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The Best Time and Attendance Services and Software 2021

Laura Handrick
, Contributing Writer
| Updated
Feb 05, 2021

Looking for the best time and attendance software? We have easy-to-read, expert unbiased reviews and feature comparisons of the best and most affordable programs.
Best Software Overall
Setup takes a few minutes
Includes scheduling software
Tracks PTO
Best for Restaurants and Retail
When I Work
Mobile app reduces time theft
Many payroll integration options
Shift-scheduling incuded
Best for On-Site Locations
Includes advanced features
Extensive manager controls
No ongoing service fees
Best for Remote and Office Workers
Client and project billing
Free Forever plan
Integrations with payroll software
Featured Sponsor
Multiple clock in and out options
Geolocation restrictions
Payroll integration
Looking for the best time and attendance software? We have easy-to-read, expert unbiased reviews and feature comparisons of the best and most affordable programs.

Keeping track of how long your employees work each day is crucial to ensuring you pay them accurately while complying with federal, state and local labor laws. The best time and attendance systems are easy to use, affordable, and integrate with key programs, like payroll software, that you already use. To find the best systems for small businesses, we examined more than 120 companies, scrutinizing price, ease of use, integration options and customer service.

Find the Right Time and Attendance System for Your Business

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How We Decided
Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.

Compare Our Best Picks

  OnTheClock WhenIWork TimeClick Clockify TSheets
Price Starts at $3 per month, per employee Starts at $2 per month, per employee $199 (one computer) - $1,499 (unlimited devices); annual support subscription fee separate $0 (unlimited users) - $9.99 per month, per employee

Starts at $8 per month, per employee + $20 per month base fee

Free trial 30-day free trial 14-day free trial 30-day free trial Free plan 14-day free trial
Scheduling Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Works on Web, mobile (Android/Apple), computer app, tablet Web, mobile Computer, SQL Web, phone, mobile app Web, mobile, tablet, kiosk
Ease of use Easy Moderate Easy Easy Moderate
Extras Intuitive interface, PTO requests and approvals, shift scheduling Applicant tracking, team communication, ability to trade shifts Mass updates, employee messages, audit tracking, employee self-service Projects, reports, API, multiple apps and integrations Team management, appointment notes, payroll and accounting integrations, job costing 

Our Reviews Best Time and Attendance Software Overall

OntheClock's app is easy to use and set up.
OntheClock has no contract requirements, and it offers a 30-day free trial.
There is no phone support available on the weekends. is the best overall time and attendance software for small businesses needing to keep track of employees. It offers secure electronic timecards. OnTheClock works on a tablet, PC, or smartphone, eliminating the need to purchase a separate timeclock. The app is easy to set up and use. Plus, it offers high-end features like GPS breadcrumbs, payroll integration, and PTO tracking.


OnTheClock costs between $2.85 and $3.00 per month, per employee. All of the features are included in each tier, so companies with a smaller number of employees have the same features as enterprises with hundreds of employees. Volume discounts are available if you employ more than 400 workers.

OnTheClock gives you a free 30-day trial and doesn't require a contract. It has no add-on costs, implementation charges, or support fees. Everything is included in the monthly per-user rate.


OnTheClock provides time and attendance tracking with a timeclock kiosk, web browser, or module timeclock app employees can use to clock in and out. All plans include unlimited departments and jobs, an unlimited number of manager and administrator roles, and you can have an unlimited number of time entries per day.

OnTheClock features include:

  • Time tracking for hourly and salaried employees
  • Manager tools to leave employee notes or adjust clock-in and -out times
  • GPS locations so you can see where employees clock in and out
  • Geofencing to prevent workers from clocking in before they get to the job site
  • Employee self-service to view schedules, check PTO balances, and request time off
  • Survey tools to gather employee feedback before and after work
  • Administrative controls for customization and rounding rules, automated meal and break times, and holidays
  • Common pay periods: weekly, biweekly, semimonthly and monthly
  • Reports for tips, overtime, payroll, and job costing (to estimate project and client work)

Pros of OnTheClock

OnTheClock is affordable, it reduces time theft with fingerprint clock-ins, and it lets you see who is working in real time. Your free trial takes only minutes to set up and add employees. You can build schedules, automate breaks, and send employee alerts and reminders. 

