5 Best Employee Clock-In Systems in 2024

5 Best Employee Clock-in Systems in 2023

When looking for the best employee clock-in systems, you have a choice to make.

You can either choose an online employee clock-in system or a more traditional electronic, physical clock in system.

For most businesses, an online employee clock-in system is the better choice, because:

  • Online employee clock-in systems are easy to set up. They’re web-based, so you don’t need to troubleshoot with unfamiliar hardware or wait to get parts shipped to you. Online employee clock in software can be used on smartphones, tablets, and computers.
  • Online employee clock-in systems are flexible. Because your team can clock in via a mobile app, they can clock in across multiple job sites, when they’re working from home, or when they’re traveling on the job. In the sections below, we cover how online clock in systems use advanced measures (such as geofencing and IP address locking) to make sure your employees are clocking in accurately and honestly — giving you peace of mind and accurate time tracking records.
  • Online employee clock-in systems are customizable. As we cover in more detail below, you can configure your clock-in system to require a photo every time someone clocks in or set up punch in/punch out rules (such as how early someone can clock in for their shift).
  • Online employee clock-in systems streamline time tracking, PTO tracking, and payroll. This way, you’re not dealing with multiple platforms or logins. You can use the same software to handle all aspects of time management and payroll.

To show you how these features can greatly benefit your business, we cover Buddy Punch, our online employee clock-in system, below.

And to make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed choice, we also cover 4 alternatives — including two traditional electronic clock in systems — just in case an online system isn’t what you’re looking for.

5 Best Employee Clock-In Systems

  1. Buddy Punch
  2. QuickBooks Time
  3. OnTheClock
  4. Lathem Time Clocks (not cloud-based)
  5. Paychex (not cloud-based)

1. Buddy Punch 

Buddy Punch’s Employee Clock in System

Buddy Punch is an online employee clock-in system that is easy to set up. It accurately tracks employee shifts and PTO, and it can also be used for payroll.

First, employees can use a smartphone, tablet, or computer to punch in and out for work. This is perfect for companies with multi-job sites, traveling employees, or remote employees. It’s also great because you don’t need to have a long line of employees waiting to clock in at one designated station.

A quick FYI: With Buddy Punch, you can also set up a dedicated clock in kiosk and have your team clock in and clock out from that one station. You’d just choose one computer or tablet to be the kiosk.

Through the Buddy Punch dashboard, you can view or edit an employee’s timesheet (updated in real time). For example, let’s say an employee forgets to clock-in one morning, you can manually enter that punch for them. This way you can solve any timesheet issues before they get to payroll.

How to Edit Time Cards in Buddy Punch

Buddy Punch helps keep accurate time records by letting you set up advanced clock in and clock out features. This helps to prevent time clock mistakes, buddy punching, and other forms of time theft.

For example, you can set up GPS tracking (so employees can only clock in when they’re in the right GPS location), or you can set up Photos on Punch (team members submit a photo every time they clock in and out). We go over these advanced features in the sections below.

Buddy Punch keeps an accurate record of any time worked and any PTO taken. You can access this information via your dashboard, and create shareable reports. You can also run payroll directly from Buddy Punch, where you can review everyone’s timecards, add any additional earnings, and pay your employees by direct deposit or check.  

Export payroll reports from Buddy Punch

If you want to learn more about Buddy Punch as an employee clock-in system, sign up for a free 14-day trial. You can also schedule a one-on-one demo where we walk through how Buddy Punch will help your business keep accurate time records.

Below, we cover Buddy Punch’s features in more detail, along with a few alternatives.

Keep Your Employee Time Records Accurate

In this section, we delve into some of Buddy Punch’s customizable features that can be used to increase employee accountability (i.e., make sure people are clocking in and out accurately and honestly).

Note: All of these features are turned off by default and can be used as needed.


Buddy Punch’s geofencing feature

Geofencing is one option for increasing employee accountability with Buddy Punch’s system.

Utilizing the online functionality of the software, you can create a geofence (or geographical radius), to limit where employees can clock in (say, 500 feet from your business location).

If an employee were to attempt to punch in outside of the set geofence, they’d receive an error message and be prompted to try again at the correct location.

Get accurate time records with geofencing

Geofencing ensures that employees clock in when they actually arrive at work, ultimately mitigating time theft and increasing honesty. It can also alert a team member if they’ve accidentally shown up at the wrong job site due to misreading the schedule.

