Creative Tactics by Professional Services Firms to Convince Employees to Fill out Timesheets

Trends change, employees change and rules change, but there has been one constant: timesheets. Employees dislike them, and managers hate having to track down employees who conveniently ‘forget’ to submit their timesheets at the end of each week or month.

The process for both the finance departments and the employees is laborious, repetitive and time consuming. But before you decide it’s time to call in Terry Tate, Office Linebacker to ensure that timesheets get filled out on time, consider some of the more creative ways that other professional services firms have convinced employees to complete their timesheets.

Positive Timesheet Reinforcement

Timesheets for Beers

One of the more interesting ways to motivate an employee at an advertising or marketing agency to do something is with the promise of free beer. A couple concepts have emerged, one from Colle+McVoy in Minneapolis, MN, and another from JWT Agengy Casa in Brazil.

Colle+McVoy built a wondrous machine called the TapServer—a “multi-keg beer deployment system” that uses RFID and custom-written software to verify that you’ve finished your timesheets and earned your free pint.

tapserver-1 (1)

JWT Agency Casa employed a similar concept, installing a beer fridge that connects directly to the agency’s computers, remaining locked until employee timesheets are 100% complete each Friday.

Does it work? Both agencies seem to think so, and employees aren’t terribly irked about the process either; Colle+McVoy claims that the overall sentiment about timesheets has improved by 90 percent since the machine was deployed.

Are You a Member?

Another version of timesheet completion bribery comes from The Martin Agency in Richmond, VA. This lower tech version allows employees to be put on a list for access to exclusive perks including catered breakfasts, barbeque in the afternoons, candy bowls in the elevators and even a hot chocolate bar—but only if they’ve filled out their timesheets.

Negative Reinforcement

Teacupping: The Timesheet-Linked Web Blocker

Maybe a reward isn’t what you’re looking for. Iris Worldwide implemented a software system that blocks the use of Facebook, Instagram and Google from employees who haven’t finished their timesheets in a timely manner.

Sorry for the Inconvenience

In a more “holding nice things for ransom” approach, integrated advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy PDX came up with the idea to inconvenience employees more for not completing timesheets on time.

The idea was that, if 85% of employees didn’t complete their timesheets, certain perks would start disappearing:

  • The use of elevators would be restricted
  • The coffee machine would be removed
  • Cream and sugar would be removed
  • Access to the employee gym would be removed
  • No kegs would be offered to employees

Slightly More Realistic Ways to Promote Time Tracking

Maybe you don’t want to stock the beer fridge, block employees from Google, host a members-only event or hold perks for ransom in order to get employees to submit their timesheets. Here are a few easier ways to encourage employees to complete their timesheets:

  • Establish a written timesheet policy. Similar to an effective expense report policy, an effective timesheet policy will encourage on-time completion and compliance.
  • Go mobile: give your employees the ability to change and submit their timesheets wherever they are at their convenience, using a mobile app.
  • Send reminders to employees. Better yet, let a timesheets software program do the nagging for you.
  • Be transparent with employees as to why you need them to complete timesheets.
  • Remind employees that completing timesheets allows the company to more effectively allocate resources, meaning less work for them.

If this fails, you can always hire an office linebacker (though, an automated timesheets solution will be easier and way less painful!).