Unhappy about Time

Question submitted to Ask the Workplace Doctors about reporting time:

Is it legal for my office coordinator to ask me to fill out a timesheet every two weeks on a spreadsheet, when I’m already doing my time sheet online through Human Resource. And she doesn’t want it as a pdf which cannot be changed. I’ve been working at my company for over twenty years and have never had to fill out two time cards. I work for a very large mutual insurance company and I looked up this new office coordinator’s background and she is supposed to be some sort of stress relief or motivator of sorts. Every Friday, we have to come up with a game to play at 4:30 which is a pain in the you know what when a bunch of people are trying to complete their work. So why is she asking us to give her a two week timesheet? I don’t know of any company that fills out two time sheets. To top that, she’s an email spammer! Could it be that she is just looking for something to do? I don’t get it. Signed Time for a Change

Dear Time for a Change: Thank you for sharing your dismay over the recent order to do a second time sheet and about the requirement to play a game every Friday. These two new mandates appear to you unnecessary and a waste of time. You don’t say how you have reacted to being told to do them. Twenty years should have earned the right for you to register your displeasure. Our advice does not promise a quick fix, but should help you to reflect on what to do. 

  1. The requirement to submit a second time sheet doesn’t fit the description of an illegal order. Danica Rice, an Human Resource Manager, who is one of our consultants, in response to your question, said: “This inquiry was a little confusing but after reading it a second time I think I understand. While I do not see anything illegal about filling out a second time sheet, I do not understand the purpose or need for it going to the office coordinator if that is not company procedure. Time sheets are outdated, most companies have phased this out with the use of systems that can track time. It may be time for this company to do the same especially if someone potentially is doing something unethical with employees information. Without knowing the administrator’s description I can’t say if she is performing out of school but I don’t see the point in this person needing that information in a separate format than the company requires from others. Does this company have Human Resources? Has the person with complaint spoken with HR about this?” Danica’s response to reading your question, raises the question of your insurance company’s policy and if you have made time to inquire. It also implies that dong so probably informally of your immediate supervisor and/or in a formal way about what’s officially required. Human Resources should be willing to hear your complaint about that  and also address your feelings about the new coordinator’s so called stress easing effort.                                    
  2. What’s going on is a question begged by your description of the efforts of the new coordinator. Does she/he have regular staff meetings? If sp, who makes its agenda and what is its procedure? Have you considered raising your concerns within such meetings or if not to this new coordinator? In short your question suggests it is time, probably past time to talk about talk or absence of talk about what’s going on. If you have scanned several of my responses to questions, both recent and many in our archive, I’ve recommended that staff meetings should be conducted like sport teams’ skull sessions–in which all participate in describing how the team has been playing and what they might do to improve. Is this not something you and your workgroup should consider? 
  3. Another option, possibly the best one for you just now. A long-time H.R. manager, Mark Mindell, suggests:  “My primary suggestion would be that you just fill out the spreadsheet as long as you are on Company time.  This is particularly true if you report directly or indirectly to the office coordinator.  After all, what do you have to gain by either questioning or arguing about doing so?  It appears you think there is some nefarious purpose when you state that she requires that timesheet cannot be a pdf — I assume because you think she wants to be able to change it?  Regardless of reason, though, why fight it.  And if you are concerned that you could somehow be held responsible if there are any mismatches, make sure you keep a copy of the sheet you complete every two weeks. Bottom line:  there are some companies that do require this for reliability checks but I suggest you just follow your office coordinator’s instructions.”

Do any of these options make sense to you? They should help you gain perspective and make an informed decision. Will you let us know what you elect to do? Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. –William Gorden