All that you need to know about timesheets

An ultimate set of questions and answers to help you understand the essentials from a to z of timesheets. You will learn what a timesheet is, how to use it, how to manage it, what are the timesheet apps, why they are good and how to get most of them.

What is a timesheet? What does a timesheet mean?

A timesheet or time sheet is a way to record time spent on a job. Tracking time on projects provides accountability for your workers.

The meaning of timesheets refers to paper sheets arranged in a tabular format used to record employee time in and time out at a job. Today timesheets are digital documents.


What to do with a timesheet?

The uses of timesheets are numerous. Business use timesheets to facilitate correct payroll accounting, improve project management, and know exactly what your employees are working. Additionally, the timesheets provide details that can help on

  • Billing clients
  • Calculating labor costs
  • Determine employee workload
  • Stay compliant with federal and state rules for overtime for hourly workers
  • Tracking productivity,
  • Automating invoicing
  • Ensuring accuracy in reporting
  • Keep track of hours worked for management purposes
  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Getting insights on profit.


How do timesheets work?

Practically there are 6 essential steps to make timesheets work in your company:

  • Step 1: Setup the timesheet system or timesheet template that you want to use in your company.
  • Step 2: Provide access to the employees to the timesheet system or timesheet templates.
  • Step 3: Provide guidelines to the timesheet submission process: timesheet periods, timesheet approval flows, overtime or pay rules, validation rules, and notifications.
  • Step 4: Employee submit worked hours in the timesheet and then they submit them for approval at the end of the timesheet period.
  • Step 5: Managers or supervisors check the timesheet and approve or rejects it. If rejected, the employee shall submit it again, following the recommendations from the manager.
  • Step 6: Use the timesheet for payroll, billing a client, track employee productivity, or monitoring projects.


How to fill a timesheet?

Typically in a timesheet, you include the following details:

  • The employee name
  • The period that the timesheet covers
  • The name of the person to approve the timesheet
  • Days of the week
  • Start time
  • Finish time
  • Amount of break time, e.g. lunch.
  • Total time worked per day
  • Optional: Time off
  • Optional: Holidays
  • Optional: Amount of travel time, if travel is included in pay
  • Optional: Any overtime, double-time, etc.
  • Optional: Project tasks


How to read a timesheet?

Timesheets are offering data on the time spent at work. In a timesheet, you can identify the time worked daily, when the employee has started or ended the shift, how long the breaks were if the employee is working during the work hours or not, and provide details about the overtime.

Additionally, modern time applications, use geofencing to ensure that the hours are logged at the workplace.

As a manager, you should pay a close look at the discrepancies between the regular hours and overtime, identify absenteeism patterns, and if your company is focused on delivering projects on time, that the project allocated hours are correctly budgeted and forecasted.

How to make/create/prepare/calculate a timesheet in Excel?

We are offering a step-by-step tutorial by covering the details you need to make to prepare and use an Excel timesheet. We’ve put together not only the technical Excel part but also the logic behind a timesheet. This comprehensive guide teaches you to track employee work hours, breaks, and vacations, to keep everything in order, and to calculate payrolls. Check the “How to create an Excel timesheet?” guide now.

When to submit the timesheet?

Depending on the time tracking policies in your company, timesheets can be submitted at different intervals such as weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.

Once you have introduced the worked hours in your timesheet and made sure that you have the daily hours recorded correctly, you can submit the timesheet for approval.

If you use timesheet software, you can setup a reminder for submitting the timesheet or setup automatic timesheet submission.


When to email the timesheet?

As we mentioned in the answer above, submitting the timesheet depends on the payroll period or billing cycle. It could be that after one week you encode your worked hours in your word timesheet template if you don’t use a time-tracking app, and then send it to your manager for your approval.

Alternatively, if you work as a freelancer on a project or task basis, after your finishing the work, or reaching a certain milestone, or a defined number of hours worked, you can submit an invoice to your client with the hours worked to accomplish the tasks.


What is timesheet management?

By timesheet management, we understand the process of monitoring and analyzing employee timesheets. This can include: accepting or rejecting employee timesheets, forecasting time required for delivering a project, calculating payroll or invoicing the client based on the recorded work hours for a certain project.

