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February 16, 2023

5 Time Tracking Methods to Boost Employee Productivity in 2023


Table of Contents

Tired of paperwork?

Tracking time is crucial to monitor employee productivity, ensure regulatory compliance, and make informed data-driven decisions. Whether you're a freelancer, manager, or business owner, finding the right time tracking method is essential to ensure seamless integration with your current systems and align with your company's culture and values. But with many methods on how to keep track of employee hours available in the market, choosing the perfect fit can be challenging. This blog post delves into various methods of time tracking to help you determine which is the best way to keep track of employees hours .

Why is time tracking important for your business?

Accurate and automatic time tracking is crucial for businesses in multiple aspects. It helps in billing clients accurately and paying employees without errors. Time tracking also plays a vital role in project management by providing insight into the time required for completing tasks and allocating resources. By monitoring the time spent on tasks, businesses can identify areas of inefficiencies and work towards improving productivity. 

Finally, time tracking provides objective data that can be used for performance evaluations and identifying areas of improvement for the employees.

How to keep track of employee hours: 5 popular time tracking methods

There are numerous employee time keeping methods available in the market today, ranging from manual entry of time on spreadsheets to sophisticated software for time tracking that automates the process. It is imperative to take into account the organization's unique requirements and characteristics to ensure that the chosen method of time tracking is efficient, effective, and well-suited to the organization's specific needs.

1. Punching a physical time card into a central time clock

One of the traditional methods of time keeping is where employees punch a physical time card into a central time clock. The physical time card that is inserted into a time clock is typically located in a central location, such as the entry or exit point of a workplace.

Pros of this method

  • Simple to use: This method is easy to understand and use for both employees and employers.

  • Cost-effective: Time clocks are relatively inexpensive compared to other attendance tracking methods.

  • Reliable: The use of a physical time clock ensures that the employee's attendance and there billable hours are accurately recorded.

  • Creates a tangible record: The use of physical time cards creates a tangible record of an employee's attendance that can be easily reviewed and verified.

Cons of this method

    • Time-consuming: The process of lining up to punch the time card can be time-consuming, especially if there are many employees.
    • Errors: The use of a physical time clock leaves room for human error, such as forgetting to punch in or out or punching in the wrong time.
      • Can be manipulated: Employees may attempt to manipulate the system by having someone else punch their time card for them.
        • Limited flexibility: This method is less flexible compared to other attendance tracking methods, as it requires employees to be physically present to punch in and out.

        2. Swipe card system

        Another common time tracking tool includes employees a swipe card system which is a technology used to authenticate the identity of an individual using a card that contains a magnetic stripe. The system works by swiping the card through a card reader, which reads the information stored in the magnetic stripe and verifies the identity of the user.

        Pros of this method

        • Enhanced security: A swipe card system can be used to restrict access to certain areas of a building, ensuring that only authorized personnel are able to enter.

        • Convenience: Swipe card systems are easy to use and can quickly verify the identity of a user, which is especially useful in busy environments such as workplaces or schools.

        • Time tracking: Swipe card systems can be used to track employee time and attendance, which can help organizations to ensure that employees are working the required hours.

        • Cost-effective: Compared to other security systems, swipe card systems are relatively inexpensive to install and maintain.

        Cons of this method

          • Vulnerability to fraud: Magnetic stripe cards can be copied or manipulated, which can result in unauthorized access to secure areas.
          • Reliability issues: Swipe card systems can be affected by electromagnetic interference or physical damage to the magnetic stripe, which can result in a loss of functionality.
            • Limited functionality: Swipe card systems may not be suitable for all security applications, such as those that require a higher level of security or biometric identification.

                3. Paper timesheets or spreadsheets

                Privacy concerns: The use of swipe cards can raise privacy concerns, as personal information may be stored on the card or in a database linked to the system.

                Paper timesheets and spreadsheets are two common methods of tracking employee work hours and attendance.

                Pros of this method

                • Inexpensive: Paper timesheets are a cost-effective way to track employee work hours.

                • Customizable: Paper timesheets can be customized to meet the specific needs of an organization.

                • Easy to understand: Paper timesheets are easy to understand for both employees and employers.

                • Low-tech: Paper timesheets do not require any special equipment or software, making them an accessible option for small businesses.