You can set multiple geofences, if desired, which could be beneficial if your particular business utilizes more than one punch in and out location.

IP Address Locking

Improve employee accountability with IP address locking

IP address locking limits punches to a particular device or network address.

If you have a workspace WiFi network, you can use this feature to require employees to be connected to said network before being able to punch in and out.

Similarly, if you use a central device such as a company tablet, you can make sure your team only clocks in and out from that one device.

Photos on Punch

Prevent buddy punching with photos on punch

Buddy Punch adds an extra layer of security and accountability with Photos on Punch.

To verify that employees are punching in for themselves, you can require that they upload a photo every time they clock-in.

These photos are easily reviewed by administrators within your dashboard:

Review who punches in

Learn more about how biometric and facial recognition software helps with attendance.

See All of Buddy Punch’s Accountability Features

Buddy Punch offers several other accountability features that you might find helpful, such as:

You can see a full list of our features here, or try them out for yourself with a free trial.

Using Buddy Punch for Payroll

In addition to providing an online system with a variety of accountability features, Buddy Punch can also help you run payroll. You can either use Buddy Punch as your payroll software, or set up Buddy Punch to work in tandem with your current payroll system.

Buddy Punch’s employee clock in system is also payroll software

Buddy Punch has a built-in online payroll system, saving you valuable time and money by integrating time tracking and payroll features into one centralized application.

Here’s a bird’s eye view of how you can use Buddy Punch for payroll:

Step 1: Log on to Buddy Punch and access the payroll dashboard. Here, you’ll verify all pertinent payroll information (work hours, time off, pay, preferred payment method, and more).  

You can easily make payroll changes, such as adding additional earnings to someone’s pay. (For example, reimbursing an employee’s expenses for a work trip.)

Buddy Punch’s payroll summary

Step 2: File your payroll by hitting “Submit Payroll” and allow Buddy Punch to do the rest. This includes sending out direct deposits to employees, providing them with on-demand pay stubs, as well as filing your state and federal taxes.

Note: Click here to see a comprehensive list of what our payroll has to offer.

If you prefer to stick to your current payroll system, Buddy Punch offers 3rd-party payroll integration, and you can always export payroll reports out of Buddy Punch as a .csv file.

Payroll Provider Integrations

Buddy Punch’s payroll integrations

With Buddy Punch’s payroll provider integrations, there’s no need to manually transfer data to a third party provider.

We offer payroll integrations with:

Payroll Reports On-Demand

Buddy Punch’s payroll reports as an Excel file

As we mentioned above, Buddy Punch will automatically calculate employee hours, time off, and more through the online clock-in system, and you can access this information at any time via on-demand PDF or excel reports. This saves you valuable time when compared to a physical system that requires additional software and manual data entry.

Time-off Tracking

Buddy Punch’s is also a PTO tracker

Time off tracking is easily handled within Buddy Punch. Employees simply put in a time off request using the dashboard, and administrators can choose to review and approve these.

Paid and unpaid time off information is then automatically tracked and available as on-demand reports in your preferred format.

See a detailed list of these time off features here.


Set up accrual rules for your team’s PTO

Similar to time off tracking, accrual rules are easily established within our system. To get a better sense of how this works, check out this help doc article or watch our demo video.

Full Guide to Buddy Punch’s Features

Buddy Punch is a multipurpose tool that provides an online employee clock-in system, time tracking, and payroll.

View a complete list of all of our features here, which includes:

Buddy Punch Reviews

Buddy Punch’s employee clock in system’s reviews

As of this writing, Buddy Punch has 4.8 stars on Capterra (a popular review site), with 800+ reviews.

Below are several reviews that showcase Buddy Punch’s ease of use and excellent customer service:

“Most folks pick up on it right away. The system is intuitive and those who do have difficulty only need a quick tutorial and they are good to go.”

Click here to read the full review.

“Minimal training for end users (employees or managers). The back end (admin) features are just as simple and intuitive. We wanted a product that was simple to use, cost friendly and allowed us to customize — all of these areas were met. Very impressed!”

Click here to read the full review.

“The area I am most impressed with is with their support — they respond quickly, accurately and offer real solutions.”

Click here to read the full review.

“We signed up for the trial period, and our employees were impressed immediately. They were able to start… immediately with zero training or assistance, which was a priority for us. The system is also very easy to use from an administrator end.”

Click here to read the full review.

