I don’t need to tell you that change is hard. Change at work is especially tough to deal with as we all get into daily habits that bring us some level of success. However, business needs change, and your office is in desperate need of a better timekeeping solution. Billing clients efficiently and accurately every month is a chore. You have to change your project time tracking process, but you know there will be opposition. I’ve got some tips to successfully introduce a new timesheet system to your team.
You’re not alone in your dilemma. There are thousands of companies out there -just like yours- who’ve outgrown a simple paper-based or Excel timesheet system. Moving your billable project time to an online system is a no-brainer.
However, one of the most popular dilemmas we often hear is: “How do I get my staff to enter their time on a regular basis? It was hard enough getting them to send an email attachment!“
Well, it’s all in the preparation and communication.
Your new online timesheet tracker is a chance for new beginnings, a chance to reset the tone with your team.
Here are some helpful tips that will ensure the transition to an online timesheet system goes smoothly and that your team will actually use it:
Choose the right timesheet and understand it thoroughly
- Create a list of problems that you want your new timesheet to solve.
- Find a timesheet solution that is either free or has a free trial without the need to enter a credit card. Don’t get invested early!
- Check off items on the list that are being solved with this timesheet. If they aren’t being solved, keep looking. There are thousands of timesheet systems out there. Here is a good list of reputable timekeeping apps.
- When you finally find a timesheet that seems to be a good fit, contact support and ask any questions you might have. This time is a good chance to see how well this company serves its clients. Problems will arise, you want to ensure you have help.
- Build your confidence in your timesheet solution, it will exude when it comes time to engage the team.
Ensure employee psychological safety
- To any unprepared employee, filling out a timesheet (online or otherwise) will either be a hindrance to their workday or a negative conduit to more work or worse, accountability: “Is big brother watching me?” or “Are they trying to find out who to cut?”
- It is crucial to be transparent about the purpose of this new timesheet. Explain the real reason why it’s essential to fill in time, and don’t dismiss any concern. All people want to be told is the truth -even if it hurts.
- Filing a timesheet can induce quite a bit of employee anxiety. Here’s a great article on the anxieties of a timesheet: Timesheet Anxiety: The Real Reason Employees Aren’t Submitting Time
Setup dedicated training time
- Once you are familiar with your new timesheet application and are comfortable with how it suits your needs, it’s time to set up some training. Start with managers or other administrators and get their buy-in and familiarity with the system. They can then help you roll it out to the rest of the team.
- Leverage any training materials that the timesheet provider may have available. Check to see if there is a demo or training session that you can arrange with them. Having someone directly involved with how the system works will inspire confidence.
- Celebrate the training with a lunch outing or have food catered. A definite “treat” after learning something new sets the right mood towards change. It’s also an excellent time to reconnect as a team. Remember, communication is such a vital cog in the workplace wheel.
Get in the habit of following up
- First off, never refer to filling out a timesheet as “adherence” or “compliance” -it’s a habit, and you must master the habit first.
- After a couple of weeks, check up on the team and see how they are doing with their timesheets. Be sure to answer any questions they have quickly, and find out from that handy support line if there are questions above your knowledge.
- Challenge everyone to “go streaking!” As in, make a chart somewhere of everyone’s timesheet habits. Check off every week that they fill out their timesheet and reward those who never miss. The real value of an online timesheet is having data in it. Make it fun and easy for employees to get that time in!
Prioritize ongoing value
- After a few months, you will begin to notice all the admin time you’re saving. Billing clients for project hours is much easier, and in turn, revenue is flowing in better. Make a note of those benefits and relay them to the team. Everyone wants to feel as though they are making a difference, and if they know that your life is easier when they submit their time, they’ll want to help.
- Be sure to share some of the reports that the timesheet system may offer with the team. When employees see the impact in numbers that their time is making, it gives them an intrinsic reward. All they see are the hours they are submitting, but when they see the collective, it becomes a team bonding moment.
Introducing change at work is a tricky task, especially when it comes to timesheets
Diving into a new online timesheet system is not an easy task. While the benefits of having one may not be immediately apparent, ensuring that you are ready, knowledgeable and transparent will go a long way to success.
Change is tough, but it’s necessary. You can’t grow personally or professionally if you don’t change. Your business is no different. Changing to a new online timesheet system enables you to grow, even if it’s uncomfortable at first.
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