Trough timesheet management, supervisors can take decisions regarding project time requirements, employee productivity and gain insights regarding financial implications.
Although timesheet management sounds good, using the traditional ways is time-consuming, using Excel timesheets, you face the risk of human error or time theft, and manual data processing is exhaustive and repetitive.


What is a timesheet management system?

An employee timesheet system is an automated time worked tracker for employees that facilitates several of the administrative processes of the company. The system helps employees to submit their worked hours, it calculates the time duration automatically, it sends the timesheet requests to Managers as soon as the employees submit the employee timesheet form for approval. An employee timesheet system helps with keeping track of the hours worked, overtime, and records overtime, time off or holidays. Such software facilitates not only the work of employees but managers, HR, and payroll also.

What is the role of timesheets in payroll?

Employee timesheets are tracking worked hours, leaves, overtime or attendance. This information is essential for processing payroll. Timesheet tools reduce the manual data processing, reduce errors, and facilitates the approval of the timesheets between employees and managers so that once they are approved they are accurate records of the time worked so that the payroll processing activities by accountants and financial managers go smoothly. A timesheet tracker can improve payroll, profitability, and productivity.


What is timesheet reporting?

Timesheet reporting provides you a birds-eye on how time is being consumed in your company. How many hours are logged by your employees?

Timesheet reporting provides details regarding the time recorded by your employees per payroll period, or billing cycle.

Usually, timesheet records are grouped by:

  • Daily clock-in, clock-out records,
  • Weekly working time totals with a breakdown per each working day,
  • Monthly views with total worked hours per each day of the month.

Modern time tracking apps can highlight within the timesheet reports overtime, holidays or time off. Additionally, such apps can facilitate timesheet management reports, by employee, team, client or project with a few simple clicks. In addition to these, here are some extra benefits of timesheet reporting:

  • You can compare the planned with the actual effort recorded in time and make better estimates for the next project.
  • You can measure how much time is spent in non-productive ways: holidays, training, time spent on administrative tasks.
  • You can also measure the workload of your staff. If the policy is to work 40 hours per week and you see some team members regularly going for 50+ hours, they might be overworked and might need a break.
  • Timesheets logs help you to spot who are productive employees, and the ones that are performing poorly and cost money for the company. Such information is useful for promoting staff members.


What is a timesheet application?

A timesheet application is a time-tracking software designed to run on a mobile device or tablet. Commonly referred to as a timesheet app, it helps your employees with recording the worked hours, leave times and facilitates the submission of the timesheet for approval as per pay period.

A timesheet application also may be known as a web timesheet app, online timesheet app, iPhone timesheet app, Android timesheet or simply as a time tracking smartphone app.

Learn more about the ARAHR timesheet app.

What is an employee timesheet?

Employee timesheets are time records for a job over a defined period, that are used to calculate the employee salary or bill a client for the work done. Employee timesheets have evolved from paper sheets, to punch cards, to excel timesheet templates, to modern timesheet software and apps that can be accessed anywhere, anytime.

What is a timesheet entry?

A timesheet entry is a time log created by the employee within the timesheet template, software or app. This entry can be the start time for a task or recording the lunch break, introducing a sick leave in the system, or clocking out from work.

Discover a simple time-card that you can use to calculate work hours and prepare your timesheet entries.


How to get employees to track time and submit timesheets on time?

Motivating employees to track time is one of the challenges that managers face nowadays. Getting the workforce to track work hours by using a time tracking software and submitting the timesheets in time is a challenge. As you probably guessed, employees find the task of filling in their timesheets to be a burden. So you need to find ways to transform that burden into a pleasant activity. Learn more about the importance of timesheets and 5 tips to make this activity more enjoyable.


What means timesheet due?

Timesheet due dates or timesheet deadlines refer to the policies regarding the submission of timesheets for approval and payroll. Normally for weekly employees, the completed timesheet must be submitted for approval promptly after the week finishes. Normally these details are communicated during the employee onboarding and are detailed within the employee handbook.

Can the employer change the timesheet?

Please consult your HR and legal department.