Your workforce is your greatest asset and can give you an advantage over your competition. Employees are the backbone of your company, and the time they spend working is as valuable to them as it is to you.

Tracking this time is essential. It is not only vital to your business to ensure your employees are showing up for their shifts, but it’s also crucial as it helps you meet your bottom line.

Easy enough, right? Time and attendance tracking is as easy as investing in a punch-in and punch-out system – or so you might think!

The truth is, it’s not always as simple as it sounds. Employees may be late, forget to punch in or ask a coworker to punch in or out for them. New hires have to get used to a new time and attendance policy. Employee turnover can leave timesheets unfinished and can pile up as their supervisor scrambles to keep stuff on track.

New time and attendance tracking can leave you with a huge human resources headache, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Software solutions, such as Buddy Punch, were created to make time and attendance tracking as easy as possible. To help you with your time tracking journey, we’ve put together this guide. Here’s a glimpse into what we’ll cover:

  • Ease of Use: Your time and attendance tracking system should be easy to implement and easy to use – by both you and your employees.
  • Accurate: You will want a system that you can depend on to provide you with accurate time records and payroll information. 
  • Affordable: Your system should fit well within your budget and not break the bank. Luckily, there are plenty of solutions available.
  • Flexible: Invest in a system that can meet your time tracking needs, which can include tracking PTO, break times, and even employees scheduling.
  • Integrations: A system that integrates with software you already use, such as payroll or scheduling software, is essential to make the process as seamless as possible.
  • Alerts: You will need a system that lets you keep tabs on what your employees are doing – such as punching in early, nearing overtime or missing work altogether.
  • Compliance: Your time and attendance tracking system should be FLSA compliant – meaning it should store your time card information in the event of an audit or investigation.

When you reach the end of this guide, you should be fully prepared to choose a time and attendance system that meets the needs of your business and makes your life – along with your employees lives – much easier.

Man swiping card to punch in to digital time clock.
Time and attendance tracking systems can help you improve your business operations by as reducing labor costs and human errors

What is a time and attendance system?

Time and attendance systems are meant to help you track the hours your employees work. They can help you keep track of and record when employees arrive early or late, when they go on break, if they go into overtime and if they missed work altogether.

There are many different types of time and attendance tracking systems – this includes traditional paper and pencil methods, digital time tracking, punch clocks, and software solutions. Each system has its advantages and disadvantages, which we will cover in detail in this guide.

Why should you invest in a time and attendance system?

Your hourly employees are paid for the work they do, which makes it necessary for you to understand precisely how many hours they are working and how it impacts your business.

Every business owner knows that there are several factors, whether intentional or unintentional, that can impact accurate time and attendance tracking. That’s where an automated time and attendance system like Buddy Punch can be useful.

Here are some reasons why your business needs a time tracking system.

Minimize Your Labor Costs

The way that you track time and attendance will directly impact your payroll. If your records are compromised or inaccurate, your labor costs are likely much higher than they should be. By using a time and attendance tracking system, you can ensure that your time tracking records are accurate and pay your employees for their time worked – not just their time scheduled.

Solutions like Buddy Punch can show you how much time was spent on a particular job and give you valuable insight into employee activity as well as business operations. You can use this data to make informed business decisions and potential improvements.

Reduce Human Error

Humans make errors – it’s an inevitable part of life. Employees might forget to punch in or out, accidentally enter the wrong shift time or completely neglect to record their hours worked all together. A time and attendance system can help to reduce these errors without having to micromanage your employees.

Additionally, these systems can help to prevent time theft. Time theft occurs when an employee accepts payment from an employer for work they haven’t done or for time they haven’t worked. Buddy punching is a common form of time theft, which is when one employee records hours for another. Buddy punching costs business owners nearly $400 million every year.

Investing in a time and attendance tracking system allows you to correct both intentional and unintentional human errors and can help to ensure your records are accurate.

