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How to Manage Employees' Timesheets in 2020

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Is there anything as iconic in the world of work as the punch-card employee timesheet administration?

Time clock on, time clock off. Rinse, repeat.

But nothing can make you feel more like a machine You're only useful when you're on duty, and your pay can change if you punch the time card too late or too early. Years later from these early days, some companies use a similar system in the form of biometric data or ID scanners, while other companies have their employees fill out a new sheet of paper every week they are at work.

But in this impersonal time tracking system for employees, is there any way that a different kind of machine could actually take the burden of tracking work off of them and bring a little more humanity to everything?

Purpose of the time tracking system?

Time sheets allow an employer to calculate the number of hours each employee has worked for a particular task in a given period of time, as well as the time spent checking in and out of the workplace. Timesheet templates help the employer standardize and streamline the payroll process and schedule while reducing the likelihood of payroll errors.

The purpose of employee time sheets is to provide a record of employee working hours, speed up the payroll process, enforce the work/shift schedule, improve employee compliance with employee compensation regulations, and prevent wage theft disputes.

10 Reasons to move away from traditional employee time sheet templates

Old paper time sheet templates bring too much chaos to the modern office. With their tendency to make mistakes, slow processing time and lack of controls, even digital forms are not something you should trust implicitly.

Traditional processing of employee time sheet templates means that finance and HR teams spend a lot of time processing and reviewing either paper or digital forms in each pay period. They must verify signatures and make sure that everything has been filled out correctly.

The following are the top ten reasons why traditional employee time sheet forms and templates are poorly suited for time tracking.

Traditional employee time sheet templates:
  • Do not provide an accurate record of employees' working hours
  • Have no possibility to track late arrival or early departure of employees
  • Slow down the approval process of timesheets
  • Impact on productivity due to excessive manual dependency
  • Areas subject to favouritism or bias on the part of the timekeeper
  • Cause of the inaccuracy and salary disputes
  • Have a high risk of non-compliance with policies and regulations
  • Can neither enforce nor ensure compliance with the work plan
  • May have difficulty in accommodating flexible schedules
  • Exposing companies to a range of time-slot/wage theft problems

Paper-based timesheet templates for employees create too much stress and confusion, especially when the result affects the pay an employee receives. So companies need something that is completely trustworthy, simple, well documented, and has the power to eliminate the manual problems in the approval process.

Top 5 alternatives to traditional timesheet templates

The main reason why nobody likes Excel-based time tracking management is not the time tracking template itself, but the cumbersome, administration-intensive and time-consuming process that surrounds it. From filling out employee timesheet templates to submitting and processing them to processing salaries, the entire process is a nightmare. Accounting systems and manual processing can neither make it easy nor simplify the process for everyone involved.

Fortunately, there are a number of alternatives to the traditional time sheet templates. The trick is to find one that suits your organization and process.

The following are some traditional time sheet templates that companies can use:

Cloud-based HR applications

Cloud-based HR applications offer organizations the freedom to choose the features they want, personalize the application interface, and the ability to build a workflow from scratch. Because they are ready to use right out of the box, all companies need to do is purchase subscriptions, sign up their employees for the app and start using it in no time.

An example of this is the IceHrm, an all-in-one HR cloud with a range of core and supporting HR features. The Employee Time Sheet Management module gives companies the flexibility to adapt the virtual workflow model to their actual process, so employees do not have to stick to standard templates.


  • May provide reduced functionality or features
  • May have a much greater dependence on the seller

Internal HR systems

HR software installed on site enables employees and other resources to submit time sheets offline. Using specific rules and guidelines, employees can validate their employees' time and time off information. On-site HR tools can retrieve the necessary approvals from supervisors and managers. Best of all, login and password security is usually sufficient as proof of approval authentication.


  • Most on-site software has a very rigid software architecture
  • As they are not integration-friendly, there will be more room for data redundancy
  • Increased burden and dependence on the IT department

Access card or biometric access

While an access card swipe system can help companies extract information such as employee login and logout times, work hours, absences and more. However, these time tracking tools cannot detect how much time employees actually spend on work and what task they are working on.

Although biometric access tools are more secure than the access card system, they have a number of disadvantages, such as the inability to record actual working hours, tasks performed, and more.


  • Access card systems are subject to policy violations like buddy punching
  • Lack of functions for tracking the actual number of hours worked

Payroll software

Although it is possible to use a payroll solution for time recording, not every payroll software has time clock functions. A few payroll systems that are equipped with an employee-side portal allow employees to submit their timesheets for payroll.


  • Most payroll systems can neither copy the hours worked nor the complete timesheets.
  • There are restrictions on the creation and processing of timesheets
    Advanced time recording functions like overtime, remote work tracking can be a problem

Excel-based templates for employee timesheets

Administrative staff can easily set up Excel-based templates for employee time sheets. The main advantage over paper-based timesheets is the ability to use macros to summarize everything in one payroll data sheet. Once set up, it is easy to distribute these templates.


  • Excel templates can be difficult to use.
  • Timesheet templates can often get "stuck" in an email or spam filter.
  • The time/date stamp of the email is not sufficient for reporting.

Managing employee timesheets: Why automation is so important in the enterprise

If you want to give your employees the flexibility to fill out their own timesheets, but don't want to make it a burden on them and cause chaos in the office every few weeks, then this is the time tracking solution you need. Automating the process of managing employee timesheets can help companies speed up something that is important to every employee: the time it takes to process their salary accurately.

When employee time sheets are automated, managers can instantly review and approve/reject them, send the process time sheet to the HR team and finance team for further review and payroll, and at the same time give employees visibility into their time sheet approval process. Modern employee timesheet applications do not require employees to enter their name, department, employee ID number, and other details each time. Instead, these intelligent timesheet management systems automatically capture this information when the user is logged into the system.

Most employee time sheet management software programs allow employees to save a template of their employee time sheet form so that they don't have to start from scratch each time. If the working times are consistent, submitting the form would be straightforward. It will accurately record the number of hours worked and any additional overtime each time.

Best of all, automated employee timesheets help to route a request for approval. Instead of the employee trying to get the attention of a supervisor, automated time sheet software sends the form directly to a supervisor as soon as the employee submits it. The supervisor can view and approve the form from a mobile device and it is then ready for processing.

The automation and advanced timesheet management system can continue to function during this phase. If only a few journal entries need to be made to update the software, and you don't want someone from the HR team to do the work, it can be automated with a simple integration.

Read More... Basic Usage of IceHrm Timesheets

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