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Finding the best timesheet app – why employee time theft should be your #1 criteria

When looking for a better way to manage timesheets it is natural to search the web and choose one of the first search results you get and to be done with it. After all, you don't want the decision which software to use to take years in a game of hot potato between your department heads and the executive team.

The decision may not be as straightforward as it seems, as when it comes to timesheets there is no one app that suites all. What may work well in one industry may not translate to another. And while other software makers are reluctant to say so – almost every app has a unique approach that suits a particular set of sectors.

Our common goal: a confident decision

The aim of this article is to give you the true confidence of making the right choice by judging different software offerings by the most important factor that is almost always ignored. At PARiM we deal with complex timesheets used in staff-intensive sectors such as security, healthcare, hospitality, events and so forth every day. That does not make PARiM automatically the best fit for you. Still, you can learn a bit from our insights and experience when it comes to tracking time and attendance.

Where do timesheets come from anyway?

Before we talk about choosing the best timesheet app, we have to define timesheets themselves – their origin, what they are are and what you can do with them.

At a time when it can appear that digital time clocks are already dominant, the Cambridge English Dictionary still defines timesheets seemingly somewhat anachronistically: "A piece of paper on which an employee records the number of hours they have worked". However, data shows that 25% of companies who track time and attendance actively admit still utilising only paper timesheets, with the actual percentage estimated to be higher. So there is some merit to that definition.

Paper timesheets have an interesting history

While being incredibly inefficient companies using paper timesheets are at least following a time-honoured process. Did you know that the first known timesheets were used to help build the Great Pyramid in Giza? Therefore, every time you deal with timesheets either as a worker or as a manager you are going through the same process as the pyramid builders.

That's according to the History is Now magazine – which reported that the first timesheets in the world were discovered in Egypt in 2013 by French archaeologists from the Sorbonne. The discovered documents date back to the reign of the Pharaoh Khufu, who lived in the 26th century BC – that is more than 4,500 years ago. The magazine states:

The oldest diary and account sheets on paper were found by Prof. Tallet of the Sorbonne in 2013. The documents were the work of Inspector Merer, an agent of Pharaoh Khufu. Some of the documents discovered by Tallet consist of timesheets, grids with horizontal lines subdivided into thirty boxes with columns to record the daily activities of a large team of workers over the course of each month. This mostly concerned their progress in fetching limestone slabs at Tura and delivering them to Giza. The team scribes entered tasks and project goals on lists separated by horizontal lines. At every stage of the operation, a notation of progress or date of completion would be added to track overall progress.

Digital timesheets – a modern necessity

Fast forward 4,500 years and these days digital timesheets are essential to the functioning and ultimate effectiveness of a business. Without recording when employees are working in a digital system your people simply are not able to share information between stakeholders like accounting, management and supervisors in a time-efficient manner.

The need for timesheet apps can be also translated into cold hard cash as studies show that companies that use paper timesheets lose 6% to 8% of their annual payroll costs due to miscalculations and missing data. If you run a business where payroll costs are your biggest cost centre, then a professional timesheet app more or less pays for itself from day one.

Timesheet apps range from simple clock-in apps to all-in-one solutions like PARiM that combine clock-in functionality with cutting edge time and attendance tracking tools and advanced scheduling and reporting functionality. Here's a brief overview:

The benefits of a comprehensive solution like PARiM are plentiful. These include:

  • A reliable way to track timesheet data even in real-time
  • An accurate billing process for staff services with both pay and charge rates.
  • Improved productivity thanks to using fast and modern mobile and web applications
  • Increased profitability with better position coverage, qualification match and charge/billing rates management
  • Clearer communication between employees and management with shift reminders and notifications
  • A multitude of information contained within one application for easy access (wages, schedules, working hours, overtime pay)
  • A deeper understanding of how your business functions by keeping track who did what and when from management to cleaners
  • Implementing time-saving technology across all levels of your organisation
  • Helps your organisation achieve sustainability goals thanks to the vast amount of paper you'll save.

