Types of Employee Monitoring Software and How to Use Them Effectively

Types of Employee Monitoring Software and How to Use Them Effectively

When you’re looking for the best employee monitoring software, you want to filter out the type of tracking and monitoring you don’t need. There are all types of employee monitoring software — from time tracking and location tracking to more “stealth” user activity monitoring offered by platforms like ActivTrak and Teramind, which can include video recording and keystroke logging.

But just because something can be tracked doesn’t mean it should be. You want to track what is valuable and productive to your business — metrics which help operations run more smoothly and save you time and money, while still fostering a positive company culture.

In fact, invasive surveillance and monitoring of non-essential metrics can undercut employee morale and even waste resources, resulting in counterproductive effects. 

Here’s an easy example: If employees who regularly complete their workload and meet deadlines are nevertheless subjected to intrusive productivity monitoring that docks points because they’re not meeting an arbitrary threshold of mouse and keyboard usage, many will end up gaming the system. The end result is inflated apparent productivity at the cost of getting things done.

But proper employee tracking can be a huge asset to a business. Employee monitoring can prevent all types of time theft — from employees mis-reporting on their timesheets to mis-reporting their whereabouts during their shift.

The most successful use cases for employee monitoring tools tend to be specific. When implemented with full employee knowledge and consent, these can include:

  • Time and attendance tracking. Software solutions for clocking in and out, in addition to reducing human error, allow both employees and employers to have an accurate record of hours worked. Downstream, this also tends to reduce payroll errors, saving time and money for employers and ensuring employees receive fair compensation.
  • GPS tracking. For companies with field workers, delivery drivers, or other mobile employees, GPS tracking improves accountability on both ends, creating a record that employees were at their work sites or on their routes when they were supposed to be. It can also be a safety tool, providing additional location data beyond check-ins with workers in case of emergency.
  • Employee-side activity tracking and productivity monitoring. Rather than using productivity and activity trackers punitively, give your team members control over employee activity and productivity monitoring tools. That way they can determine whether they need to change their habits to better meet team productivity goals.

In this article, we’ll go over the best employee monitoring software for addressing these use cases. We’ll begin with our software Buddy Punch, which can handle time, attendance, and GPS tracking. Afterward, we’ll cover our picks for tracking mileage and employee productivity.

Buddy Punch: Best Employee Tracking for Small Businesses

Buddy Punch dashboard interface

Buddy Punch is a cloud-based time tracking software with flexible pricing options that includes attendance, GPS, and other time tracking features. Most of its functionality is enabled by its robust virtual time clock, which is compatible with Microsoft Windows, Mac, Apple, and Android devices. Employees can clock in and out from their own devices, automatically generating easily viewable and correctable timesheets.

  • GPS monitoring lets you get live location updates, view where your employees are punching in from, set up geofences, and customize location settings for different employees.

  • Attendance tracking is enhanced by Buddy Punch’s scheduling features, which are rooted in an intuitive calendar-based interface. In addition to increasing transparency and communication around schedules, it enables you to have employees automatically punch out at the end of their shifts.

Buddy Punch also has features that make payroll easier, but we’ll start by explaining the time tracking features in greater depth.

To learn more about Buddy Punch, you can:

Accountable Time Tracking

Most employers think of time tracking software as a way to deter or eliminate time theft. While this is certainly true, it overlooks two key points: most time theft is either non-malicious or unintentional rather than being driven by insider threats, and wage theft is a much bigger problem than time theft. Therefore, overly onerous or punitive forms of employee time monitoring tend to alienate employees, and the resulting drop in morale can have negative effects ranging from burnout and high turnover rates to deliberate time theft.

Buddy Punch works to help against all types of time theft, accidental and malicious. Our software includes a user-friendly virtual time clock that’s compatible with most devices (including smartphones, tablets, and computers). 

Whenever employees log in and out, it generates time cards that are viewable by both employers and employees, ensuring transparency and mutual accountability with regards to hours worked. 

The employee self-service portal also lets employees keep track of things like paid time off (PTO), which we’ll discuss in a later section. As for deliberate forms of time theft, Buddy Punch also offers tools like the facial recognition feature.

Facial Recognition

Face recognized - Status: Punch-In

When workers are running late, their coworkers may try to do them a favor by clocking them in. While well-intentioned, this is a form of time theft called buddy punching.

