5 Best Time Clock Apps For Busy Managers

Employee time tracking boils down to three simple things. Who’s there, who’s missing, and who’s late.

Too bad it’s not that simple for managers. 

Everything employees do generates data. And you need that data to help you make decisions. The wrong time clock app means you waste the data you could be gathering, data that would help you with managing your workforce and reducing labor costs.

The thing about time tracking (and the apps that claim to handle it for you) is that too often it’s seen as a stand-alone feature. Track the time. That’s it. There’s no connection to where the generated data should go.

That’s why we’re going to point you to some of the best time clock apps out there. There are a lot of apps to choose from, but not all of them are a good fit for you. We’ll show you the pros and cons, and you can make the decision yourself.

1. When I Work

When I Work is a comprehensive employee scheduling and management app with a time clock that integrates with lots of other related features.

The time tracking app makes it easy for managers to track attendance, employee breaks, and time off easily from their dashboard. The time clock can be set up with rules to control how employees use it and how or when they can clock in. For example, you can prevent buddy punching with photo clock in and end early punching in with geofencing, which makes sure that employees are actually at work before they can  clock in on their mobile devices. You can also set up different pay rates attached to the positions an employee is qualified for. 

There are more scheduling and management tools, too, including in-app messaging, custom reporting, and payroll integrations to your favorite providers. Because of its feature set and automation, this app is great for smaller teams with fewer managers who are trying to do more with less, all the way up to larger businesses with many employees and even multiple sites.

Pros:

  • Any device, whether it’s an employee’s phone, a computer, or a tablet posted at the entrance, can be a time clock. It has a user interface that’s simple and intuitive.
  • Managers can control how and when employees punch in and out, making it easier to control labor costs and track what’s happening.
  • Generates attendance reports, digital timesheets, and other data that you need for workforce management and labor forecasting.

Cons:

  • While there is a free trial option, there is no free option.
  • Some employees may not like the photo clock-in option, though this is a setting you can turn on or off, and isn’t required. 

The time clock, along with many of the other features built into When I Work, is available for you to try for free for two weeks, right now. We might be a little biased, but we think our time clock and workforce scheduling and management is the best out there, one your employees will enjoy using.

2. Homebase

Homebase integrates other employee scheduling tools with its time clock as well. Because of that, managers can use that data to track overtime, no-shows, absenteeism, and all of the other issues that affect your labor costs. With the data, you can compare sales and labor data to help you set targets.

Like many time clocks, Homebase offers flexible mobile options and is scalable for medium to large businesses. It offers a free trial for any size business.

Pros:

  • Employees can clock in and out from mobile devices, either their own or at work, using a specific PIN.
  • Remote and field teams can use the time clock as well. You’re not relegated to a brick-and-mortar location when it comes to tracking the scheduled time of employees.
  • Managers can get alerts when employees are late clocking in for their shift.

Cons:

  • Lacks the task management that’s related to employee scheduling and time tasks.
  • Correcting a missed clock-in or clock-out is difficult. Staff will need to message managers to have them fix it manually.

3. Clockify

Clockify is unique in that it focuses on tracking how time is used. That makes it ideal for businesses where employees are working on projects whose time is tracked for billing clients. With a generous selection of options for the kinds of reports it generates, Clockify is best suited for teams wanting to stay on top of project-based activity, invoicing, expenses, and client-specific costs. It could also be used to track how employees use their time, for more detailed labor forecasting.

Think of Clockify as the tool that gives you the ability to break down individual employee time use throughout the entire day. Instead of knowing when they come and go, you can see what they do while they are at work, and you know if a project is on track for time and budget. 

Pros:

  • Dashboard and calendar views show how time is being used based on date, time, or project. This helps you know the future capacity for your team.
  • Clockify integrates with popular project management apps, so you can connect the tracked time directly to where the projects are being managed.
  • Employee holiday and time-off requests can be tracked as well, to help with project planning.

Cons:

  • Some employees might not like or easily adapt to the idea of tracking how they use their time once they are at work, particularly if they’re used to simply clocking in and out each day. They will frequently have to stop to clock in and out of projects
  • The app can be unforgiving of user error, and if an employee forgets to stop the timer, manually fixing it can be time consuming.
  • Some of the generated reports of how time is used may be confusing or not align with the markers you’re hoping to track. That makes the resulting data less useful.

4. Buddy Punch

Buddy Punch features a clear dashboard that lets you track employee time and schedules. It also has a mobile app for all platforms, as well as access on the desktop via a web browser. Like many time tracker apps, it integrates with several payroll providers.

Similar to other apps with full features, it can help you monitor overtime, manage time off, and lets employees punch in when they come on shift. You can also set the pay rates based on the job or skills required. Buddy Punch lets you assign job codes for employees to use so that employees who have different jobs to do during the day can punch in and out accordingly.

Buddy Punch works best for small or medium businesses. There is a free trial option.

Pros:

  • Employees can correct errors in their time card on their own, through pending approval from management.
  • The user interface is clean and simple.
  • You can generate reports for payroll or workforce management. Because of custom job codes, those reports can provide detailed information of how employees spend their work day. 

Cons:

  • While a simplified user interface is a positive, it can also be a negative depending on expectation. Some features or useability are reduced to keep the interface simple. Some users have complained about the pared-down interface making it difficult to know if they are punched in or out.
  • The remaining balance and management of vacation, paid time off, and sick leave can be confusing for some users, and an unwieldy system of managing it frequently shows up in reviews.

5. Quickbooks Time (formerly TSheets)

As with many of these time tracking apps, Quickbooks Time has mobile functionality for punching in, including GPS tracking for geofencing purposes, mobile time clocks, and team management. 

There is a free option for one user, with a per user monthly fee beyond that. The level you choose affects the features available. Quickbooks Time is good for freelancers all the way up to large businesses.

Pros:

  • The app works on all mobile platforms. It’s not web-based, but can be used on a desktop as an app.
  • You can set different pay rates, as well as overtime rates, for each employee.

Cons:

  • Many users find the user interface clumsy or confusing, with some bugginess or unintuitive aspect to the design.
  • The software, despite having some features for scheduling and employee management, was clearly meant to track time. 

Which one should you choose?

When it comes to choosing a time clock, what you need is unique to you. Still, as you can see from our list, there are some standard features to have. 

Ease of use is one; if you and your employees don’t like using it…you won’t. 

In today’s labor force, any time tracking app you consider needs to be available in a mobile format that your employees will like using. It should also have the ability to generate data you can use to plan and watch labor costs customer demand constantly fluctuates. 

We know you’re busy. 

You’ve probably talked to your managers and team leaders about this issue. Maybe you’ve heard some feedback about time clock frustrations.

So, when it comes to choosing a time clock app, ask yourself which time clock associated tasks are taking the most time? What is frustrating people the most? Those are your requirements. That’ll help you know what you need to change, and which app is best for you.