Have you ever wondered how we got the term “time card?” Today, we often talk about “clocking in” at work or paying employees by calculating the hours logged on their “time sheet” or “time card.” But have you ever wondered how we got these phrases in the first place and why they’re still in use today?
Time cards were first introduced as a method of tracking employee attendance in the 1800s. Employees inserted pieces of cardboard into a mechanical time clock which stamped the card when their shift began and when they “clocked out” for the day. This early method of time tracking was great for employers and workers alike because it offered irrefutable clarity about the hours an employee worked.
Today, technology has evolved beyond the use of archaic devices like cardboard and mechanical clocks to digitize and streamline time card approval processes.
In this article, we’ll explore time card approval, how it works, and how automated methods can save your business time and money.
What Is Time Card Approval?
We know what time cards looked like in the olden days, but how do we utilize them today? And what does the time card approval process look like in a modern organization?
Time card approval is an important part of ensuring accurate and timely employee payments, and it helps to ensure compliance with labor laws and company policies.
Put simply, it is the process by which a supervisor reviews and approves the work hours recorded by an employee on their time card. Typically, employees submit their time cards on a regular basis; this could be weekly or biweekly, depending on your company’s policy. A supervisor is then responsible for reviewing the time card to ensure it is accurate and in compliance with company policies and labor laws.
During the time card approval process, the supervisor may review other information like the employee’s work schedule, breaks, paid time off, and any overtime or other special pay categories. This helps the supervisor to confirm that the hours recorded on the employee’s time card are accurate.
Once the supervisor has reviewed the time card, they will either approve or reject it. If you do have to reject a time card, it’s important to connect with the employee to discuss the reason why. For example, if there are any discrepancies or concerns, you can talk through this with the employee and help them correct the errors before approving the time card.
The Time Card Approval Process
Now that we know what time card approval is and why it’s important, let’s take a closer look at the ins and outs of the approval process. Whether you process your time cards manually or use automated time card software, time card approval is a multi-faceted process with many different steps you need to get right.
This process can also vary depending on your business, the type of industry you work in, and the specific procedures you have in place. But, as a general rule, every approval process should include a few standard steps, no matter what type of business you run.
Let’s take a look at a standard checklist for time card approval.
1. Employee records time worked
It’s no surprise that recording your hours is crucial to the time card process. After all, you can’t pay employees for their time if they don’t log their hours. So whether the employee records their work hours electronically or on paper, this first step is essential.
2. Employee submits time card
Once the employee has logged their hours for the pay period, they’ll need to submit their time card to their supervisor for approval. The real work begins when the time card has been submitted, so pay attention during the next steps.
3. Supervisor reviews time card
When an employee submits their time card, it’s up to their supervisor to review it and either approve or reject it. There are a few things you want to keep an eye out for when reviewing an employee’s time card. For starters, is the time card accurate? Does it correctly reflect the hours they worked? Is it in compliance with your company’s policies and labor laws? All of these are important considerations when reviewing an employee’s time card.
4. Time card is approved
After you’ve carefully reviewed an employee’s time card and assessed it for accuracy and compliance, it’s time to make a decision. If the information provided on the time card is correct, you can approve the time card and begin the payroll process. But if you notice any issues or discrepancies, you may need to reject the time card. If rejection is necessary, you should work with the employee. Talk through the issues together, identify the time card’s core problems, and give the employee a chance to correct any errors before re-submitting their time card for approval.
Time card approval might be the last phase of the process but it takes a lot of detail-oriented steps to get there. It can be easy to get bogged down in the details but, as you’re working through all those steps, don’t lose sight of how important your work is and how much it matters to your employees.
It’s no secret that employees are the backbone of every business. But prompt and accurate payroll is crucial for ensuring that your employees continue showing up to work. If your approval process is slow and fraught with errors and arguments, it won’t take long for your employees to get frustrated.
