Accountants & Bookkeepers

Everyone Should Track Their Time. Yes, Even Salaried Employees

Joseph Patterson | November 3, 2017
Everyone has that runner friend who takes their hobby very seriously. You know the type: the work-out-daily, rain-or-shine, power-through-the-pain runner who spends their vacation time on marathons and considers sprinting uphill a “fun challenge.”Then there are those friends who are a tad less intense about their running. They’re not out to break any records. They’re just running for fun and taking a few Facebook selfies along the way. What do these two types of runners have in common? They’re both passionate about tracking their progress, and they both get a lot out of the documented results. Everything from heart rate and miles covered to likes and shares. After all, when you can see your work in numbers and stats, you can set trackable goals. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fully committed athlete or a weekend warrior, knowing the numbers behind your efforts allow you the luxury of looking back later and saying confidently, “This is what I did.”Tracking time as a salaried employee is much the same. And if you are the manager or CEO of salaried workers, it’s important you know that asking your salaried employees to track their time is just as much in their interest as yours.

Time tracking is in your employees’ best interest

We’ll cover this section first because the biggest hurdle you’re up against is convincing your salaried employees that tracking time is good for them. No one likes the added task of punching in at the start and end of a workday, particularly when they feel the time on the card doesn’t show the whole picture. But what if it did? Many salaried employees put in 40 hours in the office and an additional 20 at home. Keeping track of that time outside the office can better clarify where time is actually spent, how well their day is organized, and even if they’re being properly compensated for the time they put in.

1. Employees can hold you accountable for unrealistic work expectations.

Think about it. If your employees were tracking every hour of time they worked — every 4 a.m. international business call, every 18-hour weekend, every 12-hour workday — you might be more inclined to listen if they told you they needed some help. As Liz Ryan, CEO and founder of Human Workplace and author of “Reinvention Roadmap,” states in her brutally honest Forbes article, “Five Ways Salaried Employees Get Ripped Off,” many employers expect salaried employees to work more than 40-hour workweeks. But they also expect those employees to come in at the same start time everyone else in the office is held to. The result is salaried workers who feel overworked, putting in time on the weekends or in the evenings on top of their regular 9-to-5 work, Monday through Friday. Having concrete evidence on hand, in the form of time cards and reports, is one way salaried employees can make their case for a more flexible start time or a new hire who can shoulder some of the work.

2. By tracking time and projects, employees can take charge of their reviews.

Whether your company evaluates raises on a quarterly or annual basis, the main difficulty for employees requesting a bump in pay is justifying why they deserve an increase. With the proof of a thoroughly filled-out employee timesheet on their side, salaried employees will find it easier to convince you the work they do and the time they put in deserves a raise.

3. Advanced Tracking features help keep employees organized and protected.

If you haven’t checked out the Advanced Tracking add-on in the TSheets app, you need to. Create classes, service items, tasks, and more to help employees stay organized. You can even have them answer mandatory questions like “Were you injured on the job?” Requiring even your salaried employees to note which client they’re working with and what they’re doing for that client serves multiple purposes. First, it’s helpful for discussions later. Managers won’t have to ask what an employee was doing last week. They can simply pull up the employee’s payroll report and see for themselves. What’s more, should a client refute their bill and argue your employee did not spend as much time on a project as they billed, it’s easy to check the employee’s time log for that client. Simply pull up the employee’s job report or GPS points if the job was done on the client’s property. No need to worry about “he said, she said” when you have the proof right in front of you.