Employee time theft – #1 unspoken problem

In exploring the benefits associated with using solutions like PARiM you may miss the most critical one – the potential for preventing employee time theft.

In a complete reversal to the time of the pyramids – where the number one item tracked in timesheets was not time itself but actually bread and consumption other items of food and workers and their time was abundant – we live in an age of food abundance and labour shortage so timesheets are less focused on what your people consume and more about accurately measuring their attendance, time worked and pay. The main concern is not the theft of bread but that of time.

The term ‘employee time theft’ refers to the process by which an employee takes money for the time they did not work. It is considered stealing time from a firm and thus, a form of theft. Employee time theft is not restricted to any industry or type of business, however, it is more common for those employees receiving pay on an hourly basis. Time theft alone costs U.S. businesses more than $400 billion in lost work.

To say employee time theft can become a costly issue within a business is an understatement. If employees receive pay for the time they did not work, this quickly can become a problem that undermines the very core of a company. Employee time theft can negatively influence business in a variety of ways, including:

  • Reducing profitability
  • Undermining the sense of trust, honesty and integrity within a business
  • Reducing productivity
  • Encouraging other employees to also steal time, having a negative compound effect

These are just some of the issues employee time theft can pose to a company. That’s why having the right strategies in place to avoid time theft is essential for the success of a business. Unfortunately, with conventional timesheet apps – employee time theft is not only something that can continue to exist but can also be enabled and encouraged amongst your workers.

That is because employee time theft is a difficult problem with a multilayered set of solutions, where no single solution completely remedies the issue. And many seemingly nice features such as shift swapping can aggravate it.

How PARiM can help eliminate employee time theft

We are proud to state that PARiM's Time and Attendance module is one of the only tools on the market that offers the focused core functionality you need to solve the most substantial parts of the time theft problem.

We have written previously how you as a leader and your management team can benefit from PARiM's real-time attendance monitoring, GPS-based location sending, geofencing warnings & attendance reconfirmation but the truly remarkable part is that all of the four solutions only take a mere instant to perform by your staff, once you explain how to perform them – and we have helpful videos and best-in-class support articles so you don't have to even think about that either.

For example, sending your location takes only a single tap on a button in the mobile app and moreover the button is unmissable right on the Time Clock view on the app:

Once the employee sends their location, you can view their location right in real-time in PARiM's Time Clock view in the web app for managers. Similarly to a conventional clock-in it shows a coloured pin (red to notify out of range locations) for easy recognition along with the distance to pre-set location when you hover over the pin with a mouse and a list of all clock-ins or sent locations for a single shift once you click on the pin:



So, with PARiM's technology all you have to do is to ensure your employees understand that their role includes doing specific small tasks like confirming their attendance a determined time before the start of their shifts or asking them to send their location in regular intervals during a shift. These take a mere second but even with two simple additions, you can cut a large amount of time theft and stand out for superior and on-time service by your people as compared to your competitors.

Furthermore, the snowball of efficiency really starts rolling when your supervisors and team-leaders use PARiM alongside your staff - them leading by example establishes a positive work environment and an honest company culture, helping to avoid employee time theft.

The verdict: saving money is more than a slogan with PARiM

To summarise, paper-based and simple online timesheet solutions are perfect for tracking when time is a limited and relatively static quantity. However, that is not the case in today's fast-paced business environment.

With PARiM, far less time and effort are required to accurately record employees' working hours, pay and charge/billing rates and hundreds of other crucial data points in complex business scenarios. Thereby saving money for businesses and improving profitability.

As significant as these benefits are – more importantly, PARiM uniquely helps to reduce employee time theft with 4 dead-simple features:

.. all of which can save a business a significant amount of more money, especially in the long run. Not to speak of adding to morale, reputation and both customer and employee satisfaction metrics. You can combine these features with PARiM's advanced reporting for pay and position coverage to ensure each employee receives the amount of pay they deserve, while helping you save money as you avoid overpaying employees.

Thus, it’s clear that PARiM can be endlessly beneficial, particularly so when it comes to saving money and time for businesses. We encourage you to book a free demo to find out whether PARiM can fit your business.

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