Timecards are calculated automatically, showing regular and overtime hours for all states, including California, as well as paid time off. You can export timesheets to your payroll system using CSV or Excel. 

If you use one of the integrated payroll systems like ADP, Gusto, or Paychex, or need to export data for invoicing billable hours, you'll find those interfaces as well.

Cons of OnTheClock

OnTheClock doesn't provide phone support on the weekends. In addition, this time and attendance solution is highly customizable – you'll want to ensure your rules are set up correctly for rounding, holidays, security, geofencing, and clock-in restrictions.

Customer Support

OnTheClock's customer support includes email, chat, and phone support from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET). On the weekend, a chatbot responds to general inquiries.


When I Work: Best Time and Attendance System for Restaurants and Retail Shops

When I Work includes employee scheduling tools.
Any device connected to the internet can be used to clock in and out.
Tech support is not available over the phone on the weekends.

When I Work is our pick as the best time and attendance solution for restaurants, cafes, and retail stores that manage employees doing shift work. It includes employee scheduling software and tracks the time the employee worked against his or her schedule. You can also set it up with rules that allow your employees to swap shifts, saving you time.


When I Work has a Time Clock and Attendance plan for small businesses that costs $4 per employee, per month using a mobile timeclock or a kiosk at your store or restaurant. With this, you receive all of the When I Work scheduling tools. If you just want the scheduling tools, the cost is $2 per employee, per month. Your employees can download the When I Work app for free. In addition to the scheduling tools, you also get time-off tracking as well as employee messaging.

WhenI Work also has an enterprise plan for businesses with more than 100 employees. Costs for that plan are customized based on each business's needs.

There's no long-term contract you're required to sign with When I Work. You pay monthly and can cancel at any time. There is a free 14-day trial, so you can test the platform to see if it's well suited for your employees.


Because When I Work is based on an employee schedule, your employees will get clock-in and out reminders.  

When I Work includes:

  • Mobile clock-in and out
  • Early clock-in prevention
  • Overtime reminders 
  • Geofencing
  • Meal and rest break tracking (You can also auto deduct time for meal breaks.) 
  • Attendance tracking to manage employee time off
  • Reports and a customizable timesheet to upload to your payroll system
  • Communication tools so your workers and managers stay in touch

For an additional fee of $50 per month, you can add a recruiting tool to your When I Work account, Applicant Tracking and Sourcing, that allows you to post jobs online to Facebook Jobs, Indeed, and Google Jobs so your business remains fully staffed.

Pros of When I Work  

Any device can serve as a real-time employee timeclock. You can set up a table or kiosk for workers to clock in on-site, or if you prefer, they can punch in and out using their smartphone.

The software supports shift work, so employees can bid on shifts and swap shifts. You can set limits such as how many hours or how much overtime you'll allow an employee to work. 

When I Work provides helpful tools like an employee handbook template at no cost. You'll get employee information forms, reference letter documents, and sample attendance and dress-code policies.

Cons of When I Work 

There were two drawbacks we found with When I Work. The first is that the applicant sourcing and tracking tool costs extra, and may be too expensive for most restaurants and retail businesses that already run on tight margins. A second drawback is that tech support is included, but not available over the phone on weekends. However, live chat and email support are available on Saturdays and Sundays.

Customer Support

When I Work requires you to sign in to submit a ticket. Customer service is available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday (CT), and online chat support is available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.


TimeClick: Best Time and Attendance System for On-Site Locations

With TimeClick, there are no ongoing monthly fees.
It comes with more two dozen reports that can be sorted and customized to suit your needs and wishes.
Remote employee support costs extra.

TimeClick is our pick as the best on-site time and attendance tracking solution. It's an ideal answer for businesses that don't want to pay for an online service or those that prefer to store data on their own server.


TimeClick offers four packages businesses can choose from. The price difference between the four tiers is based on the number of devices the software supports. Below is a breakdown of the four tiers. The costs below are a one-time purchase. Support is included in the cost the first year. After the first year, you'll have a recurring annual cost for tech support.

