6 Ways How to Get Employees to Submit Timesheets on Time

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 19/02/2019
submit timesheets on time

In this article, we are addressing business owners and managers that pay their staff for the hours they worked. It’s a common issue the timesheets aren’t sent in before the deadline or are not sent in full. It causes disruptions to pay cycles. This is why we are eager to share actionable tips on how to get employees to submit timesheets on time.

Filling out timesheets is a major bugbear among employees. Especially if they need to submit the hours on a regular basis. Let’s face it: it’s not the most enjoyable of tasks. However, it’s a lot of work for HR when they have to constantly chase up complete timesheets from staff. If you’re a small company, chances are YOU are the one who has to do it. The chasing, the corrections…All nine yards. And we don’t need to tell you how much time that takes.

You’ve probably tried sending weekly email reminders, stern talk and maybe even threatened not to pay your employees on time. This might have worked for a while, but before you knew it, you’d run into the same problem. If all this rings a bell, it’s time to change your approach. Your team may be needing a kick of motivation to inspire them to submit their timesheets in full and on time. We will share some tips that could come in handy. But first, let’s look at the issue itself.

Why Employees Aren’t Submitting Timesheets?

It may seem odd workers who are paid hourly are hesitant to fill and submit their timesheets. But it’s a common occurrence. There isn’t a definite answer as to why. Some report being anxious they’re not putting in enough hours. Others find the process too long and too complicated. There are also those who generally see no point in submitting their timesheets. And those who simply forget to record their time.

Regardless of the reason, unsubmitted timesheets wind up costing companies billions every year. To prevent it from happening, we put together 6 ways to get your employees to submit timesheets on time.

How to Encourage Employees to Submit Their Timesheets

There are six ways you make your staff more eager to submit their timesheets in a timely manner. They are the following:

  1. Explain what’s in it for them

  2. Make the process quick and easy

  3. Practice quick correspondence yourself

  4. Express gratitude 

  5. Offer rewards

  6. Introduce automation to aid them

Since these are very vague points, below we will expand on each of them.

1. Highlight the Benefit

It might sound like something unnecessary, but give employees a reason to fill in timesheets. Namely, let them know it benefits them in a big way as timely timesheet submissions mean timely and accurate pay. Timesheets help to limit multi-tasking and make the billing cycle quicker. It leads to a more efficient business – who doesn’t want that?

Of course, your staff know their pay is dependent on the timesheets. However, some people naturally struggle with motivation. Therefore they are occasionally in need of being reaffirmed what they do is for their own benefit. Additionally, by focusing on communicating what’s in it for them instead of trying to guilt them for inconveniencing you, you will also express being appreciative of them. This itself makes people want to be kind and mindful back.

2. Keep it Simple

Workers will dread filling out timesheets if they know the task takes them half an hour at the end of each day. Keeping the process short and sweet will be doing them a favour. You will also waste less time chasing them. A word of advice is to avoid making your tracking granularity too fine. Otherwise, employees will spend ages detailing unnecessary tasks that might have taken them minutes. It will be as jarring for you to check as it is for them to fill.

All in all, the easiest way of getting your staff to submit timesheets on time is to make the process quick. Then it becomes something as natural as taking one’s shoes off after work. Keep it to the bare essentials and don’t turn it into an additional task. This way you can get the reports you need without making your employees walk the extra mile.

3. Set an Example

You need to practice what you preach. Set an example by making sure you respond to employee queries and requests in a timely manner. Never leave them waiting longer than they should. Do this and they’re more likely to imitate your behaviour. Punctuality is a little like trust in this respect – you’ve got to give it to earn it.

You will win favours by showing you will hold yourself to the same standard you expect from them. Instead of making demands, portray your requirements by illustrating them yourself.

4. Thank Them

A simple ‘thank you’ goes an incredibly long way, especially in the workplace. Personally thanking employees for submitting their timesheets on time – particularly those who have regularly missed deadlines in the past – will help to reinforce good practice. It will also inspire them to remain punctual. It may not always be easy to thank them face to face, but a personal email should do the trick.

This too falls into the category of nourishing compliance through expressing genuine care. Very often employees feel underappreciated and taken for granted. A small gesture acknowledging their input and expressing gratitude can be very powerful. Put yourself in their shoes - would rather do your best to help someone who’s appreciative of you or someone who only demands the results? 

5. Gamify the Process

Some companies might be wary of rewarding employees for submitting timesheets online. But if you’re open to the idea, you could ‘unlock’ certain rewards for staff members who get their sheets in on time. For instance, a box of chocolates or an early finish. You might also want to reward the entire team once all the timesheets are in on a Friday. For example, with free after-work drinks and nibbles.

You can always turn it into a team sport too for some healthy competition. Teams can be randomised or put together based on criteria. The ones with timesheets submitted at the earliest time and with the least mistakes are to be rewarded. Such an approach would also encourage team members to hold each other accountable. Overall, don’t be scared to play. Gamifying a tedious process is likely to be a good initiative to make it enjoyable. 

6. Simplify with Automation  

Automation is here to make our lives easier – including your life and your employees’ lives. Utilising automated timesheets will streamline the submission process, save time for your staff and will ultimately make your business more efficient.

Using our invoicing module will allow you to invoice directly from your timesheets. Alternatively, you can export them directly into other management information systems. This way you can keep track of project budgets and progress. Our timesheet software can replace your current paper-based timesheet system. Make it simpler for employees to log their hours. Timesheets are submitted by workers and, if needed, can be approved by their manager.

Here are some of the things you can do:

  • Enter time in hours or days

  • Track numerical quantities such as items sold or sales calls made

  • Create custom rates (e.g. overtime)

  • Auto convert total hours per day to man-days worked

  • Enter notes for work performed

  • Auto-split weekly timesheets into separate monthly timesheets

  • Submit timesheets by text


There are many reasons why your employees are not submitting their timesheets on time. And there are just as many ways to ensure they do. Instead of reprimanding and punishing your staff, try approaching them from a place of empathy. And, if anything, try and make them see you genuinely care about them. More than you do about the timesheets. Goodwill is usually repaid in full. In this case, acknowledging their needs and appreciating their effort has the potential of becoming their drive.

Timesheet Portal will empower your employees to manage their timesheets more effectively. With timesheet rules, it’s impossible to submit incorrect hours, leading to greater accuracy across the board. What’s more, it will make timesheet submission an easy, straightforward process that requires no effort applied to it. You can even set up an email and SMS reminder system to chase up the employees who haven’t submitted their timesheets. Forget about doing the footwork yourself.

If you want to see our software in action, why not start a free trial today?

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Timesheet Portal online software provided by Anfold Software Ltd, a registered company in the UK.