Posted in HR Automation

How to Automate Employee Timesheet Approval – A Complete Guide for HR

Clock in, clock out time management

Timesheet tracking has been around for years. Punch cards, clocking in and out, ID forms, paper forms, Excel – we’ve seen every variant.

But, these processes are tedious and HR departments struggle to manage them. They must organize, deal with and approve timesheets for dozens or even hundreds of employees at the same time.

In today’s business world, these old-fashioned methods are too time consuming and they waste company time. Optimize your company for the 21st century by automating long, manual processes. Timesheet management is a simple, relatively frequent, and time consuming process. It’s a perfect candidate for automation.

Why Won’t Old Methods Work Anymore?

Out of date processes involve too much paper.

Out-of-date manual processes negatively affect your company. First, paper itself costs companies lots of money every year. It may not seem like such a big expense, but according to Corp Magazine, U.S. businesses waste $8 billion annually just managing paper.

On average, it costs an organization $20 to file a document, $120 to find a misplaced document, and $220 to reproduce a lost document. Aside from this, employees who are constantly buried in paperwork are unhappy, more stressed, and less productive.

Automation decreases the amount of paperwork — this improves employee morale and increases productivity since processes take much less time to complete. Approximately 60% of occupations could save 30% of their time with automation.

Discover how frevvo can help you automate HR processes using our modern, visual platform.

Take a look at some old-fashioned timesheet tracking methods and see why a modern company can’t afford to use them anymore:

Time Cards and Punch Clocks

The time card is a rather primitive form of timesheet tracking. An employee inserts their card and the system stamps it with the current time. This made sense early on, but there are many disadvantages to this system. 

  • Lines — This system comes with long lines to clock in and out. Employees end up standing in line first thing in the morning instead of getting straight to work. The last employee in line is the last one to start their daily tasks, and this time starts to add up.
  • Human error — An employee may incorrectly insert their card and get the wrong time stamp. But, it’s very hard to correct the error once the card is updated. Fixing the error is time consuming and costly.
  • “Buddy punching” — This is when an employee takes someone else’s card to punch in for them, making it seem like they worked more hours. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated that if 16% of the estimated 78 million hourly workers in the American workforce added 15 minutes to a coworker’s timesheet by buddy punching, it would add more than $373 million to the annual payroll bill.

Badge Scanning

Badge Scanning is more efficient, but still has issues.

This is exactly what it sounds like — The employee comes into work, scans their badge, and gets an electronic time stamp. They do the same when they leave. Badge scanning is similar to the time card system, and has most of the same issues.

However, unlike time cards, your badge goes home with you. If an employee forgets their badge by accident, HR has to manually input information to keep things on track. Badge scanning is a step up from time cards because it’s electronic, but “buddy punching” is still possible unless there’s someone checking badges and holding the scanner.

Time cards and badge scans used to be the most simple and efficient way to track work hours, but the consequences outweigh the pros. Minimize the risk of “time theft” by letting employees fill out their timesheets on their own time from their own desk.

Paper Forms

Paper forms may seem like a good option to avoid long lines, but using paper has many issues that hold companies back. Employees fill out paper forms on their own time, but they’re complex, inefficient and hard to keep track of. Here are some issues that come with using paper forms:

  • People misplace paper all the time. When they lose a timesheet, it takes a lot of time and effort to replace it. That’s 100% waste.
    • Printing, signing, scanning, emailing, etc. takes valuable time away from things that really matter. 
  • Employees sometimes have illegible handwriting. Hopefully, you don’t run into this problem often, but if you misread a timesheet you directly affect an employee’s pay. Fixing this mistake is time consuming and irritating, and that time should be spent on customers.
  • Companies need to reduce paper waste in an effort to help the environment. The cost of paper may not be that much, but when you add up the costs of printing, storing, filing, maintenance, etc., it makes a sizable dent in company funds.
Stay away from paper.

Reduce waste and increase efficiency by staying away from paper!

Emailing Excel Sheets

Using Excel is a step in the right direction: employees fill their timesheets out on their own, and they reduce paper waste since they are electronic. But, Excel sheets have their own set of problems. 

  • Excel doesn’t include the technology to check and verify your timesheet. If you accidentally input the wrong hours and miss the mistake, Excel can’t warn you that you’ve done so.
  • Once you save, download, and email an Excel sheet to the manager, it’s impossible to gain access and fix mistakes in the same sheet. You have to send an additional email with the same updated attachment (usually documentX (1).pdf). 
Inbox flooding is inefficient and stressful.
  • This results in what we call “inbox flooding.” The manager now has 2 emails with seemingly the same document. If multiple employees do this, the manager’s inbox is quickly flooded with messages, burying urgent emails under less important ones. 
  • If the manager accidentally clicks the first attachment (the incorrect one), your paycheck may be unexpectedly smaller.

So how can we prevent this? All of this is easily avoidable if you use intuitive software that catches mistakes, allows you to edit, and doesn’t require email.

Electronic Timesheet Tracking 

Companies in the 21st century need to automate processes to increase efficiency and reduce paper waste. Those who fail to digitize risk obsolescence and expose themselves to far nimbler competitors.

Timesheet tracking and approval is a perfect example of a process that’s ripe for automation.

  • This process typically has multiple stakeholders who must approve so paper or email is wasteful and inefficient.
  • It’s frequent so the inefficiency compounds. Even small savings in individual timesheets multiply into large savings for the organization as a whole.
  • Electronic timesheets, employees fill out timesheets in a timely manner. There’s no the system
  • There’s no paperwork to wade through, no emails to scroll through, and no risk of losing relevant information. 
  • Software makes it easier on the employee too. Instead of spending time filling in first name, last name, employee ID, email, etc., it automatically fills in employee information based on their login credentials. 
  • Software also gives you the option to save and continue later, instead of having to start over each time. 
  • Automation technology ensures that completed timesheets are properly routed to the right person at the right time.
  • When an employee finishes an electronic timesheet, it’s in the manager’s hands for approval within minutes. 
  • The manager can view and approve the timesheet from anywhere and on any device. Even if your manager is traveling, you can get your timesheet approved and your payment processed.
  • The software notifies a manager, sends reminders and can escalate to a different person. HR doesn’t have to waste time chasing down signatures and approvals.
Automation delivers astounding ROI.

How frevvo Can Help

frevvo’s HR workflow automation software uses modern business technology to help automate your business processes. The software creates visually appealing forms that are incredibly easy to use. Using frevvo, you can drastically cut down paper usage without spending extensive time training employees to use the software. 

Some key features of frevvo include:

  • No coding — no need to hire experienced programmers to implement it. 
  • Automatic validation — the system immediately brings mistakes to your attention before you submit the form. 
  • Integration with SQL databases, Active Directory and other business systems – significantly reduces manual data entry.
  • Workflow – the system automatically routes forms to the proper users and roles without emails, phone calls, and wasted time.
  • Built-in mobility — software is accessible on any device and you can build, fill-out, and approve from anywhere in the world.
Simple visual tools for business process automation

Use frevvo to automate your timesheets. The process is easy, self-explanatory, and organized. Employees no longer have to spend their time tracking down papers, waiting on their manager, or trying to fix errors — they can fill their timesheet out in a few clicks and track their timesheet from submitted to approved right from their desk.


As companies optimize for the 21st century, timesheet tracking must evolve with them. The old methods — physical time cards, scanned ID badges, paper forms, and Excel sheets just don’t work anymore. They are time consuming and inefficient, and cause HR employees too much stress. In today’s business world, using old methods wastes company time. Timesheet submission is the perfect place to start using automation technology.

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