  • Base: $199 for one TimeClick license for one computer, which supports an unlimited number of employees. After the first year, a support subscription costs $99 per year.
  • Premium: For $499, you can install TimeClick on up to five devices. You can use it for an unlimited number of employees. With the Premium tier, your employees can use TimeClick's mobile clock-in and out feature. Support costs $109 annually.
  • Pro: For $999, Pro supports up to 50 devices, unlimited employees, and mobile clock-in/out also is available to your employees. An annual support subscription is $199.
  • Unlimited: At $1,499, TimeClick's Unlimited plan supports unlimited devices and an unlimited number of employees. Your employees can clock in and out using their smartphone. An annual support subscription is $299.


TimeClick provides a database of your employee's personal information and includes all the key features you'd expect in a time and attendance software system. This time and attendance solution: 

  • Tracks hours worked and overtime by person, job or department
  • Manages night shifts and all pay periods
  • Tracks PTO, holidays, and vacation time off
  • Provides mass input (for workers who start/stop at the same time)
  • Audits all manual entries, such as manager timesheet changes
  • Configures rules to control what managers can do
  • Leaves messages for employees when they sign in or out
  • Tracks employee time off with flexible accruals for vacation and sick leave
  • Allows employees to request time off 

TimeClick interfaces with QuickBooks for payroll as well as Passport Business Software. Otherwise, you can download a CSV timesheet from TimeClick to update to your payroll provider.

Pros of TimeClick

For physical locations where workers clock-in and out, TimeClick offers a robust time and attendance system. It lets you know who is on-site and the total number of hours they've worked. The installation process with TimeClick takes only a few minutes per computer and up to five minutes to install the database. You can purchase it, set it up, and begin using it the same day.

TimeClick includes two-dozen standard reports that you can sort and customize. You can even add a signature line before printing timesheets.

The software is flexible, you can do mass entries and you can give some employees, such as administrative staff permission to modify their records while requiring that hourly employees contact a manager if they forgot to clock in or out and to make any corrections to their timesheet.

Cons of TimeClick

TimeClick isn't cloud-based; therefore, you'll need to download software releases to keep it updated. TimeClick typically upgrades its software annually, with smaller releases as needed for bug fixes and enhancements. TimeClick doesn't provide an easy way to distinguish billable from nonbillable hours, and it lacks biometric options to prevent time theft.

And if you wish to upgrade the software to support remote employees, you will have to pay for a pricier license that has mobile clock-in and out options.

Customer Support

TimeClick support hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. (MT), Monday through Friday, by phone and text. You can also send a contact request online. TimeClick provides a free knowledgebase, FAQs, and a troubleshooting tool for users.


Clockify: Best Time and Attendance System for Remote and Office Workers

Clockify has a forever free option that supports an unlimited number of users.
It comes with several built-in integrations.
Clockify does not work with a traditional timeclock.

Clockify is a superior option for small businesses with on-site and remote office staff that want an affordable time and attendance system that includes client billing. Clockify provides a Free Forever plan, with features that are on a par with those offered by many paid time and attendance services. The free plan supports unlimited users, unlimited projects, and unlimited reports. It also includes apps and integrations.


Clockify ranges in price from free to $9.99 per user, per month. Most small businesses will find the free plan more than adequate. It provides time tracking for an unlimited number of users. Here's more about Clockify's four plans:

  • The Free plan tracks time and attendance for an unlimited number of employees. It supports an unlimited number of projects, and you get unlimited reports. Clockify has APIs with dozens of applications, including JIRA, Trello, ToDoist, Outlook, Google Calendar and Gmail.
  • The Plus plan ($9.99 per month) adds reminders, required fields, time rounding, auditing and branded reports.
  • The Premium plan ($29.99 per month) includes project templates, bulk editing capability, and additional security features like the ability to hide certain pages.
  • The Enterprise plan ($9.99 per month, per user) gives business owners and managers everything in the Premium plan plus custom fields, time approval, manager roles, and single sign-on. This plan also provides phone support. 


The basic features include time and attendance for as many employees as you have. Most of the time-tracker features are free. Using this feature, employees can start and stop time as they work, or they can input hours manually as needed per day or project.  

