is needed. Especially if the mandate of the company is to work a certain amount of billable hours. 

Remember my last job where my company wanted me to put in at least 80% billable hours? There were times when I felt as though I wasn’t putting in enough billable hours. While I couldn’t put in OT because I had a young family, I felt anxious that my job could be at risk if I didn’t work enough billable hours.

As a manager, we must ensure employee safety when it comes to the hours that they submit. While this doesn’t mean that we must underscore the importance of budgets and billable time. We should communicate that their jobs are not on the line and that their timesheet efforts are not being judged.

No priority: “I don’t have time to put in my time.”

This line is likely the most common reason we hear of why teams don’t submit their time. When we’re in flow at work, it’s a flow-busting distraction to log in to a timesheet every time we switch tasks. 

According to a study conducted by the University of California, it can take 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back into the flow of work after a distraction. It may take a moment to enter time into a timesheet. It takes longer to get back into the flow of work. And that’s if there are no other distractions in between.

What I did at my old job was to wait until the end of the week to submit my time. While not always efficient or accurate, it was the only way for me to find the time to do it. However, there were weeks when I was more motivated to get a headstart on my weekend, and I would forget to submit my timesheet.

Your company may have different needs for how time is submitted, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But for the sake of reducing workflow distraction, encouraging time submission before breaks are one way of protecting teammates’ work time. Another approach would be to create repeatable calendar events at key times during the day to help as a reminder. 

Another thing to consider is to ensure that your timesheet solution has a mobile app. That way, timekeeping can be done anywhere that an internet connection exists. Having a mobile timesheet removes a barrier and increases participation.

Complicated or cumbersome: “Every time I try, it’s too hard.”

Having the right timesheet solution that fits your needs and is easy for anyone to use is a delicate balance. You require an A-to-Z list of features and settings within your timesheet. However, the timesheet aspect must be simple, intuitive and quick. Oh, it must be reliable. Nobody has time for a moody timesheet.

First impressions, coupled with education, is a big part of employee adoption of the “dreaded” timesheet. Communicating the importance of why timesheets are required, and the impact it has on the health of the company is significant. Take the appropriate time to train your team to use the timesheet.

If your team is new to the timesheet world, ask the timesheet provider to give live training for the whole team or key users. Most reputable timesheet companies would be very happy to do this.

Having an expert on the other line will ease the burden on you to answer any technical questions. And since they are timesheet experts, they’ll understand your concerns, they’ve heard them all. Allow them to share their onboarding expertise!

Timesheets are an easy concept. However, they are challenging to implement in reality. There can be a lot of emotion behind submitting and committing work time into a database. These are valuable hours of people’s time. Time of their life that they are giving to your company. A time that they will never see again. There’s life-value behind that time that is far more valuable than the cash flow that comes from it.

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About the Author

For 30 years, Dovico has been providing time tracking and timesheet software for clients worldwide. Manage your projects and teams, capture time and generate reports.

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