Timesheet templates: what every business needs to know

Timesheet templates are a necessary part of running a business, especially when you employ shift workers or contractors. But even though they’re important, they can be pretty tedious. 

Whether you’re tackling timesheets via the pen-and-paper route or going digital with your data, there’s a lot to keep track of. Timesheet templates are useful to track time worked, time off, breaks, shift swaps, and labor laws—just to name a few.

The good news? There’s an easier way to do it all, and do it right.

What’s a timesheet?

A timesheet is a tool used by an employer to track how much time an employee spends on their work. Sometimes referred to as “time cards”, a timesheet is like a record of clock ins and clock outs for hourly employees. It’s used to track employees hours and time entries and calculate payroll for employees based on the time they’ve worked. 

Traditionally, hours are tracked within a table on a sheet of paper. But since it’s 2023, smart businesses use a more modern approach to turn timesheets into digital spreadsheets or documents with real-time functionality. Digital timesheets can save you hours by automating calculations that are necessary for payroll based on billable time. This means less manual data entry and easier payroll prep

The pros and cons of using timesheets in the workplace

Timesheets can be a tedious part of a workplace, but they’re a critical part of running a business—and paying your employees, of course. Here are the pros and cons of dealing with time sheets. 

Pro: Timesheets keep you organized

There’s a lot that goes into running a business, and tracking time for every employee is one of those things. Although it can be time consuming, timesheets are a great tool for keeping you and your team organized. This is especially true when it’s time to plan the next schedule or complete payroll.

Do you have hourly employees? Then you’ll find digital timesheet templates particularly useful. Timesheets and other time tracking tools are often used to break down working days and monitor how much time employees spend on specific tasks and various projects.

Knowing specifics around these pieces can help you plan ahead and pay your team quickly and accurately.

Pro: Timesheets keep you compliant

Timesheets can help keep you compliant by accurately tracking hours. This way, you can be sure that breaks and overtimes are compliant with city, state, and federal labor laws. Depending on the timesheet template or tool you’re using, you can even store your time cards and all edits to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act’s record-keeping rules.

If you’re using Homebase, your timesheets act as a compliance tool. You’ll get a text message when an employee is about to hit overtime, save hundreds of dollars a month by preventing early clock-ins (otherwise known as time theft), forecast your labor costs as you schedule, and track overtime across multiple locations. You can also track time off accruals, set different policies per regulation or different paid time off policies per employee, and manage all of your time off requests in one place. 

Pro: Timesheets keep you in control of labor costs

You might think that the cost of labor is simply about how much an employee makes. The actual definition offers a bit more clarity on what you’re really paying for. 

The cost of labor is the sum of all employee wages paid, plus how much it costs to provide benefits, like health insurance and paid time off, as well as how much needs to be paid in federal and state payroll taxes

Timesheets can help you understand the full price of your labor costs, and how to keep them in line with your budget. If you’re using a timesheet tool like Homebase, you can prevent labor leakage, reduce time theft, prevent overtime, and set labor to sales targets.

How? An automatic time clock works with your timesheets to calculate total hours, paid and unpaid breaks, and overtime. It also tracks salaried employees and calculates non-exempt salaried overtime, so you can get back in control of labor costs. 

Con: Timesheets can get messy

Timesheets are a helpful tool to getting organized. But because there’s so much that goes into them, they can get messy and complicated.

If you’re using a paper-and-pen method or a spreadsheet, your timesheets can become filled with errors. And those errors can add up and cost you time and money.

Without an accurate way to track hours worked, managers might miss essential information like breaks taken, paid time off, sick days, or even late clock ins-and-outs. In fact, 20% of every dollar earned by a U.S. company is lost to time theft. Time theft is the act of employees taking unauthorized company time without using paid time off or paid sick leave, whether intentionally or unintentionally. 

This mess can be easily prevented with the proper tools and software that focus on managing hourly workers—so you don’t have to. 

Con: Timesheets take time

It might seem a little backwards, but it’s true. Though timesheets help you stay organized and compliant, they take a lot of time to collect, complete, and review. Emphasis on “a lot,” especially if you’re using the paper method of tracking time.

Timesheets require everybody to stay up-to-date and on track of their schedule. That means employees need to be actively tracking when they’re clocking in, when they’re taking breaks, when they need time off, and when they leave their shift. It also requires you to make sure that all time is being tracked properly.

After collecting timesheets—which is a job on its own—managers and owners need to ensure that the times recorded are correct. This involves a lot of due diligence and organization, not to mention coordination and communication with your team.

Feeling overwhelmed already? Don’t worry: there’s an easier way. 

Your free timesheet template

A timesheet template is a document with a predefined page layout that allows you to record employee working hours, breaks, and time off a bit more easily. It includes elements like:

  • Employee name
  • Date 
  • Number of hours worked
  • Hourly pay rate
  • Task or shift 
  • Clock in and clock out times
  • Overtime 
  • Paid and unpaid breaks 
  • Paid or unpaid time off 
  • Estimated wages per employee

Timesheet templates give you the basics of what you need to keep work on track and stay compliant with state and federal labor laws. Plus, with a timesheet template, you don’t need to create your own from scratch. Crisis averted.

The best news? Homebase gives you free timesheet templates so you know exactly how much your employees should get paid, how many hours they’ve worked, and whether or not they’ve accrued any overtime. 

Homebase’s timesheet templates are specifically designed for how you do business. Our templates don’t include any wage rate information, so your managers who don’t have access to wage rates can still fill out the timesheets. We also get that your employees can work a bunch of various roles with different wages for each, and our template takes these differences into account so you can calculate various rates with ease. 