You also get:

  • A dashboard to track what employees are working on, track hours toward projects, track hours by team, and run reports. You can see who is working on what as well as who is on a break
  • Leave management to track time off for sick leave, PTO, or other needs, such as jury duty. You can see who is out of the office
  • Approvals so that managers can view timesheets before sending them to payroll
  • Billable hours to track employee work hours for client billing purposes
  • Interfaces for over 40 applications such as and Salesforce. Or, create your own API integration using Zapier to sync your data with over 1,500 apps

Clockify delivers a setup checklist to configure your workspace settings, employees, groups, projects, and bill rates (if you use them).

Pros of Clockify

Employees can record their time either by starting and stopping a timer, or by entering work hours into a digital timesheet. The timer is great for tracking when and how long remote workers are online. Managers review and approve hours, making changes before sending the timesheet to payroll.

Clockify connects with other software through prebuilt integrations or APIs – great if you use CRM or project management tools. That means employee time, project, and client work hours can be interfaced with and tracked with the other business software you use.

Cons of Clockify

Clockify doesn't include a traditional punch clock.

Customer Support

Clockify offers 24/7 customer support by email for all of its plans. In addition, you can log on to Clockify's website to schedule a live call, request a demo or submit a ticket online.

If you upgrade to the Enterprise plan, you can request them to call you at a specific time.


Rippling: Featured Sponsor

Rippling can be implemented in less than four weeks.
It integrates with more than 400 applications.
You pay an additional monthly base fee for the HR help desk.

With its HR and IT automation features, intuitive platform, and exhaustive app integration capabilities, Rippling is our choice as the easiest HR software to implement. Rippling software typically takes about 2.5 weeks to implement; once it's in full swing, it can streamline HR processes (e.g., onboarding can be reduced to a mere 90 seconds).


Rippling's employee management platform starts at $8 per employee per month. For an added cost, you can customize your plan with advanced HR and IT features. Businesses that want quick access to the HR Help Desk pay an additional monthly fee, too. Rippling doesn't offer a free trial, like some of its competitors, but you can arrange for a free demo with a Rippling product expert, who will show you an up-close look at all of the features.


Rippling's base plan, the employee management platform, comes with a foundational module that assists companies with onboarding, offboarding task management to name a few functions. From there, you can opt to add features like payroll, employee benefits, talent management, and app management and device management. Here's an expanded look at Ripplings' features:

  • Administration: Rippling's solution starts with a base software plan. This module includes a unified employee database, electronic document management and task management. If you want to expand the solution, you can add full-service payroll (e.g., tax filing, direct deposit, workers' comp and garnishments, year-end tax forms and new hire filing) and benefits administration (e.g., online new hire enrollment, open enrollment, employee self-service, payroll deductions and third-party broker support).
  • Employee management: Rippling users can access useful employee management features like onboarding and offboarding, workflow and approval automation, customizable position management, applicant tracking, background checks, e-verification and offer letters. One of things we especially liked about Rippling is that it lets you configure and automate the employee onboarding process. Rippling can also integrate with learning management systems to support employee career growth.
  • Legal compliance: Rippling can help your team maintain legal compliance with courses like sexual harassment training and cybersecurity practices. They can also help automate your ACA reporting and COBRA paperwork.
  • Reporting and analytics: Rippling has customizable reporting features to analyze various aspects of your organization. For example, you can create reports to study employee turnover within your company.

Ease of Use

For business owners and HR staff, tasks can easily be created and assigned to the appropriate employees and managed under one dashboard. Users can create automated workflows to streamline various aspects of HR.

The software is capable of integrating with more than 400 other platforms, which makes it a great asset to enhance any collection of business software. It only takes 2.5 weeks to completely implement the Rippling platform, which means your HR tasks will be streamlined in no time with minimal disruption to your business.

It's not just managers who can use Rippling, though, employees can easily use the software to manage their HR tasks from any device, which offers a big time savings to small companies.

Customer Support

All users of the  Employee Platform can receive real-time live chat and email support. Additionally, larger customers are paired with a dedicated support representative who they can call, text or video chat with questions. In addition, users who want one-on-one support from certified HR pros can add the HR Help Desk feature to their plan for a monthly fee.

