Have you Submitted your Time Sheet yet?

How can you, as an employee, expect to be paid when the agency isn’t being paid?

That’s what that value of Time Sheets boils down to, in my opinion. Time is money, plain and simple. This is especially true in the advertising world. If employees aren’t recording their time on a daily basis, how do you know precisely what to bill your clients?

As Second Wind President, Tony Mikes, states in his article, “It’s a Business of One Hour at a Time” (6/17/14), “Few agencies are strongly committed to the time billing process. They don’t really demand that their employees do time sheets on a daily basis, and they don’t fight hard to bill for every hour incurred.”

So, let’s say you decide that employees are going to record their time daily. How do you get them to actually DO so? Over the years, I’ve spoken with many agencies about their time-keeping practices. Here are a few of my favorite compliance methods:

1. An automatic lock out feature. CurrentTrack®, for example, contains a feature that enables you to set a time by which all sheets must be complete (e.g. “8 a.m. the following morning”). At one minute past, if the employee hasn’t entered time for the previous day, s(he) receives a pop-up warning box and is redirected to the Time & Expenses folder. S(he) can’t move anywhere else in the system until the Sheet has been completed.

2. “The wall of shame.” Each morning, the Traffic Manager (or bookkeeper) prints out a list of all employees who haven’t yet completed their sheets from the previous day. The list is posted on the wall, in the most high-traffic area of the agency, for everyone to see.

3. An end-of-the-month party. If all required employees complete their sheets, on a daily basis throughout the given month, a pizza lunch is held on the first work day of the following month. JWT and Casa go so far as to offer free beer (and soda), at the end of the week, if all employee time sheets are completed. Check it out: https://youtu.be/WDbiyWlKhlM

4. Gift card(s). The names of all employees who’ve completed their daily sheets, for the entire month, are entered in a drawing. On the first day of the following month, one lucky recipient (or more) receives a $50 gift card. Spending $50 a month for a gift card is a small price to pay for capturing additional billable hours!

5. Payday delay. Quite simply, if you don’t complete your time sheets during the given pay period, your paycheck is held for an equal number of late days — “three days behind, paid three days later than everyone else.” One Florida engineering firm has a policy that, if any single time sheet is missing, the payroll processing day for the entire firm is floated until the final time sheet has been turned in.

6. A bonus account. On Jan. 1st, every employee begins the year with $1,000 in a special bonus account that’s payable on the last paycheck of the given year. Throughout the year, each week that an employee’s time sheet is missing beyond a specific cut-off time, $100 is deducted from his/her bonus account. At the end of the year, the amount remaining (if any) is added to the employee’s paycheck.

What methods does your agency use to ensure time sheet compliance? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


A former traffic manager at Current360 and Doe-Anderson, Dawn Travelstead has a B.S. in Advertising and an M.S. in Mass Communication from Murray State University. Dawn’s obsession with detail and her love of a challenge drive her interest in understanding and improving agency operations.

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