Time Tracking For Employees: The Best Apps Of 2022

Time is money.

Tracking employee time is money, too. 

When you pay employees for their time, it’s important to know that time is being tracked accurately, whether it’s for a shift or for billable client hours. That’s valuable data unique to your business, data that you’ll use to plan for change and growth down the road.

Tracking employee hours isn’t always easy, particularly if you are managing multiple shifts, work sites, or a mix of in-person and remote workers.Time tracking apps for employees that bridge the gap between locations and logistics can simplify things—enough that you actually get more of your own time back. They turn tracking time into a productivity boost.

We have five different apps that will handle time tracking for employees for every possible scenario.

5 best time tracking software for employees

When I Work

Toggl

ClickUp

TimeCamp

Hubstaff

1. When I Work

When I Work is ideal for any size business, whether brick-and-mortar, online, or a mix of both.

Running on the principle that any device can be turned into an employee time clock, When I Work lets your team clock in and out, anywhere, 24/7, with you receiving their attendance data immediately. This means the app is creating accurate timesheets automatically.

Whether it’s shift employees or remote independent contractors clocking in for a project, the data is gathered in one place so you can see labor and contract costs across the board. In-app team messaging makes it easy to communicate among individuals or teams about projects or shifts.

Best of all, everything that happens in When I Work, from its employee scheduling software to employee attendance, is generating data that you can easily track on a dashboard. That makes it easy to see what’s happening in real-time and make immediate adjustments, but you can also use it for labor forecasting.

Key features:

  • Create, assign, and track completion of shift or team tasks
  • Time clock, timesheet, and payroll integration
  • GPS tracking and geofencing
  • In-app team messaging
  • Budget-friendly pricing for every size business

2. Toggl

Toggle is ideal for businesses who need to track the time devoted to specific clients or projects. It provides billable hours, which means it also tracks productivity.  

You can create project or client-based categories (or both), and employees can turn on the timer when working on those projects. A dashboard allows you to generate custom reports to see how time is being used. You may also view current and planned work calendars (Toggl Plan) to see how projects are mapped out to get a better understanding of timeline and planning productivity.

Key features:

  • Integration with many productivity apps
  • Desktop timer for tracking tasks
  • Customizable reports
  • Time tracking apps for desktop or mobile device
  • Companion to Toggl Plan and Toggl Hire

3. ClickUp

For project-based teams, or those incorporating remote workers or independent contractors, ClickUp packages time tracking with productivity tools, like tasks with in-app messaging. It’s more than simply tracking the time an employee spends working on a project, but is meant to help them use their time more wisely.

Through the use of workspaces and a variety of different in-app views of project tasks, you can control who has access to projects while giving employees the flexibility to choose the time and productivity view that works best for them.

Key features:

  • Integrates with many other productivity and time tracking apps
  • In-app messaging associated with specific projects and tasks
  • Manage project workflow and tasks through sub-level tasks
  • Create and assign tasks
  • Estimate time needed based on data

4. TimeCamp

For medium to larger businesses who work directly with other businesses or firms, the mix of independent contractors and multiple project teams can make time tracking complicated. TimeCamp is ideally suited for this.

By tracking time in the background, TimeCamp is less intrusive than many time tracking apps for employees. Managers can pull all related employee time associated with a project into one overview. Dashboard and reporting features make it easy to see if projects are on budget, based on the time-related billing.

Key features:

  • One-click tracker
  • Time tracking and timesheet approvals
  • Custom client and project-based billing rates
  • Standard and custom reports
  • Direct invoicing and billing of clients

5. Hubstaff

Ideally suited for managing employees in the field or remote teams, Hubstaff allows employees to choose the tasks they will work on while automatically tracking the time it takes them in the background. It can also track the activity an employee is doing in the background to make sure you aren’t paying them to surf the web.

Submitted tasks and times are sent to a dashboard where managers can easily see what’s been worked on and for how long. With integrations with other popular business and productivity apps, its automation is extended beyond what it offers in app.

Key features:

  • Offline time tracking that syncs when connected
  • Manage time-off and other schedule requests
  • Team activity reports to monitor productivity
  • GPS tracking and geofencing
  • Project budgeting and reporting

Benefits of using an employee time tracking app

Not every employee likes the idea of dealing with time tracking apps. 

They’d rather do the work and get paid without having to track the time they spend on the work. For them, it can feel like a waste of time to remember to start and stop timers whenever they jump from tasks or clients.

If you can find an effective way to track employee time, will the returns be worth the hassle or employee pushback?

Absolutely. Check out these five reasons why:

1. Track and increase employee productivity

You’re not just tracking time. You’re tracking productivity.

Employees who are motivated by completing tasks or seeing measurable overall results will value time tracking. They can see where their own time is being spent, and what they are accomplishing.