As part of our research, we tested Rippling's customer support by contacting the company multiple times via webchat, posing as a small business owner. Rippling representatives were quick to respond to our questions, and while they didn't go into great depth in their answers about the software, they did offer to connect us with an expert, who would give us a demo of the software.


TSheets: Best Time and Attendance System for Service Providers

TSheets has numerous ways on-the-go employees can clock in and out.
It includes geotracking that shows exactly where remote workers are spending their days.
Its employee scheduling tools cost extra.

TSheets is our choice as the best time and attendance solution for field service providers. TSheets gives you a place to store client notes and maps, and its GPS features give businesses and their mobile workers a lot of convenience and flexibility.


TSheets is pricier compared to other cloud-based time and attendance software programs. Below are the two plans available from TSheets. In addition to the per-employee fees, you'll pay a monthly base fee (also noted below). Here are more details about TSheets' two plans:

  • Premium costs $8 per employee, per month, and there is a $20 monthly base fee. This plan includes job and shift tracking, timesheet management, and payroll integration.
  • Elite costs $10 per employee, per month with a $40 monthly base fee. The Elite plan adds geofencing, timesheet signatures and project tracking.

TSheets offers a 14-day free trial you can use to test how the features might work for your business.


TSheets is built with the mobile worker in mind. The system gives field employees like traveling sales reps and service providers flexibility in how they clock in and out. They can use a mobile app, a laptop computer, a telephone, text message, or even sign in using Twitter.

TSheets offers:

  • A mobile app that gives employees an easy way to check their appointment schedule, and it logs their time
  • A way to see when co-workers are on the clock
  • Self-service tools to manage paid time off and track how long an employee has been at a specific site or how they worked on a project
  • Customized alerts that notify you via email, text message or Twitter when workers are nearing the end of their shifts
  • Integrations with QuickBooks, ADP, Justworks, Sage, Gusto, Wagepoint, Square, Xero and more

The scheduling software, which is included in the monthly fees, allows managers to build and then share schedules with employees, and assign jobs and shifts. Employees can see the latest schedule in real time by logging into the system or through the TSheets mobile app. 

Employees can add their work schedules to any calendar app that supports iCal. This includes any iOS, Google or Outlook calendars. 

Pros of TSheets

Employees can use the app to view their schedules, receive notifications of schedule changes and request time off. 

The TSheets mobile app employs both geofencing and geotracking. Employers can restrict where employees are clocking in and out from as well as monitor their work locations throughout the day at 10-minute intervals.

Cons of TSheets

A potential downside is that TSheets doesn't work with traditional timeclocks. Instead, it offers a TSheets kiosk so that office staff and clock in and out on-site. In addition, some employees may not like that you're using GPS to track their whereabouts throughout the day.

Further, many of the other time and attendance systems we researched provide extensive lists of payroll programs they connect with for free. With TSheets, you may have to pay a one-time fee to export your company's timecard data as a CSV file to upload to your payroll software.

Customer Support

TSheets offers phone support from 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. (MT), Monday through Friday. Live chat is available from 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The TSheets website is also full of helpful resources, including a learning center, resource center, online tools, brochures and FAQs.


Pricing for Time and Attendance Systems


The cost of a time and attendance system ranges from free to, on the high end, $10 per person, per month. Cloud-based systems often have a monthly fee, such as TSheets that charges $8 per month, per employee, in addition to a $20 monthly fee.

However, if you purchase a system that you host on-site, you may pay an upfront fee of $99 and up, but you won't have monthly fees. Instead, you'll pay a license fee for each computer and a setup fee to install and configure your timekeeping system. Setup fees can vary from $100 to $1,000 or more depending on the vendor.

Factors that affect your overall pricing for a time-keeping system include:

  • The number of employees (users) you have
  • The number of administrators (users) who use the system
  • The number of locations you collect time at
  • The range of features you need, such as scheduling in addition to timekeeping
  • Implementation and setup fees
  • Whether or not you want customized reports and interfaces
  • Whether or not you need single sign-on or other add-on services
  • Annual support fees (included in most online systems)
  • Hardware, such as a computer or tablet to serve as your timeclock

Most web-based time and attendance system providers and apps charge on a per-user basis; in other words, there is a charge for each person, employee, manager or administrator who uses the software.