                Cons of this method

                  • Time-consuming: It can be time-consuming to manually calculate employee hours and verify the accuracy of paper timesheets.
                  • Prone to errors: Paper timesheets are vulnerable to errors, such as incorrect entries or incomplete information.
                    • Limited functionality: Paper timesheets may not provide the same level of functionality as other attendance tracking methods, such as digital systems.
                      • Security concerns: Paper timesheets are vulnerable to tampering or loss, which can raise security concerns.

                        4. Time tracking software

                        Many users state that the best way to keep track of hours worked is to use a digital solution for tracking employee work hours and attendance. It typically involves employees logging into a digital system, entering their work hours, and submitting them for review by their manager or supervisor.

                        Pros of this method

                        • Accuracy: Time tracking software can significantly reduce the risk of errors and inaccuracies that can occur with paper timesheets or spreadsheets.

                        • Convenience: Employees can log their work hours from anywhere with an internet connection, making time tracking more convenient and flexible.

                        • Automated tracking: Time tracking software can automatically track breaks, overtime, and other factors that impact employee pay.

                        • Reporting: Time tracking software can provide detailed reports on employee work hours, which can be useful for budgeting, planning, and forecasting.

                        Cons of this method

                          • Cost: Time tracking software can be more expensive than other methods of tracking employee work hours.
                          • Learning curve: Time tracking software may have a learning curve for employees and managers who are not familiar with the software.
                            • Technical issues: Technical issues can arise with time tracking software, such as server downtime or system crashes.
                            • Privacy concerns: Time tracking software may raise privacy concerns for employees who feel uncomfortable with their work hours being closely monitored

                            5. Biometric time tracking

                            Biometric time tracking involves using a person's unique physical characteristics to track their work hours and attendance. This can include using fingerprints, facial recognition, or iris scans to verify employee identity and record work hours.

                            Pros of this method

                            • Accurate: Biometric time tracking can provide highly accurate records of employee work hours and attendance.

                            • Efficient: Biometric time tracking can be faster and more efficient than other methods of tracking employee work hours, such as paper timesheets or manual entry into a digital system.

                            • Prevents fraud: Biometric time tracking can help prevent time theft or fraud, as it is more difficult for employees to manipulate their work hours or have someone else clock in for them.

                            • Easy to use: Biometric time tracking systems can be easy to use for both employees and managers.

                            Cons of this method

                            • Privacy concerns: Biometric time tracking can raise privacy concerns for employees, as their personal biometric data is being collected and stored.

                            • Technical issues: Biometric time tracking systems can have technical issues, such as faulty scans or malfunctioning equipment.

                            • Cost: Biometric time tracking systems can be more expensive than other methods of tracking employee work hours.

                            • Compliance issues: Some countries or regions may have strict regulations regarding the collection and storage of biometric data, which can make it difficult to implement biometric time tracking.

                            How to find an employee time keeping method that works best for your business

                            After understanding how to keep track of employees hours, choosing an employee time keeping method that you believe is the best way to track time for your business requires careful consideration of several factors. Here are some steps to help you find the right time tracking method for your business:

                            Consider why you actually need time tracking

                            Understanding the purpose of time tracking is crucial when choosing the most appropriate method to use. Time tracking can be necessary for a variety of reasons, such as payroll purposes, project management, or compliance with labor laws. Each of these reasons can have different requirements for how time is tracked and recorded.

                            • For example, if time tracking is mainly for payroll purposes, accuracy and efficiency are critical factors to consider. Using a reliable and accurate time tracking method, such as biometric time tracking or time tracking software, can ensure that employees are accurately paid for the time they work.

                            • On the other hand, if time tracking is primarily for project management, the focus may be more on the hours spent on specific tasks and projects, and how they align with project timelines and budgets. 

                            In this case, a time tracking system that allows for project-based tracking and reporting, such as time tracking software or spreadsheets, may be more appropriate.

                            • In some cases, time tracking may be necessary to comply with labor laws and regulations. For instance, some jurisdictions require employers to keep records of employee work hours to ensure that employees are being paid fairly and in compliance with labor laws.

                            In this case, a method that accurately records and documents employee work hours, such as biometric time tracking or time tracking software, may be essential.

                            Determine how much time and money you want to invest

                            When selecting a time tracking method, it is important to determine how much time and money you are willing to invest in the system. The costs associated with each method can vary significantly, and it is important to consider both hardware and software costs, as well as personnel costs and ongoing maintenance expenses.

