As the world enters the second decade of the 21st century, say goodbye to the days of cranky employees waiting in a long queue to clock in at work. Gone are the days of time and energy spent simply counting employee hours to conform with labor regulations. The days of smart attendance tracking software are firmly upon us.
Smart attendance tracking software goes beyond a simple head-counting utility. It can reduce the time your payroll department spends to craft accurate and informative records of your employees’ work time. If you’re choosing a timeclock for your small business, you’ll want to know what exactly attendance tracking software is, the benefits of using it, and some of the top systems that may be right for your business.
What is attendance tracking software?
Every business, no matter the size, needs to track its employees’ attendance. Whatever system your company implements must comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act’s timekeeping requirements. The gold standard for this is attendance tracking software.
Attendance tracking software is a powerful tool for monitoring when your employees clock in and out of work while recording the data for your management team. Quality attendance tracking software provides more utility than a simple punch clock ever could: It can organize your employees’ attendance records, facilitate scheduling, provide recommendations for staffing issues, and track paid time off.
The best attendance tracking software is autonomous, requiring minimal attention from you or other company executives. It’s meant to empower your employees while maintaining transparency across your workforce. You’ll know exactly who is working and when, and your team members will be able to see how much they’ve worked and any sick time they’ve taken.
Tip: Evaluate your business’s timekeeping and staffing needs to determine which attendance tracking equipment is best for your team.
What are the benefits of attendance tracking software?
Not convinced attendance tracking software is worthwhile for your business? Here are seven unexpected benefits of time and attendance software.
1. Simplify payroll.
With old-school time-tracking methods, employees fill out timesheets or punchcards that they submit every two weeks. These records are then reviewed by a manager or two (at least) before being sent to the payroll department, which is hopefully able to decipher everyone’s handwriting in order to accurately enter the hours into a paperless payroll system for processing. This method is inefficient and prone to data-entry and calculation errors, resulting in employees not receiving the correct compensation. The frustration for the employees – not to mention the time managers waste on figuring out where the error was – makes for unnecessary headaches.
However, with time and attendance software, employees clock in and out digitally, and their hours are available for instant review by anyone authorized to access such information. What’s more, this software can easily integrate with the best HR software and highly rated online payroll services, making it a cinch to calculate employee wages, even when factoring in vacation and sick leave, overtime, holiday pay, and differentials.
2. Prevent tax and benefit problems.
In addition to ensuring the proper pay for employees, using time and attendance software in conjunction with a payroll system reduces potential errors in filing taxes. Since many employee benefits – such as vacation time and 401(k) eligibility – are tied to the number of hours an employee works, an automated system is critical to efficient HR management. [Related article: How to File Payroll Taxes]
3. Avoid lawsuits.
The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division recovered $230 million in back wages in the 2021 fiscal year, taking more than 24,700 compliance actions. The digital record of employees’ time in attendance tracking software serves as proof that you paid an employee for the hours they worked. Furthermore, in the event of a safety audit, you can prove you had the right number and combination of employees onsite at the appropriate times. This is particularly critical in hazardous industries like construction. [Follow these tips to keep your workplace safe.]
4. Reduce employee time theft.
According to Intuit QuickBooks, which offers time-tracking software, almost half of U.S. employees add unworked time to their timesheets. This is a type of timecard fraud, and it costs employers more than $11 billion in lost revenue and $22 billion in lost wages each year. Thanks to digital attendance tracking systems, there’s a solution to this expensive problem. [Learn about Intuit’s own time-tracking software in our QuickBooks Time review.]
Biometric authentication software that clocks employees in by fingerprint, facial recognition, or vein-pattern scanning allows you to verify when your employees were on the premises and how long they worked. Over time, you can identify team members with ongoing attendance problems, like arriving late or leaving early, and confront them with cold, hard facts rather than baseless accusations. As they say, the numbers don’t lie.
5. Go mobile.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, working from home has been increasingly common. A January 2022 study by Pew Research Center found that 59% of employed adults who can work from home are doing so, even as offices reopen. Fortunately, remote employees’ hours are easy to record when you have quality attendance tracking software. With more systems moving to the cloud, everyone involved in the payroll approval process – from team managers to senior executives – can review an employee’s work hours as well as relevant reports from any mobile device anywhere. [Related article: Can Employees Be More Productive Working From Home?]
These mobile services also make it easy for workers who frequently travel to track their time – and to update their expense reports without extra paperwork. Employee expense reimbursements are a lot simpler when you have detailed, instantly accessible records of their work time, wherever they are.
6. Increase workflow transparency.
Everyone hates the colleague who slacks on team projects while the rest of the team carries the extra burden. Employee attendance tracking software gives teams the opportunity to monitor themselves. They can view their current tasks, who completes them, and how long it takes to achieve results. This transparency enables your staff to balance teamwork with personal expectations.
Workflow transparency also provides a sense of camaraderie within your staff. When your team can visually track their contributions, it enables a sense of pride. That’s not a benefit you’d expect to get from a time-tracking system, but it’ll make your company a better place to work, especially when you make efforts to instill transparency in your business across the board.
7. Foster employee satisfaction.
While you might face initial grumbling from your employees about switching to a new system, their protests will quickly quiet when they learn how easy time and attendance software is to use. They’ll also be reassured by the more streamlined and automated system for calculating their compensation (with fewer human errors), and they’ll love their access to up-to-date information on how much leave or vacation time they have left to burn.
FYI: Flextime is proven to boost employee morale, and it’s even more worth offering when you and your workers can easily track it.
What are the top attendance tracking software options?
The top time and attendance software and services all offer the benefits we’ve highlighted, but the specific platform that best suits your company will depend on factors like your industry, size, and pain points. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a varied selection of great attendance tracking software for small businesses.
The best employee attendance software for automation is easily BambooHR. This platform has an easy-to-use employee dashboard that will encourage your staff to track their own schedules. Among the convenient features for business owners is automatic overtime calculation and reminders to process timesheets. Learn more in our full BambooHR review.
Is your business having trouble with employee productivity? Add Time Doctor into the mix. This attendance tracking software provides transparent activity metrics and sends alerts if team members are spending time too much time on unproductive sites or don’t return from their breaks on time. Time Doctor argues that this level of monitoring empowers employees rather than stifling them, because they can see exactly where their time is going (for better or worse). [Related article: 5 Tools for Tracking Your Remote Staff’s Productivity]
When I Work
When I Work is the go-to attendance tracking software for the retail and restaurant industries. This software allows your staff to bid and trade shifts to ensure a fully staffed schedule at all times. With break-management features and photo clock-in options, you and your team leaders can make sure all tracked hours are fair and accurate. Read our full review of When I Work to learn more.
Tip: If you run a retail store, complement your time-tracking software with employee scheduling tools for retail to ensure the most efficient staffing at all times.
Is your enterprise in the early stages of development but actively looking to the future? TimeClock Plus is the best attendance tracking software for scaling businesses. This flexible provider lets you choose precisely what your company needs – now and in the future – from its monthly and annual pricing structures, add-on packages, and various hardware options. Our TimeClock Plus review has more details on these features.
Chad Brooks contributed to the writing and research in this article.