The mission of Franklin Township Public Schools in Somerset, New Jersey, is to embrace diversity, foster educational innovation, and empower all students to achieve their highest potential. The school district has more than 1,200 employees and educates 8,000 students at 10 schools, including seven elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school.
Processing paper timesheets for Franklin Township Public Schools' hourly employees and teachers working extra duty took two weeks, with one payroll clerk spending nearly 100% of her time processing hundreds of paper timesheets each pay period.
Employees were responsible for writing their job's account number and pay rate and their time on their timesheet. If they made a mistake and it was discovered before the pay period closed, the timesheet went back to the employee and supervisor for approval and then back to payroll, further slowing the process. Sometimes employees realized months later they had used an incorrect job account number and may not have been paid correctly.
On occasion, timesheets didn't reach the payroll department, and employees called payroll to ask why they hadn't been paid. When this occurred, the employee or supervisor may have forgotten to submit the timesheet, but payroll staff often received unwarranted blame.
Payroll staff also fielded numerous calls from employees asking if they had been paid for a duty or for the correct job, sometimes months after the pay period. Providing answers to these questions required the payroll clerk to dig through boxes of paper files to locate the timesheets to ensure employees weren't being paid double or at a rate different from that of their approved job. Despite this vigilance, overpayment was an issue, especially when 800 timesheets needed to be processed within a limited time and there was no easy way to track errors. Overtime also was frequently listed as "extra pay," and without accessing the timesheet, it was impossible for payroll staff to determine what this time was for.
COVID-19 exacerbated these issues. Prior to the pandemic, employees often walked their timesheets to their supervisor. When the pandemic hit and many employees were working remotely, they had to scan and email their timesheets.
About a year into the pandemic, Franklin Township Public Schools implemented the UKG Ready® solution to streamline the payroll process. The UKG® solution interfaces with the school district's Systems 3000 payroll solution.
Nearly all of the school district's 1,200-plus employees — short-term and long-term subs, custodians, security staff, secretarial and clerical administrative staff, and teachers working extra duty — track their time in UKG Ready using a PC or the mobile app. Mobile functionality with geofencing capability has been particularly beneficial to custodians and security staff, who have little access to a computer.
The district has a number of unions, including unions for teachers, support staff, and administrators. Employees have supported the simplified and automated payroll process that ensures more accurate paychecks.
“Processing paper timesheets used to be a two-week process. Now I usually do it in the same day within two or three hours.”
Assistant Business Administrator
When employees submit their timesheets in UKG Ready, their manager is notified that timesheets are ready for approval. The manager approves timesheets in the solution, creating an audit trail of information that can be easily accessed. Managers are encouraged to check their timesheet report during the pay cycle so they can contact employees who still need to submit their timesheets for approval, to ensure employees are paid on time.
"We have the ability right there at our fingertips, to go into the employee record, pull up that timesheet, and pull up the audit trail," said Luis Valencia, Assistant Business Administrator. "That's great because before it could be a day or two days, eating into your time from doing something else. We can do it in five minutes now."
No longer does the payroll clerk need to comb through stacks of paper timesheets to answer employee questions about whether their timesheet has been approved or whether they have been paid for a specific day or activity. "We love being able to say to employees, 'You can go in [to UKG Ready] and see for yourself,'" said Kelly Nesci, Payroll Supervisor.
Employees enjoy having access to their information. They can see in the solution whether their timesheet has been approved by their manager or whether they have forgotten to submit it. They also can view their pay history — including which job(s) they have performed, what their hours were, and what they were paid — as well as add notes in the solution.
The payroll clerk who used to spend almost all of her time processing paper timesheets has been freed up for other tasks, including assisting Nesci with other payroll-related work and responding to employee calls and emails.
Before the school district added the automated timekeeping solution, employees had to submit their timesheets at least two weeks prior to being paid. Now, employees can enter their time in UKG Ready just a day or two before payroll runs. In the solution, they type their job title in the search bar or choose a department and select their job and then enter their hours. The job code and pay rate for each job are configured into UKG Ready, ensuring that employees are paid appropriately when they select the correct job.
"Processing paper timesheets used to be a two-week process," said Valencia. "Now I usually do it in the same day within two or three hours."
When the Franklin Township Board of Education approves new jobs, typically 20 to 30 new jobs each month, Valencia said that entering these jobs into the solution takes him only one to two hours. If the board approves new jobs at a Thursday meeting, he can have the jobs entered into the solution the following day.
With overtime reports readily available in UKG Ready, school district managers and HR/payroll staff have greater visibility into employee overtime. Valencia said that previously they were unsure how much was being spent on overtime by each department, including for custodians, security, and curriculum development staff.
"Now that it's broken out by the specific jobs and account codes, for next year's budget they'll be able to budget a little bit better and maybe not budget so much in some areas," he added.
This will help the school district identify potential overtime issues, more accurately assess each department's overtime needs, and better control overtime expenditures by department and across the district.
Grant expenditures are reported for reimbursement. With workforce data now available at their fingertips, grant managers have better visibility into their grant budgets, helping them determine whether grant programs have been appropriately funded.
"They'll be able to drill down and say, 'Okay, this is what we actually spent in this fiscal year for this program for this grant,'" Valencia noted. "This should help grant managers when they're building their program budgets."
Access to workforce data also will assist the HR/payroll department in budgeting salaries for the next fiscal year. Having easy access to this data supports informed decisions.
Moving to UKG Ready has streamlined the timekeeping and payroll process at Franklin Township Public Schools and has delivered a better employee experience throughout the district.