Time Tracking for Muggles: 3 Tips So Simple, You’ll Swear They’re Magic


Keeping track of things like employee hours and overtime by hand or in an Excel spreadsheet isn’t just a time-suck. It’s dangerous. That’s because (unless you’re a member of the wizarding community, capable of magically avoiding payroll mistakes) human error can expose a business to all kinds of lawsuits. Besides that, not switching to an updated system may rob the business of better opportunities like more accurate timesheets and a complete record of payrolls past that can protect it in an audit.

So whether you have to bribe your bookkeeper to set aside their calculator or just stab the ol’ Excel spreadsheet with a basilisk fang, here are three convincing reasons to make a change.


1. Automated time tracking can prevent wage theft.

Not paying employees for all the time they’ve worked is a good way to wind up hexed. Ok, maybe not. But wage theft can lead to lawsuits. The trouble is most employers who commit wage theft don’t know they’re doing it, but that won’t get them out of an expensive FLSA lawsuit.

Is automated time tracking the solution?

Keeping track of employee time with punch cards, and then paying employees based on DIY calculations, creates a wide margin of error. Whether it’s calculating for California’s double time, paying retail and food service employees time and a half for an unscheduled shift, or remembering who’s exempt and who’s not among salaried workers, chances are good someone is being underpaid.

All accidents aside, the harsh reality is some employers (around 10 percent, according to a recent TSheets survey) actually do commit wage theft on purpose. These individuals admitted to shaving time off their employees’ timesheets by rounding up clock-in times or down clock-out times when filling out payroll.

This is an incredibly dangerous practice. Not only can workers sue for wage theft, but FLSA penalties often make it into the tens of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. It’s also the kind of thing Bellatrix Lestrange would think up, and no one wants her for a role model.

Investing in a software like TSheets for time tracking or QuickBooks for payroll will give you access to built-in features that can protect a business against wage theft. Account administrators can turn on certain settings, like location tracking (for tax purposes) and how they want overtime calculated. Add in a PTO balance, and that balance will update automatically as employees accrue or use PTO. Plus, thanks to seamless integrations, data like time and pay can move from one app to the other without losing anything along the way.


2. Automated time tracking can deter time theft.

On the flip side of wage theft is time theft. Just as some employers might shave a few minutes off their employees’ timesheets and round down for payroll, many employees pad their timesheets. You might remember a recent TSheets blog revealed half of US employees admit to adding between 15 minutes and an hour to their timesheets for a grand total of $11 billion dollars a year in unworked hours.

Then there was our November piece that shared this startling statistic: 56 percent of employers found errors on a fourth of their employee timesheets. Six percent found errors on all their employee timesheets.

Of course, accidents certainly do happen, and some of those errors may have been unintentional. But the beauty of switching to a digital timesheet system is that room for error is dramatically reduced. Employees clock in when they’re ready to work and clock out when they’re finished.

Business owners with remote employees can use GPS tracking features to hold employees accountable for clocking in only once they’re actually ready to work or are at the proper job site. And features like the Who’s Working window can also help keep employees honest.

The best part is these features are good for employees too. Data that proves an employee is where they said they were can be a defining piece of evidence in a labor dispute or something more positive like a promotion. Likewise, the Who’s Working window helps workers know who’s on the clock and available to help at any time of day.


3. Automated time tracking can help keep records organized.

Relying on paper timesheets is a bit like hiding something valuable in the Room of Requirement. Paper was made to be lost, misfiled, hidden between folders or drawers, accidentally tossed into the trash with the mail — the scenarios are limitless. And while all our problems would be solved if we could simply say “Accio timesheet,” that capability isn’t likely to show up anytime soon.

*sigh* If only we could …

That’s why it’s so important to digitize systems and keep important records in the cloud. Paper timesheets are easily misplaced, and besides that, keeping them all filed in case of an audit takes up precious space. For that matter, even Excel spreadsheets can be lost in the wake of a system meltdown or data breach.

Keeping all employee timesheets in TSheets and employee payroll records on QuickBooks Online ensures those records will always be there. Plus, thanks to archive features, employers can keep a clean list of current employees front and center. Need to look back at past times and wages for someone who left the company months ago? Simply pull up the archived employee and view their history. No need to request a Time-Turner from the Ministry of Magic to take a look into the past.


A technology solution that works like magic

You don’t need magic to keep an organization safe from threats like time theft, wage theft, and audits. Technology solutions like TSheets and QuickBooks offer peace of mind for employees and employers alike, with fail-safe features designed to get people paid accurately and on time, every time.


Stop tracking time like a muggle. Start your free 14-day trial now!