6 Effective Ways to Track Your Employee Hours
Tracking employee hours isn’t simply a matter of bean-counting for the bored.
It’s about accountability, it’s about saving money, and it’s about gathering measurable data for future scheduling and business decisions.
Every well-planned employee schedule starts on the basis of accurate historical data. That comes from tracking time. Accurate client billing and project estimates all come from tracking time. Even employee morale is affected by whether or not you keep track of employee hours—nothing creates division more than people getting paid the same while doing less work.
Then there’s the issue of time theft to think about. Clocking in early or clocking out late costs you money and affects your profits.
You care about your employee time. Your clients care about their billable time.
So what’s the best way to track it?
Your best bet is to find an automated system, something cloud-based, so you always have everything you need, in one place. Paper systems, like spreadsheets and old-fashioned punch clocks can be risky. There’s a chance your files could be ruined, misplaced, or corrupted. Paper systems also leave you open for human error and data accuracy issues that can cost you valuable time and money, putting the pressure on your bottom line.
There are plenty of factors that go into choosing the right time and attendance system for your business. Here are a few things to consider before you take the plunge:
1. Choose a time and attendance system that employees will use and love
No time tracking system will do you any good if your employees don’t embrace it. Incorporate scheduling into your time and attendance software to ensure your workers will use and engage with it. Employees will always have their schedule with them, so you can be sure they know when they’re supposed to work, lowering the risk of no-shows. Plus, an automated scheduling system can save you time in the long run, too. And all that data in the system can help you make smart decisions and save money in labor costs.
2. Control time theft
Using a paper schedule and time tracking system is the easiest way for employees to steal time. In fact, a recent study showed that the average employee steals roughly 4.5 hours each week. Letting your workers fill out paper timesheets leaves you open to human error on a large scale. If you schedule an employee for 8am-4pm, that’s likely what they’ll write on their time sheet, even if they came in at 8:07am and left at 3:52pm. That’s only 15 minutes a day, but that adds up to 75 minutes a week, 300 minutes a month, and 60 hours a year.
Using an automated, cloud-based time and attendance system that relies on clocking in and out electronically can save you from this unnecessary expense. Actual time worked is recorded, down to the minute, so you can rest easy knowing that you’re not losing money to unintended time theft.
Plus, you can choose a system that takes your time-theft prevention measures to the next level. Find a solution that is secure or uses pictures to help you cut down on buddy punching, where coworkers clock each other in and out as necessary. You can also find options that have geofencing, so even though an employee may be able to use their mobile device as a time clock, they can’t actually punch in until they are at work.
3. Use a system that helps you with administrative tasks and reporting
Recording time off requests, student schedules and figuring out labor forecast reports can take a significant amount of time each week. An automated system not only helps you save time, but it can help you find ways to make your team more productive as well. Running reports with the click of your mouse is a much faster way to pinpoint where you can save on labor—and where a few more employees can make a huge difference in sales.
4. Make sure your system can integrate with your payroll provider
Time, attendance, and payroll go hand in hand. Find a system that integrates with your preferred payroll provider. When employees can track their time and attendance quickly and easily—and that data goes straight to your payroll provider—you’ll be able to ensure accuracy. Plus, when you don’t have to manually input those numbers every week, you’ll save yourself and your team some much needed time as well.
5. Think about compliance
As a U.S. employer, there are rules about what records you have to keep and how long you have to keep them. You need to keep timecard records used to determine wages for at least two years. Not only do they need to be kept, but you need to be able to access them at any time if the U.S. Department of Labor asks to inspect them. A cloud-based software time and attendance system is a great way to make sure you have everything right at your fingertips, just in case the DOL comes knocking.
6. Consider your long-term plans
Are you planning on hiring more employees soon? Do you have plans to add more locations? Are you thinking about expanding the number of brands in your portfolio? Whatever system you choose, make sure it’s scalable. If it works for you now, that’s no guarantee that it will work for you in the future as your business grows. Find the time and attendance solution that can easily grow with you, from one team to hundreds, within the timeframes that are important to you.
Track employee hours with When I Work
The best way to track employee time is simply keep accurate records on who is working or who isn’t.
You may have a time clock or standard set of shifts, and it would be easy to think that was defining who was working and who wasn’t. However, late arrivals, overtime, buddy punching, and long breaks chip away at the edge of your tight schedule.
When I Work’s employee time tracker and attendance features make it easy to see the actual hours an employee has worked, and compare them to the shift schedule. The dashboard’s design allows you to see what’s happening now, who’s working their shift, and who’s clocked out. You can also easily see which employees have missed their clock-in or who is on break.
This is generating both live and historical data, for management, right now and to make shift and schedule decisions in the future.
Businesses who don’t use a time clock or tracking app have no idea what’s happening with shifts, and no idea if they need to make changes. Even those with a time clock may not have a system that allows them to see live and historical data in a useful way.
Whether it’s concern over billable hours, accountability, or productivity, a good place to start is by tracking employee attendance. Start building a foundation of data to help you make better scheduling and client decisions right away.