“The team is responsive, and eager to assist. Any questions we’ve had, whether using the free trial, or after we signed up as a customer, have been answered quickly”.

Click here to read the full review.

“Their team is knowledgeable about my organization and the way that we use the platform — I have received many helpful suggestions to how we can best leverage the Buddy Punch platform in our sometimes complicated organizational structure. We have had very few issues, but have always received immediate resolutions when anything has come up.”

Click here to read the full review.

“The software is straightforward and well-run, and was easily understood by our team of 55+ non-technical staff of all ages.”

Click here to read the full review.

Click here to see the full list of Buddy Punch’s Capterra reviews.

Try Out Buddy Punch for Yourself

See how Buddy Punch’s online employee clock-in system can work for your particular business by signing up for a free trial or requesting a one-on-one demo call.

You can also visit our site and watch this pre-recorded video.

2. QuickBooks Time

QuickBooks Time is another great option for an online employee clock-in system (with a variety of useful features).

QuickBooks Time offers both mobile and desktop time tracking, customizable reports on-demand, scheduling, and employee management features, such as geofencing. Check out a comprehensive list of all their features here.

Currently, QuickBooks Time has 4.7 stars on Capterra with 6200+ reviews.

Here’s what one reviewer had to say:

“I’m very happy with the quality, accuracy, and smooth integration with QuickBooks Online Tsheets, which imported all of my projects (jobs) and allowed me to track time accurately for each job while saving me time.”

Click here to read the full review.

3. OnTheClock

OnTheClock is yet another alternative in terms of online employee clock-in systems. It offers various punch options through a preferred device, along with security features like fingerprint recognition and GPS. You can also use it to track regular employee hours and time off, as well as create scheduled shifts. Read more about OnTheClock’s features on their website.

Currently, OnTheClock has 4.7 stars on Capterra with 500+ reviews.

Here’s what one customer had to say:

“OnTheClock allows us to easily track punches across all employees and locations, even remote employees who work from home. It also ensures quick, easy, and accurate punches from employees…”

Click here to read the full review.

If you want to learn more about web-based time clocks, check out these posts:

In the following section, we cover traditional time clocks.

4. Lathem Time Clocks (Traditional, Electronic Time Clock)

The first physical employee clock-in system we’ll cover is Lathem. They offer a wide assortment of physical time clocks that vary in their features and functionality.

Here’s a brief overview of some of their time clock options:

7500E Calculating Atomic Time Clock

500E Calculating Atomic Time Clock

The 7500E Calculating Atomic Time Clock:

  • Calculates actual or rounded employee time
  • Tracks total hours worked
  • Adjusts print-alignment
  • Transfers card totals to another time card card
  • And more

400E Electronic Time Clock

Top-Feed Electronic Time Card Clock

The Top-Feed Electronic Time Card Clock:

  • Prints time and date with each punch
  • Supports a variety of pay periods (including weekly, biweekly, and monthly)
  • Prints early or late punches in red (optional)
  • Adjusts system to automatically print time in, time out, or break columns based on time of day (optional)
  • And more

2100HD Heavy Duty Thermal Print Time Clock

Heavy Duty Thermal Print Time Clock

The Heavy Duty Thermal Print Time Clock:

  • Has patented technology that requires minimal set up (while being low maintenance)
  • Prints time and date in a variety of formats
  • Can withstand harsh outdoor conditions (due to its heavy duty construction)
  • And more

Currently, Lathem does not have any reviews on Capterra, but you can see a comprehensive description of all of their time clock options on their website. Linked above is a demo video of their 400E time clock model, and you can see more of their videos here.

5. Paychex (Traditional, Electronic Time Clock)

Paychex is another great choice for a physical employee clock-in system. It offers a physical time clock which includes a proximity card and number keypad for employees to punch in. Their time clock system also offers additional security through iris (eye) recognition and fingerprint scanning, as well as offline punch functionality. You can also sync clock data to a third-party HR or payroll system, which you would need to pay for separately.

Currently, Paychex’s physical time clock does not have any reviews on Capterra, but you can see a full description of their system on their website.

If you want to learn more about traditional, electronic time clocks, check out our post on the best onsite/on-premise time clock software.

Try Out Buddy Punch for Yourself

See how Buddy Punch’s online employee clock-in system can work for your particular business by signing up for a free trial or requesting a one-on-one demo call.

You can also visit our site and watch this pre-recorded video to learn more.

For more articles about clock in systems and time management, check out:

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