Look out your window: if there's a line of cranky employees outside waiting to punch a time clock before starting their shift it might be time to invest in attendance tracking software.
Using a time clock is the equivalent of asking your employees to yell "here" every morning as you dutifully check off their name in an attendance notebook similar to the one your second grade teacher used.
Employee tracking software has applications well beyond just marking when employees show up for work and when they leave each day -- it can dramatically reduce the amount of time you need to spend on payroll as well as provide up-to-date, accurate and easy-to-manage records of all of your employees' time.
If you're still not convinced you need to ship that old time clock back to the crustaceous period from whence it came, here are 7 more unexpected benefits of time and attendance software. 1. Simplify payroll: With older systems, every two weeks employees fill out time sheets or submit punchcards that are then reviewed by a manager or two (or more) and then sent to the payroll department, which is hopefully able to decipher everyone's handwriting in order to enter the hours into a payroll system for processing. This method is both inefficient and prone to data-entry and calculation errors that result in employees not receiving the correct compensation. The frustration for the employees -- not to mention the time wasted from managers having to track back where the error was made -- makes for unnecessary headaches. With time and attendance software, employees clock in and out digitally and their hours are available for review instantaneously by anyone who's authorized. What's more, such software can easily be integrated into payroll and HR systems, making it a cinch to calculate employee wages -- factoring in things like vacation and sick leave, overtime, holiday pay and differentials.
2. Prevent tax and benefit problems: In addition to ensuring employees are being paid properly, using time and attendance software in conjunction with a payroll system also reduces potential errors in filing taxes. And since many employee benefits -- vacation and added time off as well as 401K eligibility, for instance -- are tied into the number of hours an employee works, an automated system is critical to more efficient HR management.
3. Prevent lawsuits: According to a 2012 USA Today article, the number of workers who filed suit against their employers under federal and state wage-and-hour laws increased 32 percent between 2008 and 2011 as a result of the recession. And the Department of Labor recovered $225 million in back wages for employers, a 28 percent increase from 2011. The digital record of employees time offered by software allows you to prove you paid an employee for the hours he or she worked. In addition, in the event of a safety audit, you will be better able to prove you had the right number and combination of employees on-site at the appropriate times, according to an article on WorkForce.com.
4. Reduce employee time theft: According to a 2009 study by Harris Interactive Inc.:
- 21 percent of hourly employees said they stole company time
- 5 percent said they participated in buddy punching
- 69 percent said they punch in and out earlier or later than scheduled
- 22 percent said they added time to their time sheet
- 14 percent said they didn't punch out for unpaid breaks
Biometric software that "punches" employees in via facial recognition, vein-pattern scanning or fingerprint allows companies to verify when employees were on the premises and how long they worked. Over time, employers can identify ongoing problems of workers arriving late or leaving early and can confront them with cold, hard facts rather than baseless accusations. As they say, the numbers don't lie.
5. Go mobile: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24 percent of Americans report they work at least some hours from home each week. And 63 percent of employers allow employees to work from home occasionally, according to a study by the Society for Human Resources Management and the Families & Work Institute. With more systems moving to the cloud, everyone involved in the payroll approval process -- from managers to senior executives -- have the ability to review an employees work history as well as relevant reports from any mobile device anywhere -- home, office or the local coffee shop. What's more, it allows workers who travel frequently to track their time easily, as well as update expense reports without extra paperwork.
6. Reduce paper usage: For businesses looking for easy green initiatives or that want to save valuable office space, time and attendance software can help. Instead of mountains of time sheets, punchcards and expense reports that need to be saved in giant filing cabinets, all of the information related to time and payroll can be stored in a cloud-based database, easily accessible via computer or wireless device.
7. Increase employee satisfaction: While you might face initial grumbling from your employees about switching to a new system, their protests will quickly be quieted 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 the access they can get to review up-to-date information on how much leave or vacation time they've used and how much they still have left to burn.
Photo courtesy of Matti Mattila on Flickr