manage employees

How to track employee time and attendance

Employee attendance tracking is important for several reasons. Business owners need to know their employees are working safely, wherever they’re supposed to be. Employee absenteeism impacts productivity, morale, and, ultimately, your bottom line. But a comprehensive attendance policy, paired with an attendance tracking system, increases business performance across the board.

7 ways to track employee time and attendance

Mobile time tracking apps

Mobile time tracking apps are a good solution for remote teams and employees who visit multiple worksites throughout the day. Employees can track time from anywhere using the mobile devices they already have in their pockets.

Best of all, mobile time tracking paired with GPS location technology helps curb time theft and buddy punching. Supervisors can see who’s on the clock and where they’re working, ensuring employees are on-site when they’re supposed to be. And when it’s time to run payroll, employees can submit timesheets from an app, so payroll is always on time and accurate.

Geofencing technology

GPS location tracking paired with geofencing technology makes it easier for employees to track time upon entering and leaving a job site. Time tracking software with geofencing allows managers to set virtual geofences around various job sites. When employees enter and exit the geofence, the software prompts them to clock in and out.

The result is fewer timesheet edits, added protection against buddy punching, and an easier employee time tracking experience overall. 72% of respondents surveyed in 2018 report a positive experience with geofencing in the workplace.

Wall-mounted punch clocks

Business owners with employees at one location, or who prefer employees track time from one device, may benefit from a wall-mounted punch clock. Traditional punch clocks require employees to insert a physical time card. The punch clock then stamps the time in or time out on the card. This type of punch clock is prone to buddy punching. Meanwhile, workers can lose or damage these time cards easily.

Digital punch clocks can be more reliable. Employees either swipe a card or enter a PIN to track time. However, these punch clocks are still prone to buddy punching. Curb buddy punching with a punch clock that verifies employees are on-site using personal PINs or photo identification.

Printable timesheet templates

Many business owners say they still use printed timesheets to track employee time. This method of attendance tracking requires employees to fill out a paper timesheet at the beginning and end of each shift. It’s a common method, but it can result in inaccurate payroll, time theft, and even labor law violations. After all, wage and hour laws require business owners to keep accurate employee time records for up to two years. Paper timesheets won’t make that easy.

If you choose to track time and attendance using a printable timesheet, make sure workers can use it to track overtime hours, breaks, and time off. Keep in mind that these timesheets can help you calculate a worker’s basic pay. But they don’t include things like taxes, health care costs, or other paycheck deductions.

Excel timesheet templates

Excel spreadsheets are a step up from printed paper timesheets. They’re less likely to be lost or damaged, but they’re still prone to errors and inaccuracies. Using Excel timesheets, employees must enter their work hours, breaks, and overtime manually.

If you use Excel timesheets to track employee time, make sure your employees can access and understand how to use the spreadsheet. Then keep backups of your spreadsheets for at least two years to comply with wage and hour regulations. When it’s time to run payroll, ask employees to verify and sign their timesheets to avoid payroll discrepancies.

Time and attendance software

Time and attendance software could be the best solution for employees who primarily work on computers. Employees can clock in when they start working and clock out when they stop working using a web-based solution or desktop software. Employee time data is stored digitally or in the cloud. Running payroll can be as easy as exporting that time data to your preferred accounting software. Additionally, many accounting software solutions include a native time and attendance tracking component.

Time clock kiosks

A mobile or tablet-optimized kiosk is a great solution for business owners who prefer to have employees track time from one device. Managers can move time clock kiosks from place to place throughout the day. They can even enable time clocks on several devices, so workers at different job sites can track time easily. For example, a catering company may use time clock kiosks to track employee attendance at various events held in different locations. Or a construction company might use a kiosk at each job site.

How to initiate an attendance policy for your business

A comprehensive attendance policy improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, and sets clear expectations for your employees. It should clearly define:

  • When you expect employees to be at work.
  • How workers can track their time and attendance.
  • How workers can request paid or unpaid time off.
  • What workers can expect if their manager doesn’t approve their time-off request.
  • How workers can approve their time cards before they submit them for payroll.

An HR expert or employment attorney may help you craft your attendance policy. But remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Policies vary depending on the nature of your business, your employees, your schedules, and more.

Once you’ve got a policy in place, take these steps to implement it.

1. Add the policy in your employee handbook

You should make your policy available and accessible to all employees at all times. Include it in your employee handbook, post a copy in the breakroom, and post it wherever you keep company resources online. Do whatever you have to do to get the policy in front of your employees.

2. Communicate the policy to employees often

Share your attendance policy with new employees during your onboarding or orientation period. But don’t stop there. New employees have a lot of information to take in during their first few weeks. Review your attendance and other company policies with all employees consistently.

3. Enforce the policy uniformly

Your time and attendance policy should apply to all employees equally. One employee or group of employees with similar jobs should not be exempt from the policy when others aren’t. This could lead to claims of favoritism and discrimination.

4. Recognize employees who abide by the policy

Motivate your team to abide by the attendance policy by rewarding those who do. Implement attendance tracking awards and reward employees for following the policy. Use gift cards, extra PTO hours, or other perks.

5. Encourage planned PTO

Employees need time off to unwind from the daily grind. An attendance policy shouldn’t discourage employees from taking time off. Encourage employees to plan ahead. Planned PTO can help regulate and reduce unscheduled leave.

How tracking employee attendance helps your business

Productivity losses from missed work cost U.S. employers an estimated $225.8 billion each year, according to a 2015 report from the CDC. That’s $1,685 per employee. Losses include but are not limited to absences due to illnesses, injuries, and mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.

An employee attendance policy can help you reduce unexcused absences and increase employee morale. 69% of business managers say unplanned absences add to the workload, according to a 2014 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. 61% said these types of absences increase stress. 59% said they disrupt the work of others. And 48% said unplanned absences hurt morale.

The bottom line: You staff your business intentionally. You hire the people you need to get the job done. If those people don’t come in for their shifts, it affects your productivity and critical operational needs. It impacts your team’s ability to collaborate and work together. When employees consistently come to work, morale, productivity, teamwork, and business performance improves.

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