Small and medium businesses often find online cloud-based solutions best for time tracking as they contain built-in rules to calculate state-mandated overtime. They also help businesses comply with labor laws and regulations affecting time off, such as sick leave and FMLA (The Family Leave and Medical Act). 

Some time and attendance system providers offer volume discounts based on the number of employees, with per-employee costs going down as your business grows and you hire more employees.

The other cost to consider with time and attendance systems is whether you wish to integrate it with a physical punch-style timeclock. Timeclocks range in price from several hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars depending on features like facial recognition.

If you want to install your timeclock app on a tablet, you'll need to consider the costs of any hardware you'll need.

Two final recommendations regarding price. One, be wary of vendors that don't disclose their pricing on their website. Two, with any time and attendance software or service you choose, start with the base package and then add on as your business needs change.

Buying Guide

Features of Time and Attendance Systems

Time and attendance systems include features that help businesses keep track of when employees work. Most also monitor employee time off and some include employee scheduling and shift scheduling to make workforce planning easier. The timekeeping features to look for are:

  • Clock in and clock out. Time and attendance systems should offer employees multiple ways to clock in and out. Some include a built-in time clock, or employees can input time worked on a web browser, mobile app, telephone, text message, or via social media.
  • Timeclocks. For those who prefer a traditional timeclock, many time-keeping apps are compatible with swipe cards, PINs, bar codes, and biometrics, such as fingerprint, photo clock in, and facial scans. Others use a virtual timeclock app.
  • Mobile access. Cloud-based systems offer either a mobile app or mobile-friendly website you can set up on a computer or tablet. That gives employees who work outside of the office an easy way to clock in and out, and it lets you manage other aspects of their time, such as meal breaks and drive time.
  • GPS tracking. The majority of mobile apps use geolocation features for tracking, such as geofencing, to either record the exact locations where an employee punches in and out from, or restrict the areas where they can clock in and out. Some, like TSheets, can monitor employee whereabouts.
  • Dashboard. Most time-tracking applications give you a dashboard view so you can see whether your employees are in the office, on PTO, on a break or are clocked out.
  • Job trackers. Some time trackers let employees log how long they work on specific client projects or job tasks. This is valuable to businesses that charge clients based on how long they work on a project or task, such as consulting or law firms.
  • Time-off requests. The best time and attendance systems track employees' time off, their requests for time off and approvals for time off. Some are set up to streamline the process with online PTO accruals and request forms that managers can view and approve.
  • Scheduling. Most time and attendance software providers have employee scheduling tools built in, or they are available for an extra charge. The attendance software then monitors whether employees are clocking in late or leaving early. Some provide reminders.
  • Notifications and alerts. Some timeclock apps offer alerts sent by email or send text messages to managers to notify them when an employee arrives late, leaves early or is nearing overtime. Managers can quickly determine whether an employee nearing overtime should continue working or be sent home.
  • Reports. Most time and attendance software provide businesses with detailed reports about the hours employees are working. This helps managers determine staffing levels and scheduling needs. Performance management reports, financial reporting, activity reporting, attendance reporting, time-off summaries and leave reports are examples of reports that can be printed or exported from time-tracking systems.
  • Software compatibility. Most time and attendance software applications have built-in payroll software integration so you can easily sync with your payroll software or export data in a payroll friendly format, such as a CSV file, saving time and reducing errors.
  • Customer support. The level of customer support varies across time and attendance trackers. Most provide email, phone or chat support. Some will set up your system for you and help you troubleshoot at an extra cost. Others require a support contract.

Benefits of a Time and Attendance System

Ensures Compliance

A time and attendance system provides employees with a means to consistently record their time worked. These systems reduce errors, track paid breaks and unpaid lunch hours, and help you keep track of overtime so you comply with federal and state labor laws.

Research from time and attendance system provider Replicon revealed just how important these solutions are. The study discovered that 96% of employees say they have made mistakes when recording their time and attendance, with 86% saying they have challenges tracking their time.

