Time and Attendance

What is a Timesheet Calculator & How Does it Work?8 min read

By April 8, 2020 April 23rd, 2020 No Comments

A timesheet records the amount of hours an employee has spent working on a job, either for his or her employere, or for a client.

In years gone by companies would record the hours on paper. We then moved on to Excel spreadsheets. But today in the digital age, the fastest and easiest way to calculate hours is with an automated timesheet calculator.

How time used to be calculated before the digital age

How time used to be calculated before the digital age.

What is a timesheet calculator?

A timesheet calculator is software that automates the calculation of the work hours of an employee. 

It simplifies the whole timesheet keeping process by keeping track of hours worked and lunch breaks, and then calculating the whole lot instead of you needing to.

What are the benefits of timesheet calculators?

  • They allow for error-free calculations which is important for Payroll. 
  • They simplify the time worked tracking process.
  • They increase productivity because management no longer needs to manually calculate hours.
  • Allows for accurately measuring and reviewing employee performance.
  • Many tools provide the ability to forecast costs and trends.

What are your timesheet calculator options?

Let’s take a look at all the timesheet calculator options available:

#1: Paper and calculator

Paper and Calculator

The good old Excel spreadsheet is still the most popular of all the timesheet calculator tools, but that is probably because many companies are not aware of the new technologies that excel the Excel spreadsheet.

The 2018 Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function report, showed that the number of people using Excel spreadsheets are declining, even within small businesses.

However, many companies still opt for this option due to its low cost, and because there are daily and weekly timesheet templates or monthly timesheet templates available to make the setup easier.

Bonus! This free Excel spreadsheet template is designed for companies that need to keep track of hours across multiple locations. 

Tip #1! Create a timesheet in Excel or Word, or even Google Docs and send to staff to add their hours and return to management.

Tip #2: If you’re going to use an Excel spreadsheet, we recommend hiring an Excel pro to create formulas to automate totals and make the process easier.

Tip #3: Be aware of the downside of getting employees to capture their own hours. It is usually unreliable and can cost the company a lot of money for time recorded that is actually not spent working.

#2: Excel spreadsheet

Excel spreadsheet


The good old Excel spreadsheet is still the most popular of all the timesheet calculator tools, but that is probably because many companies are not aware of the new technologies that excel the Excel spreadsheet.

The 2018 Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function report, showed that the number of people using Excel spreadsheets are declining, even within small businesses.

However, many companies still opt for this option due to its low cost, and because there are daily and weekly timesheet templates or monthly timesheet templates available to make the setup easier.

Bonus! This free Excel spreadsheet template is designed for companies that need to keep track of hours across multiple locations. 

Tip #1! Create a timesheet in Excel or Word, or even Google Docs and send to staff to add their hours and return to management.

Tip #2: If you’re going to use an Excel spreadsheet, we recommend hiring an Excel pro to create formulas to automate totals and make the process easier.

Tip #3: Be aware of the downside of getting employees to capture their own hours. It is usually unreliable and can cost the company a lot of money for time recorded that is actually not spent working.

#3: Online time card calculators

Online time card calculators

There are free, simple online timesheet calculators available which are suitable for small businesses or solopreneurs – find reviews of 15 of the best tools here.

Online timesheet calculators are simple to use and depending on the business, may be better than the old paper or Excel spreadsheet method. They are an accurate, streamlined way to keep track of employee work hours.

Much like with an Excel spreadsheet, each employee enters the hours they’ve worked, and the system calculates the totals. The difference between an Excel spreadsheet and online timesheet calculators is that no human calculates the totals; it is done by the tool.  

Tip #1! Online timesheet calculators usually offer additional features that you would not get using an Excel spreadsheet, and they calculate employee time so that you don’t need to.

Tip #2! To create a more reliable clocking system that is low cost, simply use a free online timesheet calculator (choose one which allows for more than one person’s hours). Add the names of each employee to the tool and then leave the app open on a tablet near the entrance/exit so they can add their hours as they arrive and leave. Or find a free application that can be used on employee’s mobile phones.

#4: Workforce management software

Workforce management software is the ultimate tool to manage all employee processes. It works as one central hub across all relevant departments. For example, timesheets are calculated automatically, and Payroll accesses the system to retrieve the costs for processing.

While each system will differ in features, EasyRoster caters specifically for cleaning, facilities management, labour broking and security businesses who sell man hours. It has the ability to function as follows:

  1. A biometric clocking in and clocking out apparatus is placed at multiple locations where employees are situated.
  2. Employee hours are automatically entered from the biometric device into the system, and the system calculates all the totals, including lunch breaks.
  3. The system keeps all employee information and it’s quick to schedule staff per location. The software keeps tabs on overtime, leave requests, days off and so on.

The immediate benefits of workforce management tools are obvious: accuracy, no buddy punching, no paying for hours that are not actually worked, streamlined processes and increased productivity.

Here are 3 brilliant workforce scheduling optimisation tips.

excel-timesheet-template-free-download
Daniel Brits

Daniel Brits

I am the Business Development Manager of a division within Adapt IT that focuses on providing companies who use or require Workforce Management Software to assist them in running their operations as efficiently as possible. I have worked with clients in over 15 countries and have provided training sessions to groups of people for the past 10 years.