The Bundy Time Clock, often considered the earliest time clock, was invented by Willard Le Grand Bundy in the 1880s. Bundy’s model allowed employees to insert a card, which would then be stamped with their start time. To clock off, they’d do the same thing. In over 100 years since his invention was introduced to the workplace, the way we track time and attendance has changed very little.
In many workplaces, time and attendance are still measured manually, with employees writing down their start and end time on a paper timesheet. Even more basic than Bundy’s concept – which has since been made electronic – paper timesheets can be fraught with problems.
Here are six reasons why it’s time to bid goodbye to the old paper timesheet – and what to do instead.
1. They cause compliance issues
Paper timesheets are so easy to get wrong. The numbers have to be read, then transferred to a new system, where a mistake could easily occur while typing or calculating hours. An employee’s “1” looks like a “7”, or the ink was smudged, and so payroll just assumes they started at their regular time. This can cause problems with employees being over or underpaid in accordance with Modern Awards. Furthermore, under Fair Work regulations, employers have the responsibility to keep time and wage records for seven years. Even if only five employees fill out a weekly timesheet, at the end of seven years you’d end up with over 1800 pieces of paper – almost the same number of pages as the first 5 Harry Potter books!
2. People don’t fill them out correctly
It’s so easy to forget to fill out a timesheet or forget to sign it. This can mean employees or managers have to guess what time they finished or spend needless time following up timesheets that were completed incorrectly. Where employees have issues adjusting to 24-hour clocks, the problems with paper timesheets are compounded.
3. They are a leading cause of time theft
Bundy’s time clocks were easy enough to circumvent if you relied on another employee to punch your card for you. This meant employees could be paid for hours they weren’t working or turn up late without suffering from a docked pay packet. With paper timesheets, time theft and fraud are even easier. No manager can watch vigilantly as employees fill in their time, and so they can easily write down the wrong hours intentionally to increase their pay. Even an additional 15 minutes a few times a week from just one employee can result in thousands in lost revenue.
4. They cause payroll delays
Every time there is a problem with a paper timesheet, the problem has to be followed up. Whether it has been submitted late, or there’s a blank space where a time should have been recorded time, or payroll have to read the handwriting of a particularly messy worker, a delay occurs. When this happens for several employees payroll can be delayed, causing a cascade of issues for employers and employees alike.
5. Your payroll team hate them
Payroll hate paper timesheets! Data entry, chasing up missing timesheets, correcting mistakes, interpreting people’s handwriting, and transferring data between systems all give your poor payroll team (or officer) a huge headache. This leads to payroll team turnover, low morale and – you guessed it – more errors in each pay run.
6. Paper timesheets don’t give you any data visibility
With a paper timesheet, unless they are re-keyed into a system that allows it, there is just no way of clicking a button to visualise the data. A study by the University of Queensland required doctors to mark patient observation numbers on a graph as opposed to simply writing them down. Seeing patient observations displayed graphically meant doctors were able to quickly see when patients were deteriorating as opposed to interpreting each number to make a conclusion. The result was an 11% mortality decrease in intensive care units where it was trialed. Being able to increase data visibility in your workplace may not save lives, but it will make it easier to see patterns in attendance, overtime and unplanned absence and address issues as they arise, saving you thousands of dollars along the way.
Even more rudimentary than the Bundy Timeclock, paper timesheets are prone to mistakes and easily manipulated. More businesses are turning to automated, online timesheet systems as a way of measuring time and attendance. Time and attendance software provide’s a much-needed update to the time clock, automating the concept for the 21st century.
Roubler’s online timesheets have simplified the process even future. Instead of manually entering employee start and end times, the time and attendance software records the data instantly via a tablet timeclock, making data visible instantly via the dashboard. By tracking employee clock-ins and clock-outs in real-time, employers can reduce overtime by up to 26% in a month.
This form of time and attendance software removes the need for constant supervision. Employees don’t need to be monitored for time fraud – timesheet auto-approval allows employers to set rounding rules and grace periods for late attendance or if employees work late. Mistakes that would normally occur when calculating payroll are eliminated with automatic synchronization and Modern Award interpretation,
Gone are the days of punching cards or writing down numbers. In the same way rostering has become automated, so too we are moving towards online timesheets to save time and money, and get employers back to the job of running their business.