People’s memories are pretty unreliable. We add details to stories without realizing it, forget appointments, and forget where we put our phone down 3 minutes ago. Given how bad our memories can be, expecting employees to always remember to complete and submit their timesheets won’t always work out well.
However, a good timesheet reminder will save you from having to keep chasing people yourself. So let’s find out what a good reminder looks like, why you need them, and how to get them done.
What is a timesheet reminder?
A timesheet reminder really does what it says on the tin; it’s a reminder that prompts employees to fill out and submit their timesheets. Whether it’s done by email, verbally, or even a meme, it just needs to remind people to do their timesheets on time.
Why are they necessary?
Timesheets help managers know how much to pay their employees; identify and streamline inefficiencies in the way businesses work; and improve productivity. In order to do that, however, employees need to submit timesheets accurately and on time.
Unfortunately, as we know, people do not have good memories. If people can walk into another room and immediately forget what they’re doing, expecting them to always remember to do their timesheets isn’t a good idea. So reminders are important to just give people that extra nudge to get their timesheets done.
If someone forgets and submits their timesheets late, their memory of what happened that week is probably only going to get worse over time. If an employee submits a timesheet a few days after the deadline, it’s therefore likely to be much less accurate than if they had done it on time. Inaccuracies mean it’s harder to make use of the timesheets in a productive way, as well as a potentially inaccurate record of billable hours, so it’s important to make sure reminders do their job.
6 ways to send a timesheet reminder
Reminders are often boring, but they don’t have to be. Some managers find it fun coming up with new jokes alongside the reminder every week, or a short poem or fun fact that makes getting the reminders a bit more entertaining. Whatever you decide on, here are some ideas to start you off with:
This might be the most common way of sending out timesheet reminders. You can keep it simple and automate an email to go out every week at a certain time, or have one sitting in your outbox that you can just tweak with a little something new every week if you want to.
Emails aren’t the most effective method though - plus they’re boring! If some people don’t check emails at that time, for example, or get lots of emails all the time and miss it, then the reminder won’t have done its job. Combining an email with another reminder, then, might be a good idea.
Teams or Slack
This is an easy option that takes very little time – all it takes is sending a quick message to your Teams or Slack channel. You don’t have to think hard, and it’s easy to get the message to the whole team and know that everyone is likely to see it. You could also combine this with a meme to add a fun bit of extra flavor.
Teams and Slack channels do sometimes feel a bit informal, however, and without that formality it’s easy to let things fall through the cracks. A Teams notification is easier to get rid of than an important email, and your team might miss the notification or forget about it quickly given how many Teams and Slack messages come through every day. It could work for a casual reminder, but might not be as good for a more urgent one.
You might send them over email, text, teams or Slack, but a timesheet reminder in the form of a good meme is always fun. Or, it’s at least more fun than a drab email. Whether it’s Oprah sending a reminder to everyone in the audience, or a cute cat asking for it politely, timesheet reminders in the form of memes are a light-hearted way of nudging people towards submitting on time.
Unfortunately, you can’t get a lot of information across in a meme. If the deadline for submitting changes one week, or there’s something else related you need to let your team know about, a meme is not the best way to do it. Memes are also usually not very memorable and obviously not serious, so employees might see the reminder and quickly forget again, and the importance of getting timesheets done isn’t really communicated in a meme as opposed to an email. So again, it’s probably a good idea to use memes in combination with something else.
Probably one of the easiest ways to remind someone to do their timesheets is just to tell them as you go by their desk. There’s also evidence that verbal reminders and reminders that include extra, person-specific, information can work better than simple reminders.
For example, reminding them that they should log the meeting that might’ve slipped their mind, or the time spent doing emails in a week where there was a lot of correspondence. This information is a lot easier to fit into a conversation than a written reminder, as long emails and messages can feel arduous to read. Giving the information in a conversation, though, is quick and easy.
The big problem with verbal reminders is having to actually do them in person. Written reminders can be easily sent from your desk, but to do them verbally you have to be with the person and away from your desk.
In a small office, you might be able to walk around and find everyone, but if someone takes a coffee break at that time, there’s a meeting you can’t disturb, or if it’s just a big office, it’s likely to be hard getting a verbal reminder to everyone. It’s also time consuming, and can be draining for the manager who has to be the one to do it.
Shared Calendar event
Shared calendars can be extremely useful in keeping a team in sync, including in relation to submitting timesheets. Simply set up an event (that could be recurring to minimize effort) for the whole team that notifies everyone at the same time to do and submit their timesheets.
That way you have the reminder as well as time specifically set aside for people to get their timesheets done. You also don’t have to think about sending an email or message or finding a good meme, you can just let the calendar do its job.
Unfortunately, event reminders can sometimes fade into the background. Calendar events are easy to swipe away, or miss if you’re away from your desk or focusing on something else at the time. It can also be frustrating having time set aside to do timesheets if your focus is elsewhere.
If, for example, an employee ends up having a meeting at that time, there may be an expectation that the timesheet is already done despite the employee not having been free when the reminder went out. If the rest of the day is busy, there might not be enough time elsewhere for them to get around to completing their timesheets. So again, calendar reminders might be good for some, but are definitely best used in combination with other reminders.
Automatic time tracker
We know that people have bad memories, and if you have to remind everyone to do their timesheets, people won’t remember what they did last week. This is unfortunately going to mean your timesheets will not be accurate.
The easiest way to do timesheets, then, is with automatic time tracking. Trackers like Hubstaff, RescueTime, or Timely track how you and your team spend the day and can automatically generate timesheets without you having to do anything.
This means there’s no need for reminders. It also means that your employees don’t have to break their focus to fill out timesheets, and they can keep working on more useful and productive things. If you want to do away with the time you spend finding memes and sending extra reminders, and have genuinely accurate timesheets, then automatic time tracking is for you.
Timesheets are important, but are most useful when they’re submitted on time and accurately. That’s where reminders come in. Whether it’s an email or a Teams or Slack message, a meme or calendar reminder, or just in person, there are plenty of ways to get reminders to your team and nudge them towards submitting on time. However, the easiest way is to forgo this process altogether with automatic time tracking, which can generate timesheets and give you all the information you need with next to no effort at all. Now time to celebrate not having to send those extra reminders.