Even more than that, tracking employee productivity is also about your bottom line. Disengaged employees are expensive, costing you about 34% of their salary. Productivity tracking makes this issue readily apparent before it goes on too long.

There are apps, such as Timedoctor, that track employee time automatically. 

These might be useful if employees resist using timers or clocking in correctly. While some employees might find this approach intrusive, knowing that what they’re doing at their computer is being clocked, this approach can generate data that shows you what they are doing if low productivity and poor use of time is an issue.

2. Stay on budget

You have financial budgets, but you also have time budgets. They’re closely linked.

If you’ve bid a project, or made client retainer estimates based on time assumptions, you need to make sure the time spent on that work doesn’t break that budget. Tracking time means you are mindful of client budgets, stopping before accruing more hours than they are able to pay.

Time tracking software for employees also gives you the data to show clients if they question your invoice.

Labor expenses will explode if you don’t keep tabs on overtime. By tracking employee time, you can spot the problems early on.

3. Get data for immediate use, and forecasting

Apps that generate data as they’re used can show you how long certain types of projects take, or what the time cost of a particular shift runs. This helps you plan for the future.

Make more accurate bids to clients. Plan your employee schedules better. And, for in-house time tracking, you can get a sense of customer demand based on the attendance and labor data you accumulate.

But it’s not just down-the-road usefulness. As you’ll see in the next point, it’s the right-now use of that data that also affects your bottom line.

4. Fix problems before they grow

When it comes to time use, there are a few common problems that pop up:

  • Excessive overtime by employees
  • Project takes longer than expected
  • Client budgets are exceeded
  • Time theft by employees

Time tracking apps can alert you when employees have entered into overtime so you can respond right away. They can also give you historical data so you can see the trends that lead to overtime.

When it comes to time tracking for projects and clients, you have to stay on your time budget. If you’re not tracking the time with real-time data, you aren’t going to know that you’ve exceeded that budget until it’s too late. You’ll either eat the cost or bill your (unhappy) client.

Depending on the time tracking app you’re using, you may be able to spot a particular employee or task that’s taking more time than expected. Maybe there’s a time of day when your team just isn’t as productive. Maybe the task has been assigned to someone not properly qualified. Maybe you have a client that’s eating up all the time, beyond what you allotted. Perhaps your estimates are off, and tasks and projects that gobble up all the time might be understaffed or under budgeted.

Time tracking data allows you to check in and see what needs to happen to remove the roadblock. Without a time tracking app with proper capabilities, you won’t know any of this until it’s too late.

For shift employees, time tracking apps with geofencing controls helps you stop buddy punching. You can also see poor attendance trends (like if the same employee is always “sick” on Fridays). 

5. Get accurate data and stay in compliance

Federal, state, and local governments have their own requirements when it comes to maintaining records of employee work hours. While they don’t specify the method you use to gather that data, you are required to keep it for at least two years according to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Time tracking apps also help you generate accurate timesheets that can be exported directly to billing or payroll. The less you manually deal with the data, the more accurate the final output. 

And let’s not forget that more automation means time savings for you!

Key features to consider: time tracking for employees 

Time tracking is about using time to your best advantage. The app you choose shouldn’t get in the way of that.

As a manager, you need to know what is happening now, what you’re going to need, and what you’ll need in the future. With that in mind, the best employee time clock apps out there have four similarities.

1. Automation

Once the time tracking app is set up for employees, clients, and shifts or projects, it should be mostly automated from there. 

That means that one action (starting the timer) should generate data used by other actions (creating timesheets that then generate invoices). If the idea is to track time to use it wisely, the app should do most of the work. That requires automation.

2. Integration

Look for an app that integrates into software you’re already using (like time clocks, payroll processing, productivity). This is part of that automation piece, where the more integrations you have, the less time you spend simply managing software.

It’s also a budget-friendly approach so that you don’t have to use the most full-featured, expensive app out there just to get the functionality you already have in software you’re currently familiar with, and using.

3. Intuitive interface

Both you and employees should find it easy to use, with flexibility to adapt to the tools and ways you work. 

Timers that require multiple clicks end up being frustrating. Remember, your employees are hopping between projects quickly throughout the day. They’re going to have to start and stop the timers and associate the timer with the right tasks and clients multiple times.

If it’s not easy to do, they’ll just skip it and fudge their times later. 

4. Data generation

A time tracking app must generate more data than simply the time between clicking start and stop. 

It should pull in data from as much activity as possible so that you can generate reports internally and for clients, as well as see what’s happening in real time. So many of the benefits of using a time tracking app come from how well it handles data and makes it available for use.

Look for an app with a dashboard that puts that data into useful context. Data isn’t actionable if you can’t make any sense out of it.

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