What is a timesheet?

Is it just another spreadsheet?

First published on Thursday, Jun 04, 2020

Last updated on Wednesday, Nov 24, 2021

Businesses use timesheets to keep track of the hours their employees work. They’re an excellent way to put responsibility in the hands of your employees.

You can create shifts and rotas for your staff to log in and check—and they can do this on their smartphone using our mobile app.

There are many other advantages, too, which we’ll take you through in this guide.

What are electronic timesheets?

A timesheet can also outline the employee's breaks, their travel time, and any other important information—all of which can help you calculate their pay.

Using a work hours log, like a timesheet, gives a person the ability to record the time they spend working.

This might be time for a particular client or a certain project—or it could simply be to record the hours of their full day.

There is free timesheet software available online, but choosing to pay can lead to more advanced options with extra features.

How does desktop timesheet software work?

These days, an employee timesheet is a piece of digital collateral as often as it’s a piece of paper.

While for some people, drawing up a weekly hours log involves a side of A4 and a pen, for others, technology—in the form of a laptop, tablet, or smartphone—is the tool of choice.

You can buy timesheet software online for your computer—or a timesheet app for your smartphone.

A timesheet portal is a webpage that your employees can log in to. Some companies will choose to let staff upload their own timesheet into the portal.

The employee will then click a button to send the sheet off for approval from the employer.

Or, if a company has electronic timesheet software, the portal will lead the employee through to a webpage version of the timesheet.

In this instance, the software should work in such a way that the employee can input their work hours and other important data.

If the online timesheet software is difficult to use, it's not effective.

The benefits of an online timesheet system

There are many of these, with the main examples below in a handy list:

  • An online system is the process is paperless. Not only is this good for the environment, it means you won’t start losing any crucial information.
  • By having one central system for staff to input their hours, a business can run a more efficient payroll process.
  • Most HR timesheet software will email or text your staff with a timesheet reminder—letting them know that they need to log in to the portal to fill out their sheet.
  • You can decide when the system needs to send a reminder to staff. For example, five days before a deadline. It’s possible to choose to repeat reminders for these, too.
  • Save time by with a more streamlined process—you can also understand where you’re wasting labour time and improve your procedures.
  • Automate your billing for greater accuracy.
  • Save money.

Timesheet management

If you're an employer or agency, you need to decide what type of simple timesheet software you will request from your staff:

  • Daily.
  • Weekly.
  • Bi-weekly.
  • Monthly.

These are the most common amounts of time that a timesheet might cover.

The frequency with which you pay your staff (e.g. weekly, monthly) will help you work out which type of timesheet works best for your accounts team to process.

Important data to include in a timesheet

  • The name of the employee or worker.
  • The dates that the timesheet covers.
  • The name of the person to approve the timesheet (this is optional but it could help with processing).
  • Days of the week.
  • Start time.
  • Finish time.
  • Amount of break time, e.g. lunch.
  • Amount of travel time (if this is in their pay).
  • Any overtime, double time.

Training staff about timesheets

You might be thinking, "What do I need to train staff about timesheets for?"—just a simple spreadsheet, right?

Well, yes, timesheets are rather simplistic. But, you should take the chance at the start of someone's employment to explain the importance of being accurate with their timesheet information.

And, critically, make it clear to all staff that falsifying their timesheets, such as to claim more money, would lead to disciplinary action.

Looking for a timesheet template?

You can find many staff timesheet software examples online with a quick search. But if you want a secure, automated system that takes the pressure off your accounts team, you might want to look into it.


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