Timesheet software for small business: why it matters

ondering about timesheet software for your small business needs? Look no further.

Timesheet tracking doesn’t have to be an ongoing headache for your business. Instead, there are new, modern tools that can help keep you organized—as well as keep your team happy. So toss out the paper schedules, ditch the dated Excel spreadsheets, and prepare yourself for the wonderful world of easy-to-use, cloud-based digital timesheets and timesheet software.

Read on to see how timesheets have evolved over the years. More importantly, see how they’ve transformed the way employers track time and performance. And of course, we share the best way to make your timesheet software for small business organized and easy. 

What are employee timesheets?

Employee timesheets are tools that businesses use to monitor the duration of time that a worker spends at their job or doing a specific task. They’re also referred to as “time cards,” and act as a log of employee clock-ins and clock-outs, especially for employees who are paid on an hourly basis.

Employee timesheets keep track of your workers’ hours and time records, supporting the calculation of payroll based on their working hours.

Why every business needs timesheets for their employees

If you’re running a small or medium sized business and have hourly employees, you’ve likely used timesheets. Or, you at least know you need to.

Timesheets act like a time tracking record—and an accurate one at that. When your business uses a modern version of a timesheet, like a digital one that’s automated, you can see how many hours are being worked by each employee.

Notice how we used present tense? With digital timesheets, you can track hours in real time, not just at the end of a shift.

Smart tools to run your business smarter

Tracking in real time can help with resource allocation and scheduling for future shifts. It shows you who’s worked when and who did what, which can help reduce forms of labor leakage, like overstaffing. Plus, if your business needs it, timesheets can support with billing and invoicing by letting your team accurately track how long a project has taken and who was resourced on it.

Digital timesheets are also great if your business wants to streamline the payroll process. Your hourly teams can use their timesheets to track how many hours they’ve worked, and you can use that information to calculate how much they should be paid at the end of each pay period. Certain types of timesheet software do most of that for you, like Homebase.

Depending on the type of timesheet software you’re using, it can even help with HR and labor laws. You can track overtime and stay up-to-date with employment standards, like PTO and minimum wage rules.

But back to the fun stuff, like performance. Timesheets don’t just help with time tracking. They can also track how well your employees are doing on the job. For instance, digital timesheets can give you reports like which of your team members arrived on time—or showed up late—for their shifts most frequently in a given pay period. They’re also valuable in seeing how your labor costs are measuring up against your sales.

Out with the old (tools)

Although timesheets have their perks, they can also come with their own set of flaws. Especially if you’re using the old-timey version of them: paper.

Paper timesheets could be what you picture when you hear the word timesheet. They’re physical documents that team members use to manually record their clock in-and-out times, plus any breaks or notes from their shift. The best paper timesheets typically include things such as employee information, like name and ID, dates, times worked, breaks taken, a tally of total time worked, shift notes and vacation or sick leave, and approvals from managers.

As you can tell, all of that information can get pretty messy. That’s where something like timesheet software for small business can come in handy. It keeps your business on track, and your employees, too.

Types of timesheets and timesheet software for small business

Manual timesheets

Manual timesheets can be either physical timesheets, like paper ones, or digital documents that are used to record and keep track of hours worked by your team. True to their name, they’re filled out manually, not tracked automatically. Employees use them to record their time worked and the type of shift they’ve completed—like their customer service, hosting, or bartending shift. They also include start and end times, plus breaks, overtime and shift notes.

In case you haven’t guessed it, completing timesheets manually can create a lot of room for error, and can take a lot of time. In fact, many small business owners spend as much as five hours every pay period on accounting tasks like payroll and timesheets.

Short on time? Don’t worry—you’ve got options. 

Excel and Google timesheet templates

Excel timesheet templates can be helpful for business owners, their staff, and other types of workers, like freelancers. They’re somewhat affordable, accessible, and compatible with all recent versions of Microsoft Excel. However, you still have to do manual entry, which leaves a lot of room for error.