Improves Accuracy

Automated timekeeping systems pay employees more accurately. There's no more guessing when someone started or left work, and rounding errors are minimized. That helps reduce time theft. Research from the American Payroll Association shows that three-quarters of businesses are affected by employee time theft. 

Whether it's tardiness, sneaking out early, or taking long breaks, the study found that the average hourly worker cheats their employer out of anywhere between 50 minutes and 4.5 hours of work time a week. That translates into potentially tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue each year. 

Saves Time

Another benefit of using a digital time and attendance system is that it reduces the time that employees, managers, HR, and payroll team members spend manually tracking time.

Sierra Workforce Solutions said research shows this can take about 6 minutes per time card. Depending on how large your organization is, timekeeping is a time-consuming process. Using a time and attendance system eliminates that burden from managers and staff, freeing them to work on more value-added tasks. 

Reduces Disputes

Time and attendance software's functionality reduces errors that may occur when deciphering handwritten timesheets or manually keying in hours. Using an automated time-tracking program prevents timecard disputes and reassures employees that they're being paid accurately. 

Easy to Use

Ease of use is another benefit of time and attendance systems. These systems make it simple for employees to clock in and out. They can typically do so from their desk using a computer timeclock or phone app. Most systems also offer a mobile app, which gives remote and field workers an easy way to record their time. 

All in One

Once your employees are logged into the system, they clock in and out, view their total hours worked each week, review their schedules, see how much time off they've accrued, and request time off. 

Those in charge have additional controls to track employees' attendance and hours, review labor data reports, and approve or deny time-off requests. The system allows the data to be exported as a report or CSV file should you want to share it with other systems or users.

Community Expert Insight

We spoke to small business owners to find out which systems they found most valuable and what they liked about them.

Kim Brown uses OnTheClock. She likes that each employee can use their own app to log in and out.

"We can see the location of [the] punch-in and out, we can send out schedules, and we can make notes for employees' duties," Brown said.

Trish from Pet Resort has been using When I Work for five years, first as an employee and now as an employer.

"Ease of use for both parties is fantastic, and it's well worth paying for to save the time," she said.

Specifically, she likes how easy When I Work's shift templates are for easy scheduling. Additionally, she appreciates how easy it is to add and remove employees.

Time and Attendance FAQS

How Do You Decide What You Need in a Time and Attendance Software Solution?

Consider the work employees do and how best to track that kind of work. For example, a plumbing firm tracks work by job and also needs to track drive time. A cafe tracks workers in shifts. A manufacturing firm may track work on a line, where all workers start and stop at once. And in an office, work schedules rarely change; therefore, your time tracking may be more focused on time-off tracking.

Once you determine the kind of data you need to capture, choose a time and attendance system that's easy for you to set up and for employees to use. A mobile app is best for field workers, whereas retail workers in your shop may find a kiosk easiest to sign into. 

Also, consider the kinds of output you need for your payroll system and reporting. For example, if you bill clients for workers' time, you need a system that lets you assign work hours to clients, projects or tasks. It's best to test-drive the timekeeping software to ensure it does what you need it to do. Most platforms offer free 30-day trials.

What Is Biometric Time and Attendance Software?

A biometric time and attendance system identifies an employee using characteristics unique to him or her. For example, it could be a fingerprint that the employee must provide. The software gathers specific information, such as the fingerprint or an employee's retina, to ensure the person who is using the timeclock is the correct individual. The biometric tools time and attendance systems use are similar to how you may provide your fingerprint, handprint or thumbprint as proof of identification at your bank.

How Does a Time and Attendance System Improve Efficiency in the Workplace?

A time and attendance system saves time for both your employees and your managers and HR staff. Employees no longer have to write down each time they punch in, take a break or leave for the day. Instead, they clock in and out with the push of a button. That prevents them from having to add up all the hours.

Time and attendance systems also save your managers' time. Managers (or your HR staff) no longer have to verify work hour totals and rekey the total hours onto a spreadsheet or input the time into a payroll system. It can all be automated.

What Is the Best Employee Timeclock? 