How to effectively use timesheets at your business

If you’re looking for the how-to of effectively using timesheets at your business, you’ve come to the right place. The first way to effectively use timesheets is to simply use them to keep an accurate record of the hours your employees work. This practice ensures that employers pay their team the right amount, which means neither you nor your employees end up out of pocket.

Most businesses use some kind of timesheet system to track employee time, but there’s a range of different ways to do so. For example, some employers still use paper timesheets and online documents like Excel and Microsoft spreadsheets, while others use a less modern-way, like a check-in binder.

But if you’re using either of those timesheet options, it’s time for a change. 

Go automated with your time tracking

Consider joining thousands of small businesses who’ve found an alternative, and easier way, to do timesheets. By using a digital time tracking software, like timesheet apps, you’re choosing a more robust time-tracking solution that lets you eliminate repetitive tasks like entering hours worked, and do so without the cost and commitment of hiring a dedicated human resources manager.

Automatic employee time tracking will also save you hours on payroll every pay period. With a free integrated time clock, you can easily track employee work hours and transfer the data to your preferred payroll integration.

These solutions to timesheet troubles also offer ways to ease your scheduling woes and prevent time theft, like buddy punching. This is when an employee asks their coworkers to clock them in for them before they’ve arrived to work, and is usually done to avoid getting reprimanded for being late or to prevent the loss of wages.  

A time clock app, like Homebase, for example, assigns unique PIN codes to employees so they can clock themselves in on a mobile device. It also alerts you when an employee is late signing into their shift and takes photos of the worker when they clock in, so you can rest assured the right individual is logging the time. 

By implementing a more modern approach to timesheets at your business, you’re not just saving yourself or your employees time, but also saving money and building trust through accountability with your team. 

Ready to go paperless? Use Homebase’s automated online timesheet templates

Let’s cut the sheet—timesheets can be a nightmare. Especially the pen-and-paper kind, or their still-not-great rival: the Excel/Google spreadsheet

And because we know small business so well, including the pain you feel when it comes to dealing with timesheets, we’ve made it better than just digital. With Homebase, timesheets are automatic.

Homebase’s mobile timesheet app is an all-in-one solution to traditional and digital timesheets. It makes tracking employee time and labor costs instant and paper-free, and payroll prep faster and easier with the ability to run payroll from anywhere.

And when we say “easy”, we really mean it. 

“Before Homebase, we were printing out timesheets and manually calculating the hours,” says Ashley Ortiz, Owner at Antique Taco. “To keep up with the times, we’ve switched to Homebase, and it has made our lives so much more efficient.”

Timesheets, time clocks, and more

Paired with the Homebase time clock tool, your employees have a way to clock in-and-out of their shifts from their smart phone, tablets, computers, or POS devices. The time clock connects with your online timesheet to calculate hours and create payroll reports and wages for each team member.

Homebase’s mobile timesheet app even takes care of tallying up paid and unpaid breaks and overtime to help you stay compliant with local, state, and federal labor laws. Worried about labor leakage and time theft? Don’t be. The Homebase Timesheet app lets you stay on top of your labor costs by hour, department, and role, so you’re always in control of what and who you’re paying, without spending the hours tracking down timesheets and correcting them. 

Speaking of tracking down timesheets, all of your timesheets can be found on the “timesheet” tab on Homebase’s main menu. If your business is using the Essentials plan, you can store employee time cards securely in the cloud for four years, so you’ll be able to check them and access their full edit history at any time. Your employees can also verify their hours worked, report any errors, and track their pay—all for free. 

Timesheet templates FAQS

What is a timesheet?

A timesheet is a tool used by an employer to track how much time an employee spends on their work. They’re a record of clock ins and clock outs for hourly employees. Timesheets track team’s hours and time entries, and calculate payroll for employees based on the time they’ve worked. 

How can you use a timesheet template in your workplace?

A timesheet template is a document with a predefined page layout that allows businesses to record employee working hours, breaks, and time off more easily.

When you’re using a timesheet template in your workplace, you have the foundational systems you need to keep track of hours worked and stay compliant with state and federal labor laws.

Once your timesheet template is ready to go, you or your managers can fill it out. This lets your team know exactly how much they should get paid, how many hours they worked, and whether or not they accrued any overtime.

How can you make timesheets more efficient for employees and employers using timesheet templates? 

Timesheets don’t have to be tedious and time consuming. To make them more efficient for employees and employers, digitize them or make them automatic with a timesheet app.

Look for timesheets that allow for remote clocks ins-and-outs, so field employees don’t have to go to a central office or wait in line at your point of service (POS) terminal to start their shift. For those managing timesheets, use a tool that automatically notifies your team when they have a shift coming up or if they forget to clock in.

To make timesheets more efficient for employers, use one that offers automated payroll calculations. This can reduce typical problems with manual payroll, like human error and the amount of time it can take.

With an efficient online timesheet app, you’re doing more than totalling the hours worked, but also subtracting unpaid breaks, tallying and recording tips, and instantly calculating overtime.

Why do employees value a modern approach to timesheets?

Timesheets aren’t just a chore for managers, but for employees too. Employees have to remember to clock in-and-out on time, and without gentle reminders if they haven’t done so, they can miss out on wages or have their boss assume they’re not at work.

With a modern approach to timesheets, you can simplify the whole process for the team. And that includes getting paid. With the right tools, you can bring timesheets and payroll all in one place, instantly converting timesheets into hours and wages. Once you run payroll, you can even send direct deposits to your team—all from one app.

Not only that, your employees see what they’re getting paid and track their hours as they go. Report any corrections in the app, and coordinate and track shift swaps—in the same place.

A win-win for you—and your hourly team.

Is your business struggling with timesheets? Get Homebase for easy scheduling, time clocks, payroll, messaging, HR, compliance, and more—all in one app. Get started for free.

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