So, make sure you take time to communicate your time card approval criteria to your employees. Do they know how to submit their time cards? Are they required to submit any additional information? When do they have to turn in their cards for approval? Are they aware of the deadline? These might seem like little details but communication is key for ensuring that everyone is on the same page and your employees have what they need to succeed.
Time Card Approval Methods
We’ve already seen that the time card approval process has several different steps and that attention to detail is important. We can also see how communication and prompt approval is vital for employee satisfaction. But how do you put this into practice? What’s the best method for approving time cards? In this section, we’ll take a close look at the answers to these questions.
There are lots of different methods you can use for time card approval. The right method for you may vary depending on your company and the type of industry you work in, so one size doesn’t quite fit all. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the many resources available to you and the factors to consider when making your choice.
If you want to feel old-school — like the factory owners who first created time cards — manual time card approval is the closest you can get! This manual approach is a no-frills, analog method of logging your employees’ hours. When you use this method, the employee fills out a paper time card such as a time card template, which is then reviewed and approved by the supervisor. The supervisor uses a pen or stamp to approve the time card and the approved time card is then sent to the payroll department for processing.
Electronic time card approval is a little more modern and convenient. This option removes some of the physical hassles of manual approval by expediting the process electronically. With this method, the employee enters their work hours into an electronic time card system, which is then submitted to the supervisor for review and approval. The supervisor can access the time card online, review it for accuracy, and then approve or reject it.
Mobile time card approval takes the approval process to a whole new level of convenience. This method is similar to electronic approval, but it’s better, smoother, and more convenient because the employee can log their work hours via a time card app. These apps are designed to be accessible for workers and management alike, so you can easily use your own app to review the time card and approve or reject it right from your own mobile device.
Last but not least, automated time card approval streamlines the entire process by taking out the middleman. If you’re looking to decrease your admin time, this is the way to go. When you use automated time card approval, the time card system automatically reviews the time card for accuracy and compliance with your company policies and the relevant labor laws. If there are no issues, the time card is automatically approved and sent to the payroll department for processing. If there are errors or discrepancies, the system may alert the supervisor or manager for further review and approval.
As you can see from this list, there are several different ways to process and approve time cards. The method that works best for you will vary depending on the type of business you run, your budget, and your payroll needs. Your time card approval method may also depend on the technological proficiency of your team. For example, if you’re a small, family-run business with several older employees, a low-tech solution like manual time card approval is likely to work best for you.
By contrast, if you’re a new startup staffed by recent grads, your employees are more likely to appreciate a simple and convenient method like mobile or automated time card approval. So, don’t forget to evaluate the needs of your employees, the type of tech you’re comfortable with, and the processing style that best aligns with your business when choosing a time card approval method.
Time Card Approval Best Practices
We know why time card approval is important and we know that there are many different methods for approving your employees’ time cards. But are there any other tips to streamline your time card approval process?
Whether you’re new to the time card approval game or you want to give your process an update, there are a few simple best practices that can help ensure accurate and timely payment of employees.
Establish clear policies
Clear communication is essential to sure that your team is on the same page. So, take time to establish clear policies for time card submission, review, and approval. Make sure that your employees are familiar with these policies and that they can access and review them on a regular and convenient basis. It may also be helpful to hold training sessions on company policy from time to time and pay extra close attention to payroll and time cards.
Use a reliable time card system
No matter what type of time card approval system you use, it has to be reliable. Accessibility is key for any reliable system, so make sure you choose an approval method that’s user-friendly and convenient for employees and managers alike. Consider using an electronic or mobile time card system that can automate some of the approval processes and reduce the risk of errors.
Train managers on time card approval
This is probably a no-brainer, but since your supervisors are in charge of approvals and reviews, it’s important to train them on your chosen approval process. If you use an electronic or automated time card approval platform, do they know how to use it? Can they troubleshoot common errors that arise? Make sure your managers have adequate training to comfortably and efficiently approve time cards.