4. If your salaried employees are non-exempt, tracking time is how they’ll collect overtime pay.

Another way salaried workers can benefit from tracking time has to do with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), though to be fair, it’s a benefit for both the employer and the employee. We’ve written about FLSA laws before, and if you’re up to date on the latest news circling around the expansion of the federal overtime rule, you’re likely on the edge of your seat like we are, wondering what’s going to happen next. For those in need of a refresher, as it stands, the law states that any overtime worker making $23,660 or less qualifies for overtime when they work more than 40 hours a week (there are some other stipulations too, depending on your profession — click here for more information). Last year, the Department of Labor announced a plan to increase that number to $47,000, with the intention of updating that amount every three years to reflect inflation. Since then, that plan has been struck down and called unconstitutional, but the latest news suggests that such a reform may not be entirely dead in the water. Most reports are predicting that the Trump Administration could approve a new salary threshold of around $33,000, meaning any salaried employee who makes $33,000 or less would qualify for overtime. If you have salaried employees making $33,000 or less, time tracking will be essential for making sure they get their time-and-a-half after 40 hours. Should you fail to enforce this, you will be putting yourself at risk for an expensive wage and hour suit.  

Tracking salaried employee time is in your best interest too

Even if all your salaried employees are well over the $33,000 salary threshold, there are other reasons for tracking their time, starting with the FLSA.1. When all employees track their time, you are also protected. In a previous blog about FLSA wage and hour lawsuits, we discussed the fact that these pricey lawsuits are on the rise. If an employee (wrongly) claims they’re consistently being overworked and underpaid, you’ll want hard evidence that says otherwise. Showing the court the employee’s timesheet that clearly supports your case is the best proof you could ask for. One FLSA rule for non-exempt employees is employers must have at least two years of timesheet records on hand, in order to be compliant. Keeping at least two years’ worth of records on exempt, salaried employees as well can only help your case, should your company come under scrutiny.

2. Time tracking and Advanced Tracking are good for productivity.

Not everyone needs a timer to help them stay focused on the job at hand, but some people thrive on structured time tracking. This increased productivity is one really great reason for asking salaried workers to clock in. As this post from software development firm Atomic Object reveals, tracking time is an essential part of staying focused and managing priorities. “Tracking time at the team level is important to make sure projects stay on track with a predictable level of effort,” says Shawn Crowley, a writer for the company’s “Great Not Big” blog. “[Employees] track and review their individual time to help balance their billable time with other activities like blogging, community events, or hiring.” Understandably, we’re a little biased, but at TSheets, we believe our product is better than any other time tracking or task management tool out there. “Most project management software is going to focus on the project management aspect,” says Jake Albers, Training and Development Specialist for TSheets. “TSheets is great because we’re not a Jack-of-all-trades company. We’re focused solely on time tracking and being the best at time tracking ... You use TSheets and tracking and reporting is taken care of. Then you can use all those accurate hours to create invoices, create vendor bills, or figure out job costing.” And speaking of job costing …

3. Job costing is applicable to ALL employees.

When most employers think about job costing, hourly employees are top of mind. The employee earns $20 an hour and spends two hours at Job Site A, using $100 in materials to perform X service. How much is the employer spending on that job, including employee time, gas, and materials, as opposed to how much the customer is getting billed for that service? But job costing isn’t just applicable to hourly employees. Knowing how much you should bill for a job, even when the employee working on it is salaried is equally relevant. “Job costing compares your revenues to expenses.” says Albers, “It gives you a breakdown of how much [the employee is] earning and how many hours they’re spending on a job or project, and then it generates an estimated cost.” Balancing your expenses and earnings is an important part of running a successful business, and knowing where your employees are investing their time is the first step. The insight you gain from the hours they track may help you make decisions about hiring, prices, products, and services.
A common misconception that’s been built into the American workforce is that tracking time is only relevant for hourly employees. But knowing when your salaried employees are working, where they’re putting those hours, and how that time affects your clients and your bottom line is just as important as tracking pay for hourly employees. It may take some time to get your salaried employees on the time tracking bandwagon, but once you do, you’ll find that the information gained is worth the trouble — for you, and for your salaried employees.Has tracking your employees’ time ever benefited your company in a way you didn’t expect? Let us know in the comments below!

TSheets makes it easy to track all employee time. Try it free for 14 days!

A little about Joseph Patterson

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