Timekeeping by Email

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about time cards by mail:

My supervisor has decided in order to make things easier for him, he is now requiring we email him when we get in in the morning, email him for lunch out, lunch in and when leaving for the day. He will then use the time stamp from the email to complete our timecards for us. Is this something that is industry standard?

Signed, Busy writing!

Dear Busy writing!:

Sending emails to keep track of time is not a standard practice, although I know of many places that do it that way. But, there really is no standard method. Not every place uses a time clock either.I work with one company where everyone has to report directly to a supervisor upon arriving and when leaving. It was not a supervisory decision–just as the one at your work is probably not solely the decision of the supervisor.In the case of the business I’m referring to, it’s a real hassle for the supervisor, who must be in his office steadily, and comes early to ensure he is there for the first employee. But, it was the only way to ensure honesty, since some employees were clocking out for others, and taking turns arriving late or going home early! All the asking, pleading, urging and threatening, and even firing some employees, didn’t help. So, they started this current method.

The email method is apparently the method your boss thinks will make it easier for him to keep track and be sure of accuracy. It may be motivated by time for him, but most likely it is motivated by the fact that someone wasn’t using other methods correctly. Like many things, the concept isn’t really all that bad when you think about it. You are being paid and you likely use email several times a day anyway. But, it FEELS unpleasant because it feels restrictive and distrustful. And, if the supervisor is not a favorite, any action would probably not go over well.Perhaps,if you have another method in mind that would be less time consuming and that you know every employee would abide by, you can suggest it before long.In the meantime, give this method some time and you may find it isn’t so bad. You don’t need a message, or even a subject line, unless he requires it. Just put his name in the address area and hit send. That will show you are there and be no more time consuming than a time clock.

Even if he wants more than that, it isn’t too difficult to do and is not terribly unreasonable. The worst part is just getting used to it and accepting it as one of the tasks you do at work. As you know, everything changes sooner or later, so maybe this will change sooner! In the big scheme of things, there are many work requirements that are worse. I hope you will lead the way in just doing it and keeping a positive approach about work and life in general.Best wishes!

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.