Regularly review and audit time cards
Audits can be a pain but they’re helpful! So, take time to review and audit time cards on a regular basis to ensure accuracy and compliance with company policies and labor laws. Regular audits can show you what is and isn’t working in your payroll and time card processes. They can also help you identify and correct any errors or discrepancies before they become a larger problem.
Keep records of time card approvals
This should probably go without saying, but keep accurate records of the time cards you approve and reject. If you ever need to go back and review information, accurate records of time card approvals and any changes or corrections made can be helpful in the event of an audit or legal dispute.
Track overtime hours
Tracking overtime hours is a crucial aspect of keeping accurate and detailed time card records. You want to make sure that you’re paying your employees fairly, that your time cards are accurate, and that all overtime is approved in accordance with company policies and labor laws. This can help avoid potential legal issues and ensure that employees are paid accurately.
Follow up with employees
Whether you’re touching base about time cards or any other questions, regularly following up with employees is a great way to make sure everyone’s on the same page. Do your employees have any questions about your policies? Are there any discrepancies or errors on their time cards? Communication can help you answer these questions and work with them to ensure that future time cards are accurate.
Reasons to Automate Time Card Approval
Because there are so many highly detailed steps involved in the time card approval process, it can be difficult to stay on top of everything. Even the most detail-oriented person in the world may struggle to balance their time card admin duties with the other aspects of running a business. So, if you’re relying on manual time approval — or even an electronic system that’s super heavy on the admin — you may be losing valuable time to the drain of time card admin.
That’s why it’s a great idea to automate time card approval. Switching to automated methods can provide some awesome practical benefits for your business. So, let’s take a look at some reasons to automate your approval process.
- Efficiency: Automated systems can process time card approvals much faster than manual methods, reducing the time and effort required by managers or HR personnel. This efficiency leads to quicker turnaround times and fewer delays in payroll processing.
- Accuracy: When you automate your time card approval process, you can increase accuracy and reduce errors. Automated systems minimize human errors and ensure accurate calculations of work hours, overtime, and other factors that influence pay discrepancies and conflict between management and employees.
- Compliance: Automated time card systems can also be configured to enforce company policies, labor laws, and industry regulations consistently. This helps ensure that employees’ work hours and related benefits are properly accounted for, reducing the risk of non-compliance and potential legal issues.
- Transparency: With an automated system, both employees and managers have real-time access to time card information. This transparency promotes accountability and allows for easier tracking of attendance, leave, and other work-related activities.
- Cost reduction: By streamlining the approval process, automation reduces administrative costs associated with time card management. It saves you money by freeing up managers’ time to focus on other aspects of the business instead of losing time to the manual review and approval of time cards.
- Integration and reporting: Automated systems like Workyard can integrate with accounting and payroll software, creating a seamless flow of information. This allows you to see all your payroll data at a glance, save time on payroll admin, and pay employees in an instant.
Try Workyard’s Time Card Approval App
Although there are a wide variety of options for automating time card approval, Workyard has got to be one of the best — especially if you work in the field services industry! Field service businesses often have different time tracking and payroll needs from other companies and Workyard was designed to support those needs.
For example, Workyard’s GPS-tracking feature uses geofencing to automatically clock employees in and out when they report to the job site. This data automatically syncs to the Workyard app, providing a quick and error-free record of your employees’ attendance.
By blending GPS time-tracking data with payroll, Workyard saves you time and money on all the admin associated with employee attendance, hourly reporting, and time card approval. And because Workyard automates approval for you, you can say goodbye to the hassle of creating and cross-referencing lots of different spreadsheets.
Instead, Workyard seamlessly streamlines your data in one convenient hub that you and your employees access. When employees have the Workyard app installed on their phones, their hours are auto-reported and they can easily access their hourly logs, pay stubs, and tax information on the go. Workyard’s automated time card approval feature integrates with accounting and payroll platforms like QuickBooks, allowing you to access all your payroll information at a glance while minimizing admin time and discrepancies.
Time card approval can be a hassle — especially if you do it manually — but Workyard can make it a breeze. Sign up for a free trial today.