Ideas to Encourage Employees to Submit Time and Expense Reports on Time and With Accuracy

July 24, 2020 Trilby Lawless

It’s often the task that separates you from the weekend or going home for the day so no wonder it gets a bad rep. Time and expense tracking are historically tedious and often pushed aside when employees are prioritizing what needs to be done. If you’re reading this, I’m sure you’ve reached a level of frustration with your staffers as you know how vital this information is to keep your firm’s financials and projects on track. 

But not to worry, this is a bad habit that can be easily fixed with the right coaxing. We gathered the tips that actually work for getting your whole team on board to track their time and expenses regularly and with accuracy. 

Show the Value 

The most universal motivator is the why. Expecting a task to get done without explaining the value behind it does little to motivate, like asking a teenager to make a bed. Take the time during onboarding, or during a town hall if your whole firm needs a refresher, to go through how the process of tracking time and expenses connects to the bigger picture of the way your firm functions. Having your employees invested in the process will put the task higher on their priority list. This will also help bridge the gap between finance and project management to increase productivity

Make it easy 

The simpler the better. Do a thorough audit of your time and expense tracking requirements to see where you can cut out inefficiencies. Having software that creates a uniformed process for all employees, instead of independent tracking in Excel is a great place to start. Our clients use our software to reduce the margin of error in their time and expense tracking and therefore cut down on the number of corrections needed. For example, only allowing staffers to track to the projects and tasks assigned to them instead of filtering through the choices, or marking certain fields required so what’s expected of them is clear. Being able to access timesheets or expense reports from any computer or mobile app also helps, especially while working remotely. Tracking billable hours on the go is easier when it’s top of mind and improves accuracy. 

Try out different cadences 

Many firms see success in daily time tracking as it’s easier to remember when the day is fresh in your mind and less of a headache trying to recall what was worked on. However, following that routine may not work for your firm’s project structures. Test out daily, weekly, biweekly, and see what works best. Once you have found the system you like, make it a formal policy for your firm. It may take a while for employees to form the habit and as always there will be some resistance to change, but at least you’ll be confident you made the best choice for accuracy and productivity.

Rely less on memory 

As we suggested in the other tips, often what causes the frustration in time and expense tracking is having to recall on your memory. Especially when juggling many different projects, it can become a time-consuming task in itself. The best way to start relying less on memory is to make changes to the way you work. Using an integrated timer for tasks within your time tracking software helps many, or a softer approach is using your calendar to block out time for tasks. Instead of making a to-do list of 5 things for the day, mark them as time blocks on your calendar. Then, when you look back you already have an estimate of how much time each task took and can record notes on if it took more or less time after completed. 

Ask for feedback

Don’t be afraid to ask staffers why their time and expense tracking is lacking. Chances are their pain points will overlap and there will be a more obvious solution. If you are in the process of adapting a new time tracking software, get your employee’s feedback on if project codes or other custom fields are working for the way they track their projects. Now is a great time to make any adjustments before you’re too deep into a system. 

More than anything, don’t forget patience. It’s never going to be the most thrilling part of anyone’s job, but with the right software and processes in place, time and expense tracking can run seamlessly in the background to where you forget it was ever a nuisance at all. 

We hope these tips can help guide you out of your time and expense tracking slump, and if you’re ready to see how BigTime’s Professional Services Automation software could work for your firm, please schedule your personalized demo here

Looking to learn more about time tracking software before diving in? Check out this starter guide for everything you need to know.

About the Author

Trilby Lawless

Digital Content Manager

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