If your organization is working from home for the first time in this current pandemic environment, you may be wondering how to make sure you have accurate time records for your remote workers — especially your non-exempt employees. For example, if they're reporting overtime, how do you know if they worked the hours they're reporting?
This is a real issue for any company that has hourly employees working from home. You want to trust your people, but you also want assurance that their time sheets are accurate and reliable. As you're adjusting to a new way of operating, unresolved questions like this add more strain to your work.
The idea of guaranteeing accurate time sheets can seem impossible when you're dealing with remote workers. But you can gain assurances by taking a purposeful approach. We've seen organizations successfully manage time inaccuracies by implementing multi-pronged solutions.
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Implement Effective Processes
Create a standard process for all your employees to record their work hours, such as an electronic timekeeping system that workers can access from home. Also, develop policies that require employees to record all hours worked and expressly prohibit off-the-clock work.
Of course, your policies and time capture systems won't be effective unless you keep your workers accountable. You can do that by running weekly and monthly reports of employees' time card data. Managers should implement corrective procedures for repeat offenders.
To cut down on unauthorized overtime, require employees to get permission from their supervisors before putting in extra hours. If workers claim unauthorized overtime, you can't withhold overtime pay but you can start a corrective action process.
Communicate Your Policies
By clearly and frequently communicating your company's time and attendance policies, you're expecting your employees to meet a standard. The message is clear: accurate reporting is a priority, and supervisors will be proactive about it.
Walk new employees through your timekeeping processes. Show them how to track their time, how to request time off, and what to do if they need to work overtime. Explain how breaks and lunches work when working remotely.
When you communicate your policies, also be clear about the disciplinary procedures if there's a violation.
Build a Culture of Ownership and Trust
When employees take pride in their work and have a sense of ownership in the organization, they're more likely to act in ways that benefit the company. You can build that sense of ownership by valuing their work, communicating the impact their work has, and extending trust and accountability.
When employees feel that they are being treated fairly, they are much less likely to misrepresent their work time.
Reduce Late Timesheets
When your entire workforce is working from home, collecting timesheets can take a little more work. It isn't the simple matter of popping by someone's desk and reminding them to submit their time.
Instead, you may find yourself sending emails, then texting, then calling their cell phones. Since they aren't in the office, getting their attention can require more effort. But there are ways to alleviate that.
Consider using automation. If forgetfulness is the culprit for missing timesheets, it can be very effective to send an automated email reminder the morning that timesheets are due.
Use the Right Time Collection Method
Many companies choose to capture time information through spreadsheets, using macros. It's a simple method, but spreadsheets are wrought with problems. For example:
- Macros are easily broken
- Complex macros are difficult to maintain
- There's no way to check accuracy
- Security and data protection are inadequate
Other organizations use a time-and-attendance application that performs basic timekeeping functions, but still rely on spreadsheets or manual methods to address company-specific business rules or pay policies (e.g., incentive pay, piece rate, prevailing wage, union pay/benefits, etc.).
If you're spending time with error-prone spreadsheets or paper-based methods, IDI's integration software helps you improve efficiencies and accuracy with automated calculations. You're guaranteed to always be in compliance with regulations and complex calculations are handled with the click of a button.
Timesheets You Can Trust
There's no way to guarantee that you'll eliminate inaccurate timesheets altogether. But these tips can help ensure that your remote employees are reporting their time accurately while they're working from home.
We also advise organizations to follow these best practices on-site as well. So when you return to the office environment, you'll have safeguards in place to keep reporting truthful.