Choosing the best timeclock depends on your company's specific needs. Most time and attendance system providers list which timeclocks they integrate best with. After choosing a system, you can then examine the clocks those providers offer. 

The best timeclocks are those that have the features and tools your business needs. Some timeclocks only clock employees in and out, while others offer the ability to check schedules, review time cards, see paid time-off accruals, post employee messages, and let workers request time off. 

In addition, you need to ensure the timeclock you choose offers the functionality, in terms of the method you want employees following to clock in and out, you need. If, for example, you want employees to use swipe cards, the timeclock should be compatible with swipe cards. 

If you want them to use PINs, the timeclock you choose should offer that. Additionally, if you want more secure options, such as biometric clock-ins to prevent buddy punching, it should allow employees to clock in and out using their fingerprint or facial scan. 

Another thing to consider when choosing a timeclock is the service and warranty options. Make sure you are covered should the timeclock malfunction in some way.

How Much Does a Time and Attendance System Cost? 

Traditional timeclocks cost hundreds of dollars in addition to setup fees and annual service contracts. Newer cloud-based time and attendance software is priced per user and, based on our research, ranges from $2 to $10 per employee, per month. Some vendors offer basic, free timekeeping systems in hopes that you'll upgrade as your business grows.

What Is Mobile Time Tracking? 

Mobile time tracking refers to a time and attendance system that works through a mobile app or a mobile-optimized website to track and manage the time of offsite workers, such as service providers or remote office employees. This option is especially valuable in today's environment in which many employees are working from home.

How Does GPS Work in a Time and Attendance System?

With geolocation, the system records the exact location of an employee each time they clock in or out. Employers can then see those locations and make sure the employees are where they are supposed to be. 

Geofencing lets employers set location boundaries defining where employees can clock in and out from. For example, employers can set boundaries around a worksite to ensure their workers are showing up each day. Without this option, an employee, in theory, could clock in and out from home and never show up at the job. 

Some systems have added mobile tracking features that record the location of an off-site employee throughout the day. The system pings the mobile device every few minutes so employers can view a map of where their field employees worked throughout the day.

Our Methodology

To determine the best time and attendance system, we reviewed over 100 time and attendance software providers. To narrow down the list, we prioritized vendors with a solid online reputation with services ranked high by users. 

We analyzed each service based on the following factors: time-tracking capabilities, time-off management, overtime/tardy monitoring, ease of use, price, scheduling tools, integration options, customer service, mobile access, and user feedback, such as online reviews, Better Business Bureau complaints, and online software review ratings.

We narrowed our list down to 50 excellent options, including Acculor, AcroTime from Acroprint, ADP, All Hours, AMG Time, Attendance on Demand, Attendancebot, Buddy Punch, Calamari, ClockIn Portal, ClockVIEW from Acumen, Clockwise, Clockify, Clockshark, Deputy, Emploitime, Exam Time, FingerCheck, Harvest, Homebase, Hubstaff, Humanity, Kronos, allGeo, On The Clock, On Time Web, Open Time Clock, Parim, Pay Clock Online, PrimePay, TimeAttend, TimeClick, TimeSheets, Time Sheet Mobile, Time Station, TimeDoctor, Toggl, Track Smart, TrackTime24, Tsheets, Sling, uAttend, Vericlock, Virtual Time Clock, When I Work, Worksana, and 7Shifts.

Next, we researched each provider by investigating its services, watching tutorials and how-to videos, and reading in-depth comments from current users to narrow our list down to 10 finalists. We contacted the support teams posing as business owners to gauge the type of customer service each provider offers before choosing the final five best time and attendance providers for small businesses.

Laura Handrick Contributing Writer
Laura Handrick, MA, SPHR, is a professional with more than 30 years experience in HR, training, organizational development, and innovation management give her insight into business management, technology best practices, and labor law compliance. Having served at the executive level in Fortune 100 firms and international franchise organizations, Laura is passionate about helping businesses grow and scale. She has written over 100 long-form articles on topics ranging from software selection to performance management and shared her expertise in over 75 publications including the Wall Street Journal and Fast Company. Laura has a master's degree in instructional technology, is certified as an international franchise executive through the IFA, and as a senior professional in human resources through SHRM.
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