Google timesheet templates are designed for Google Sheets, which is an alternative to Excel. It’s free and easy to use, and saves all of your work as you go.

Although there are perks to timesheet templates like the two mentioned above, they’re not really timesheet software for small business solutions. That means they require a do-it-yourself approach and are less comprehensive than automatic tracking solutions. Instead, look for something that can automatically calculate hours and breaks, add tips, connect to time clocks, and integrate with your payroll. 

Digital timesheet software for small business

Digital timesheets are the answer to the time suck of manual timesheets. Ultimately, they’re electronic versions of timesheets.

Digital timesheet software makes for a more streamlined and automated approach to time tracking. It can be accessed using any number of devices like computers, tablets, and smartphones—even personal ones, like the phones of your employees’.

Bonus: digital timesheets mean a lot less room for error. They automatically calculate total hours worked, overtime, and things like special pay rates. That means managers—a.k.a. you—don’t have to sit around with a calculator to figure out who gets paid what and when.

On top of that, certain digital timesheets are made to integrate with payroll software or systems. That means means processing pay gets a whole lot simpler, not to mention more accurate.  

Daily or weekly timesheets

Daily or weekly timesheets document the amount of time your workers spend on tasks or during their shift throughout a single day or in one week of work. They can be paper or electronic, and typically include information like employee name and ID, date, time that’s been clocked in-and-out, plus any specific information about each task, and the total number of hours worked.

Depending on the detail of the daily or weekly timesheet, they can also include a description of what was completed during a shift, plus any breaks taken or overtime worked. Employees fill all of this out, then submit them to their managers for approval. 

The best way to manage timesheets

Clearly communicate expectations

If you want to make sure you and your team is on the same page when it comes to knowing how to track time, it’s not difficult. The best way to do so is clearly and transparently. Start with a document that outlines what you require for timesheets, like deadlines, approvals, and the information that’s needed to be filled out.

You’ll also want to make sure your employees know how to use your digital timesheet software. Or, if it’s a manual process, train your team on the tools to complete their timesheets and give them access. You can do this during onboarding, or host a training session with employees. A buddy system can also be helpful, where an existing employee shows a new worker the ropes, including how to track their time.

Make sure every employee understands the importance of accurate timesheets. Let them know the value of their time, and what it means when it’s not measured properly. 

Use automation to make timesheets a breeze

Automation is exactly what your small business needs to cut back on time and increase productivity. With free timesheet software like Homebase, you can forget about mentally keeping track of shifts, hourly rates, breaks, and PTO. When you use automated timesheet software, it does that all for you. Now, you’ve got a digital solution to ensure your employees are showing up and clocking in, and doing so on time and in the right place.

To make things even easier, when you use an automated timesheet app like Homebase, you’ll get access to free monthly timesheet templates that make payroll easier and less prone to errors. Wondering how? Because it also acts as a time card calculator.

This means all the hours your employees work are automatically calculated, so they’ll get paid on time and accurately. Plus, you don’t have to worry about labor disputes from manual-entry mistakes

Have a dedicated person to manage timesheets

Having a go-to timesheet manager—no, not their official title—to keep everything organized will make everything to do with tracking time that much easier.

This employee might be a supervisor or manager, or maybe it’s you. Regardless, they’re the ones in charge of accuracy, compliance, and resolving any issues that might pop up. Again, that’s more likely if you’re doing things manually and have more room for error. 

Managing your timesheets: the advantages of using timesheet software for small business

When you digitize your timesheets, you’re entering the 21st century. Welcome!

When your business uses digital timesheets, you cut back hugely on admin costs. There’s little-to-no manual data entry or processing, and no double—or triple—checking for errors. Digital timesheet software provides a level of accuracy that’s almost impossible to get through manual entries. The change saves you money and time spent disputing hours worked (or not worked).

Digitizing your timesheet software also gives you a real-time look into employee hours and sales success. This lets you make game-time decisions, like when to close early, cut shifts, or add more people on if it’s a busier-than-usual day. Think of it like a personal assistant that happens to give excellent (and accurate) advice on how to run your business smarter and more cost-efficiently.

