Track employee hours to ensure that your employees are paid fairly for the hours they work. Achieving accurate, reliable time tracking has been a challenge faced by employers since the dawn of hourly pay. Whether your teams work in shifts or on unique schedules, you need a way for them to ‘clock in’ at the beginning of their time and ‘clock out’ at the end, leaving a record that you can use later to ensure that their pay check mirrors their hours.
Of course, with every time tracking system, there are pros and cons, all the way back to the original punch cards. If your business is preparing to upgrade your time tracking system, now is your ideal opportunity to determine the best way to track employee hours for your team and workflow.
At eBillity, we’ve put a lot of thought into time tracking and can help you examine the benefits of each available time-tracking system.
The Challenges of Paper Card Time Tracking
The original timecards were a testament to early computer technology, punching literal holes in an employee’s timecard to indicate when they arrived and departed. The employee was, of course, responsible for lining up the card properly while the time clock punched in a location based on the current time.
Punch card time tracking, of course, had its errors. If the time clock or the printed cards were offset, it was up to management to guess the correct time entered. Individual cards had to be tracked and payroll depended on keeping track of boxes upon boxes of punched cards. In addition, getting to the time clock on time and punching in and out for breaks introduced a tedium many of us are still familiar with today. Along with the risks of having a friend punch your card for you.
Manual Ways to Track Employee Hours
Today, offices are still using a variety of manual time tracking systems. Some use an honor system of notation; others rely on an updated version of the original card-punching time clock to track employee hours.
Paper Timecards & The Stamping Time Clock
There are still thousands (perhaps millions) of businesses that still use paper timecards, complete with the rack of little slots along the side to hold individual employee cards. The cards are printed up every day/week/month and the time clock stamps an inked number into the correct slot on the card over the tracked time period.
This system is both tedious and inflexible, requiring everyone to keep track of all those cards, and leaving no flexibility for things like taking part of the day off to pick up a child from school or emergency trips to the doctor.
Keeping a Timesheet with Sign In/Out Times
Time sheet tracking is extremely common, relying on employees to sign in and sign out as they clock their time worked. Timesheets are more flexible, but also more chaotic and require more trust. A time sheet where everyone signs the same sheet requires the manager to sort out things like time worked and breaks taken for individuals. However, individual time tracking leaves more room for manipulation and false reporting of longer or more complete hours.
Time Tracking Spreadsheet
Pen and paper timesheet tracking evolved in many workplaces into a time tracking spreadsheet, a method that is still used by millions of freelancers and self-directed professionals today to track not only their time in the clock, but also their time on specific projects.
Spreadsheet time tracking is the most likely when creating an invoice for individual clients and billable project hours but can be used for almost any team and task configuration. It is flexible and paper-free, but still tedious and subject to misreporting.
Digital Time Tracking Methods
Beyond manual time tracking, companies also have the option to upgrade to automated digital time clocks that create records in a payroll database directly instead of relying on translating data from the timeclock system to payroll processing. These systems involve an electronic timeclock and some way for employees to enter their credentials into the system as they arrive and leave the workplace.
Swipe or Scan Timecards
Plastic timecards are like a cross between a paper timecard and a gas card or credit card. Each card has a magnetic strip (or chip) that aligns with the employee’s time clock account. When they scan the card into the time clock by sliding over the strip or waving the chip at the reader, they automatically clock in and out.
This system works well, except when employees lose their card, forget their card at home, must dig for their card and hold up the line, or hand their card to a friend for buddy-punching (a term coined during the punch card days).
Badge Scanning at the Door
In workplaces where all employees have a security badge, scanning these badges can be used to clock in and out. Depending on the facility, the badges are also used to track employee movements through the building as they scan to open doors. This can be a useful way to track where employees are and when they arrive or leave, but only works for employers and teams already equipped with security badge scanning infrastructure.
Also, there can be a critical difference between passing through a door and starting one’s shift such that employees who arrive early to enjoy a slow cup of coffee and some morning chit-chat and those who linger over the last donut may appear to clock longer hours.
Fingerprint Scanner Time Clocks
Some digital timeclocks use fingerprint scanners and other biometric data. This sounds nifty until the scanner doesn’t work right because the scanner needs cleaning, hands are dry, there’s a cut on someone’s scanned finger pad, and so on. Biometric time clocks are, in practice, often not yet advanced enough for efficient and accurate time readings. If it takes five minutes to make the scanner work, the poor employee appears late, and so does everyone in line behind them.
The Best Ways to Track Employee Hours
Fortunately, technology marches forward, and there are modern methods to clock time that take all previous problems into consideration.
Time Clock Kiosk
A time clock kiosk crosses the ease of a mobile app with the essential necessity of a workplace time clock. The kiosk is installed at the best location for shifts to start and accepts a four-digit code for each employee. It then snaps a picture of the employee as they clock in with a few easy taps on the screen to combat buddy-punching and welcomes each employee in just a few seconds.
Mobile App Time Tracking
Similarly, a time clock mobile app is adaptive to the modern hybrid workforce where not everyone clocks in at the same workplace, and work hours can be tracked even for remote or traveling employees who aren’t in the office. Both the mobile app and kiosk use software that makes it easy to track not just arrival and departure, but also rest breaks, meal breaks, and specific project-based billable hours with a few taps and preconfigured options.
Adaptive Online Time Clock
Online time tracking software makes it possible to adapt your need for accurate time tracking with the evolving nature of today’s workforce. No need for tedious paper cards, losable plastic cards, security badge infrastructure, or even a singular time clock. You can place time clock kiosks wherever clocking in takes place and provide out-of-office teams with a time clock mobile app that also snaps a picture to confirm that they’re the right person, in the right place, and ready to work when clocking in occurs.
With quick taps, employees can mark time spent on projects, adapt their schedules to flexible work hours, and take breaks that also send reminders to clock back in at the right time. With a customizable back end for managers, you can also provide the right quick buttons to make things easy and review clock-in photos before running payroll.
Discover the Best Employee Tracking Solutions
If you are ready to upgrade your company’s time clock, Time Tracker by eBillity is here to make time tracking as easy and intuitive as possible. Contact us today to explore the time-tracking software solutions that will work best for your team, or give it Time Tracker a try for 14-days risk free.