                            • For example, biometric time tracking systems can be relatively expensive, as they require specialized hardware such as fingerprint scanners, facial recognition cameras, or iris scanners. 

                            Additionally, they may require ongoing maintenance and support costs, such as software updates or hardware repairs. Time tracking software, on the other hand, may be more affordable, as it can be implemented on existing hardware and does not require specialized equipment. However, the cost of software licenses and ongoing support may add up over time.

                            • It is also important to consider personnel costs when evaluating time tracking methods. Some systems may require additional personnel to manage and maintain the system, such as IT staff or administrators. 

                            Additionally, some systems may require additional training or support for employees, which can take time and resources.

                            • Finally, it is important to consider how much time and effort you and your team are willing to invest in implementing and managing the time tracking system. Some systems may be relatively easy to implement and require minimal ongoing management, while others may be more complex and require more significant investment in time and resources.

                            Consider which method will be the easiest to incorporate in your company/team

                            When selecting a time tracking method, it is important to consider the ease of implementation and adoption within your organization or team. This includes the level of technical expertise required for each method, as well as the ease of use and understandability of the system.

                            • If your team is not tech-savvy, choosing a system that is intuitive and easy to use can be critical to ensure successful adoption. This may include systems with simple user interfaces or mobile apps that are easy to navigate. 

                            Similarly, if you have a large team, a system that is easy to understand and use can help ensure consistent and accurate time tracking across the organization.

                            • In addition, it is important to consider the size and structure of your team when selecting a time tracking method. For example, if you have a team that is largely remote or distributed across different locations, a cloud-based time tracking system that can be accessed from anywhere may be more suitable. 

                            Alternatively, if your team works primarily in a single location, a physical time clock or biometric system installed on-site may be more practical.

                            • It is also important to consider the level of technical expertise required for each method. Some time tracking methods may require specialized hardware or software, as well as IT support to implement and maintain. If your team does not have the technical expertise to manage these systems, it may be more practical to choose a simpler system that requires minimal technical expertise. 

                            Evaluate the features and functionality of each method

                            When selecting a time tracking method, it is important to evaluate the benefits of time tracking solutions, their features and functionality to ensure that they meet your specific needs. This includes looking for features that can help improve accuracy, streamline payroll and billing, and enhance overall productivity and efficiency.

                            • For example, if you need to track overtime hours, you may want to choose a time tracking method that includes built-in overtime tracking features or allows for customization of overtime rules. 

                            Similarly, if you need to generate reports on hours worked or other time-related data, look for a system that offers robust reporting capabilities or integrates with other reporting tools.

                            • In addition, it is important to consider the ease of use and compatibility with your existing systems when selecting a time tracking method. If you already have payroll or project management software in place, look for a time tracking method that integrates seamlessly with these systems. 

                            This can help reduce the need for manual data entry and streamline processes across your organization.

                            • Other features to consider may include mobile access, automatic time clocking, geolocation tracking, and employee scheduling tools. By carefully evaluating the features and functionality of each time tracking method, you can select a system that meets your specific needs and helps improve accuracy and efficiency across your organization.

                            Test the method before implementing it:

                            Testing a time tracking method before implementing it is an important step to ensure that it is effective and well-suited for your business. This allows you to identify any issues or areas for improvement and gather feedback from your team, helping to ensure a smoother and more successful implementation.

                            • To run a trial period, start by selecting a small group of employees to test the time tracking method. This can help you identify any issues or challenges that may arise and give you an opportunity to make adjustments before rolling out the system to the entire team.

                            • During the trial period, be sure to collect feedback from your team to identify any issues or areas for improvement. This can be done through surveys, one-on-one discussions, or focus groups. Be sure to address any concerns or suggestions that arise, and use this feedback to make adjustments and improvements to the system as needed.

                            • Once you have completed the trial period and made any necessary adjustments, be sure to communicate the changes to the entire team and provide training and support as needed to ensure successful adoption of the system.

                            Get the Atto App and track your employees’ time easily

                            Explore the possibilities of incorporating the Atto software for time tracking in your organization and take a step towards streamlining your work processes. Discover more about the app by browsing our website or get in touch with us for further assistance. Don't miss out on the opportunity to elevate your company's productivity and efficiency.

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