Employers can enable the Photos on Punch feature to require employees to take a picture of themselves whenever they clock in. The picture is automatically compared to the one on file, and if facial verification fails, so does the login attempt. This prevents buddy punching by both on-premises and remote workers.

Automatic Breaks

Automatic Break Rule

Whether they run personal errands or scroll social media, employees need breaks. Not only are a certain number of breaks likely legally required, people become less productive without time to focus on something other than work. The problem is when break time is credited as hours worked, such as when employees forget to clock out for lunch. This is a common type of time theft, where people take breaks but don’t log them.

Buddy Punch lets you automate when employees receive breaks. For example, you can set up half-hour lunch breaks that go into effect once any employee has worked four hours, or you can create custom breaks for specific employees or departments. 

Regardless of the type of break, once you set up the automatic break rules, Buddy Punch will implement it, ensuring that both employees and employers can differentiate between work time and break time.

Paid Time Off (PTO)

Upcoming Request: Request Time Off example

In addition to tracking work hours, Buddy Punch can track PTO. Employers can set up multiple times of leave, designate it as either paid or unpaid leave, and customize how quickly it accrues for different employees, departments, and positions. Once this feature has been set up, PTO will automatically be calculated based on hours worked, and employees can check their balance and request leave within their self-service portal. 

In addition to making PTO easier to handle, this increases transparency and enables employers to easily differentiate between paid and unpaid leave, reducing the odds of time theft.


Overtime Alert

One form of unintentional time theft is unauthorized overtime. Whether employees work overtime to meet a tight deadline or simply lose track of time, they must be compensated at higher rates, leading to unexpected labor costs. 

If you set up overtime alerts, Buddy Punch will notify workers and their managers whenever they’re nearing overtime. This gives employees the chance to log out and lets managers adjust workloads and schedules accordingly. In situations where overtime is authorized or unavoidable, Buddy Punch also keeps track of it, ensuring that employees receive the correct wage for the extra hours they put in.

GPS Monitoring

Time Card Map example: Joe Hodgins

If GPS monitoring options are enabled, Buddy Punch uses the device’s built-in GPS to collect and record location data when workers clock in. To preserve employees’ privacy, the GPS features are only active while employees are clocked in. Those features include live location updates, punch locations, and geofencing.

Live Location Updates

Live Location: Alex Wizard

Whether your employees have multiple work sites or are driving a delivery route, Buddy Punch lets you get live updates about their locations. This can be used to increase accountability and safety. The map-based interface lets you track multiple employees at once, whether they’re moving as a team or as individuals.

View Punch-Ins

Type, Time, Device: Punch In and Punch Out

If employees clock in despite not being at work, that’s a form of time theft. One way Buddy Punch combats this is by recording location data when workers punch in and out. This lets you verify that employees are punching in from their work locations.


Geofencing Radius and Geofencing Address

If you want to be more proactive about ensuring employees are punching in from their work site, you can use the geofencing feature. This feature lets you require that employees be within a certain distance of their work site before they log in. If they aren’t, Buddy Punch will give them an error message, prompting them to wait until they’re within the geofence. 

Since you can set up geofences for multiple locations, this is also viable for companies with multiple work sites.

Customize Settings by Employee

GPS Setting: Allow GPS Tracking

Sometimes GPS monitoring is only necessary for a subset of employees, such as delivery drivers or workers who rotate between multiple sites. Alternatively, there may be employees you want to exclude, such as remote teams who work from home. Buddy Punch lets you customize which employees GPS monitoring features are enabled for. That way, you can monitor the workers you need to without compromising the privacy of workers whose location is irrelevant.


Schedule Interface: Start Date, End Date

In order to monitor employees’ attendance, it helps to know when they’re supposed to be working in the first place. Plus, it’s extremely convenient for employees (and employers) to have a place to check on scheduling in real-time. Both points can be addressed via Buddy Punch’s scheduling features.

Buddy Punch offers tools for user-friendly schedule creation, and also has built-in tools like automatic end-of-shift punch-outs and a shift trading feature, which makes it easier for employees to take responsibility for their assigned hours.

Drag-and-Drop Scheduling

Drag-and-Drop scheduling

Buddy Punch uses drag-and-drop scheduling software. Employers can use these to quickly make schedule templates with customizable fields like shift duration, location, and employee position. These templates can be duplicated and customized as needed so employers don’t have to start from scratch every time.

