Written by: Troy Robinson
What’s the secret to eliminating those stressful, complicated payroll corrections? An automated timekeeping system that allows your managers to review and approve employee timesheets!
In comparison to paper timesheets, automated timekeeping systems help to improve timekeeping accuracy and provide data consistency. Electronic timesheets are also reviewed and approved faster, which results in faster payroll processing times. Once you’re using an automated timekeeping system, you can say goodbye to the days of chasing down pesky paper timesheets, file cabinets full of old time cards, hand cramps from signing hundreds of timesheets, and re-keying mistakes or hunting down information from missing punches. Automated timekeeping systems are a win for your employees and managers, too.
It is so much more convenient for your employees to clock in and clock out electronically, than it is to fill out a paper timesheet. Another major benefit is that employees can submit timesheets via several mediums including from a computer (online entry), from the time clock itself, or even from a mobile device. This is convenient for your employees because they can pick the medium that works best for them. Employees in the field or who are traveling may prefer submitting timesheets via an app on their cell phone, versus employees in your corporate office who may prefer logging in to an online portal.
Your managers already have a lot of responsibility and constraints on their time, so it is important to make it as easy as possible for them to quickly and accurately review and approve timesheets for the employees they oversee. Managers benefit from similar flexibility in the approval process when using automated timekeeping systems. Managers can approve their employees’ timesheets from an internet browser on a desktop or laptop computer, or from a mobile device. This flexibility is a huge plus and allows for multi-tasking when the manager is on the go! Plus, once the employee has submitted a timesheet, it is immediately available for the manager to approve. That saves so much time, compared to a manager having to physically collect a timesheet from each employee.
Continuity is easily achievable with automated systems, too. If a manager knows he or she is not going to be able to review timesheets in a specific period, they can delegate their approvals to another manager. This is not only helpful for holidays or when a manager takes a vacation, but also in cases when a manager is working on special projects and just doesn’t have the bandwidth to comply with time keeping deadlines. Delegating approvals ensures there won’t be delays in your payroll processing.
With all of the other responsibilities your managers have, it can seem like an inconvenience to ask them to spend time every payroll period to review an employee’s time sheet trying to figure out whether their employee worked 10 hours on Friday, or did they leave 3 hours early to get in a round of golf when the boss was in an offsite meeting. However, this is an important task that needs to be done, so see what you can do to make this process easier. Many organizations have turned to “Attestation” checkboxes, saying that the employee is entering their time accurately, thus trusting employees are not intentionally charging too much overtime, or making major errors in time entry. This is one idea that can help save time and effort.
Most organizations require manager approval of non-exempt employee time sheets. Some require approval of exempt employee time sheets, specifically when there is costing elements or “labor allocation” that needs to be applied based on hours worked. Typically, payroll will run reports to review time sheet status, and using these reports, chase down managers whose approval is still required for payroll to complete processing of the time sheets. This extra running around can cause a multitude of issues including delays in processing, late fees when submitting files to the payroll vendor for payment; or to avoid fees, processing those unapproved time sheets with the potential for overpayment and inaccurate costing allocation.
With automated systems, email notices are commonly used to remind managers to review and complete their approval prior to payroll processing deadlines. After a while, some managers may become so accustomed to the routine reminders that they begin to ignore the email notices, resulting in missed or delayed time entry review and approvals.
To combat this issue, upper management needs to make time sheet approval a priority. If manager bonuses, or performance evaluations include timely approval of timesheets as a metric, managers will find the time to review and approve time sheets. In addition to automated email reminders, additional escalation email reminders as deadlines approach can also be generated. Some organizations are even alerting second level managers as part of this process. In some cases, each instance of missing or late approvals can be captured in the database to be used for statistical reporting at the end of the period, to provide data for performance evaluations.
Payroll, working with upper management, can set the expectations for timely review and approval of employee timesheets. Will mistakes still be made and corrections required? Of course. Hopefully the number of those occurrences decline over time, with organization cultural change making time review and approval a priority.
About Troy Robinson, Senior Consultant
Troy Robinson is an HCM Integration Engineer with more than 20 years of experience as a software consultant. In his role at HRchitect, he leverages his unique experience as both a consultant and end user of HCM systems to lead clients through successful workforce management systems implementations.