best practices and tips for on-time time sheet completion

Modified on Wed, 10 May 2023 at 11:37 AM

Best Practices and Tips for On-Time Time Sheet Completion

Inaccurate time tracking costs AmeriCorps programs money, and chasing after late time sheets costs program leaders and/or supervisors time. However, it is also easy to understand why members either forget or choose not to track their service. While we can’t make your members love service tracking, we can offer these 5 tips to motivate and incentivize them.

  1. Communicate the purpose of service tracking

    Members will only be motivated to track their service if they understand the purpose and benefits of doing so. Your program may use service tracking to report progress more accurately, measure impact, identify areas for improvement, measure program outcomes, and, of course, prove they've earned their stipends and education awards. Whatever the reasons, communicate them to your team and show members how accurate and on-time time tracking benefits everyone.

  2. Set clear policies and guidelines

    Be clear from the get-go about members’ obligation to submit their time sheets on time, and the consequences if they do not. For example, Will they be expected to submit hours on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? How many reminders or “strikes” will a repeat offender get before the issue is escalated to a program leader and/or supervisor? Service tracking should be viewed as a condition of the successful completion of their service term, and you may want to distribute a written agreement or include the policy in program agreements. This can be a touchy subject, but as long as your organization is following the applicable regulations on member monitoring, you have every right to stand your ground. Clear guidelines will also make problems with enforcement easier to resolve later on.

  3. Let your members learn how to use the time sheets

    Do not place the onus on busy members to figure out how to complete time sheets independently; meet them halfway. Organize a training session in person, or distribute a guide or video tutorial via email. Even with easy-to-use tools like America Learns Impact Suite, a basic overview means one less barrier to adoption. Skipping this step will lead to frustration, wasted time, and empty time sheets later on.

  4. Send reminders

    Life gets busy, and we can all use a friendly reminder every once in a while. With America Learns Impact Suite, you can program automated reminder emails and/or texts after the last day of any time sheet period. Emails and texts will only be sent to members who have yet to submit their time sheets for the given period. You can also use the Members Who Need to Submit Sheets report to blast out manual emails or text reminders. However you go about it, this is a simple but effective step in keeping your team accountable.

  5. Follow up

    Hopefully you have completed step one and clearly communicated your service tracking objectives to members, but don’t forget to follow up and update them on progress made toward these goals. Depending on the size of the organization, send updates via email or give them in person. Consider including any enlightening reports, valuable insights, or new initiatives stemming from your service tracking data. Also, take the opportunity to ask for feedback, and thank the team for their efforts. A simple “thank you” can go a long way, and these periodic updates will remind members that all that service tracking data is actually worth something. Remember that service tracking is not just about accountability but also about creating a culture of continuous improvement and making a positive impact.

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