Viewable Schedules and Alerts

When a manager finalizes a schedule, it gets sent out to employees via email or push notifications. Employees can also log in to their self-service portal to view their hours, reducing confusion about who’s supposed to be working when.

Automatic Punch-Outs

Automatically punch an employee out after a certain amount of time

If employees have trouble remembering to clock out at the end of their shift, you can enable the automatic punch-out feature. Based on your desired settings, employees will get clocked out at the end of the workday, reducing accidental time theft.

Shift Trading

Trade Request

Buddy Punch’s shift trading feature lets employees easily trade shifts and then sends an alert to the manager to let them know of the change. This way everyone stays informed about who’s working when, reducing unintentional time theft and increasing accountability and transparency.


Payroll: Run Report, Import time into payroll

Buddy Punch’s employee monitoring capabilities makes payroll easier. Buddy Punch can integrate with leading payroll providers like Gusto, ADP, and QuickBooks. It also has a built-in payroll option that lets you calculate wages directly from time cards. It can even handle:

  • Direct Deposit. Employees can set up payment methods via their self-service portal, including direct deposit.
  • Taxes. Buddy Punch automatically calculates and files local, state, and federal taxes.
  • Additional Expenses. Buddy Punch can track expenses such as mileage, reimbursements, bonuses, and cash tips.

Buddy Punch has a 4.8/5 star rating based on over 900 reviews on review site Capterra. For more info on Buddy Punch, visit our site or request a demo.

Next up, we look at 2 other types of employee monitoring software — one for mileage tracking and one focused on activity and productivity monitoring. You can use Buddy Punch in tandem with either of these options, as Buddy Punch focuses on time tracking and scheduling.

Employee Monitoring Software for Mileage Tracking: Timeero

Timeero homepage: GPS Time Tracking & Mileage Tracking for Employees

If your main concern is tracking mileage, Timeero is an attractive employee monitoring solution. In addition to GPS tracking features like real-time location monitoring, out-of-bounds alerts, and location timestamps, Timeero can generate mileage reports that include routes and travel speeds. It also has a segmented tracking feature, allowing employers to analyze and optimize daily activities without forcing employees to disrupt their workflows and increase human error by repeatedly clocking in and out.

Its Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) system is also uniquely suited to home care workers; it collects the date, time, and location of caregiver visits as part of a larger regulatory effort to combat fraud, neglect, and billing errors. The system also helps caregivers with task management, letting them keep track of their often crowded caseloads.

In addition to its GPS-based features, Timeero can handle scheduling and track time. Accountability tools for time tracking include facial recognition. Like Buddy Punch, it can also handle time off tracking. Finally, it also offers a break tracker intended to help employers comply with California Meal Break & Rest Break Law, including reports and daily employee signatures.

Employee Monitoring Software for Activity and Productivity Monitoring: Hubstaff

Hubstaff homepage: Driving productivity for work teams everywhere

Hubstaff is a multi-purpose employee platform that can handle time tracking, employee experience, detailed reports, and workforce management, with the employee experience tools being the main area that sets it apart from Buddy Punch. Its habit tracker app lets employees determine how long they spend on different activities, letting them identify possible barriers to productivity. Similarly, it has tools designed to measure and enhance the remote work experience. 

It also has more conventional productivity monitoring tools that let employers choose which metrics to prioritize, and a rewards system for employee performance. It also offers a suite of tools to preserve employee privacy, including the ability to blur or hide screenshots, the choice of whether to track apps and URLs, the option to hide employee computer activity like keystrokes and mouse movement, and the ability to turn off location monitoring.

As mentioned above, Hubstaff offers time tracking options, including geofencing and an overtime tracker. It also has both employee and meeting scheduling tools. The workforce management category includes features like work order management, online invoicing, and a payroll tracker. Finally, in addition to offering productivity reports, Hubstaff also provides a project cost management feature, which is extremely useful for project management.

Next Steps: Choose the Right Employee Monitoring Tactics for Your Business

In this post, we discussed how to effectively use employee monitoring methods. In short, you want to monitor and track metrics that are critical to your business and help your employees be more productive, without resulting in invasive monitoring that doesn’t serve an overall purpose.

We then provided three different types of employee monitoring software:

You can use Buddy Punch to prevent all types of time theft, such as someone forgetting to log their break or someone trying to have a co-worker clock in for them. Buddy Punch also helps with employee location tracking, scheduling, and paid time off. 

You can start your free trial today.