Because digital timesheets let you access them and make updates on-the-go, employees are able to see changes made anywhere and anytime. This provides them with a level of transparency and gives them the information they need to know, like when and where they’re working, and what to expect once they’re on shift. 

Plus, digital timesheets enable employees to verify their hours worked, fix any errors, and track their pay. All in all, it’s a huge win for workers.

Homebase: the timesheet software for small business that you need

Let’s cut the sheet. Sure, timesheets used to be boring, inaccurate at times, and take up way too many extra hours in your day. But times have changed. Today, you’ve got Homebase. 

Homebase has designed timesheets to work with your business. Agile, on-the-go, automated, and easy-to-use are the buzzwords around here. Oh, and did we mention free? Yeah, that too.

Homebase gets that timesheets are needed to track your workers’ time. We know that they need to be reliable, accurate, and simple enough for anyone to use without an MS Office subscription or training in Excel.

Because time tracking is a tricky business, Homebase has designed timesheet tracking software that your small business and anyone on your team can use. With minimal training, you’ll be able to work with less errors and less time spent on manual updates.

With free timesheet software like Homebase, you don’t need to worry about keeping track of your employees’ hourly rates or manually adding up the hours your team has worked. Our tool makes sure your team members can clock in and out of their shifts accurately and securely. This lets you better improve your business’s time management practices and stay on top of employee timesheets and their performance.

Going beyond the basics of time tracking

Along with basic time tracking, using timesheet software with Homebase opens up a range of handy reporting and analytics options. These tools are simple and direct, so that even the non-analytical brains of your operation—or the ones who are too swamped to take on anything else—can understand and utilize them.

For instance, say you have an ice cream shop with three locations: one on Main Street, one on the college campus, and a mobile truck that plays the catchiest ice-cream songs on the block. It’s critical to track all of these various shifts and hours worked across your different locations, but you can’t be everywhere at once. Especially on that moving truck.

But with Homebase, you don’t have to be. Monitor whether your employees are working the hours they should, taking the breaks they need to, and clocking out on time from anywhere. Homebase’s free digital timesheet software also lets you check labor costs and projected overtime by location, department, or employee. Now, you can make sure you’re profiting off of every scoop and sprinkle. 

Timesheet software for small business FAQS 

What is a timesheet?

A timesheet is a tool that businesses use to monitor the time that an employee spends at their job or doing a specific task. They’re also referred to as “time cards”, and act as a log of employee clock-ins and clock-outs. They’re often used for hourly shift workers, and are used to keep track of hours and time records. This helps support the calculation of payroll based on their working hours.

How accurate are timesheets?

You’re in luck—automatic timesheets are very accurate! When everything is automated and your employees get reminders to clock in or out, the data that’s going into the calculation is reliable and easy to track. Certain timesheet apps, like Homebase, even comes with free monthly timesheet templates which act like a time card calculator. This makes payroll much easier and much less prone to errors. 

I have salaried employees—do they need to track time? 

This can depend on the industry. Salaried employees, like restaurant management staff or head chefs, are often required to still have to fill out time cards to keep track of how many hours they’re working. This is also the case for workers who are invoicing clients and customers, like designers.

How do you better manage timesheets?

The best way to manage timesheets is to have software that does it for you automatically. Automated timesheets do the hard stuff for you: they calculate hours, breaks, overtime, and wages, and save you time by streamlining your payroll preparation process. Plus, you’ll get reports on labor costs and leakage, so you can stay on top of your business.  

What software will help me with timesheet management?

Homebase is a great option for timesheet software for small business. From timesheets to schedules and all the way to performance tracking and payroll, it brings everything together so you don’t have to. Not only does Homebase help with timesheet management, but you can prepare your team’s schedule, easily adjust with their time-off requests, and even manage payroll. Make things easy on yourself with an all-in-one system for you and your team.

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