Provide Invaluable Business Insight

Your employee’s paychecks, schedules, and hours worked impact many important managerial and operational decisions. A time and attendance tracking system can provide your organization with real-time, accurate data so that you can make informed decisions much quicker. For example, you can determine how you are spending your budget and whether or not you need to expand your team.

These systems can also let your managers know how their employees are spending each minute at work, and all that time spent may be affecting your business’s bottom line.

By using a time and attendance tracking system, you can prevent and avoid a lot of mistakes and inaccuracies.

Empower and Engage Your Team

Employees will inevitably make mistakes when they record their hours. However, no one likes to be micromanaged or deal with a clunky out-of-date time tracking process. Time and attendance systems allow employees to manage their time cards easily and gives managers confidence that their team’s information is accurate.

Systems like Buddy Punch allow employees to check their daily, weekly, and even monthly hours worked, view their vacation balances and also request PTO when needed. This encourages employees to become more engaged with their day-to-day responsibilities and job.

Now we’ll cover the different time and attendance solutions available.

Woman holding time clock in front of face.
Time and attendance tracking systems have improved greatly over the past decade. There are many options available, so it’s important to find the best solution to meet your business needs.

Time and Attendance Options

There are several different time and attendance tracking solutions to choose from. Do your research to ensure you find the best option for your business.

Considering that there are so many different types of time and attendance tracking options available, it can be challenging to decide which one is best for your business. It can also be quite difficult to introduce a new system to your company and employees.

As we mentioned earlier, there are several different factors you should take into consideration when searching for the best time and attendance tracking solution for your business. This includes the following:

  • Ease of Use: Your time and attendance tracking system should be easy to implement and easy to use – by both you and your employees.
  • Accurate: You will want a system that you can depend on to provide you with correct time records and payroll information. 
  • Affordable: Your system should fit well within your budget and not break the bank. Luckily, there are plenty of solutions available.
  • Flexible: Invest in a system that can meet your time tracking needs, which can include tracking PTO, break times, and even employees scheduling.
  • Integrations: A system that integrates with software you already use, such as payroll or scheduling software, is essential to make the process as seamless as possible.
  • Alerts: You will need a system that lets you keep tabs on what your employees are doing – such as punching in early, nearing overtime or missing work altogether.
  • Compliance: Your time and attendance tracking system should be FLSA compliant – meaning it should store your time card information in the event of an audit or investigation.

Only one option we’ll cover below offers all the features listed above, which would be the time and attendance tracking software. While the other methods are viable options, you will have to decide what’s best for your business.

Traditional Pen and Paper Time Tracking

Pen and paper time tracking requires you to manually track employees hours, time off, and overtime. It may be as simple as using a printed spreadsheet or a piece of paper on a clipboard.

Although this method is outdated in today’s digital work, some businesses still use it because the pen and paper method is easy to use and cheap – which is especially enticing for small businesses or startups.

However, this method does come with its own set of issues. Your employees can easily make an error or take advantage of this archaic system by intentionally jotting down the wrong punch times or having a co-worker punch in or out for them. Other factors, such as sloppy handwriting, can cause payroll inaccuracies or disputes, which can lead to legal problems and impact employee morale and productivity.

This type of manual tracking also makes it impossible to automate or digitize. You would be required to physically enter timesheet data into your payroll systems, and it also doesn’t help manage other essential aspects of time tracking such as scheduling or paid time off.

Digital Time Tracking

Digital time tracking is generally an employee self-service method that requires them to manually track their own time. Employees will need access to an Excel timesheet or another digital timesheet solution.

This option is similar to the traditional pen and paper tracking and that it is cheap and easy to adopt. It has significant advantages over pen and paper tracking in that it makes it much easier to calculate and process payroll. However, it is not without flaw. Buddy punching is eliminated because employees have to fill out their timesheets, however, there is still room for human error and intentional time adjustments.

Punch Clocks

Punch clocks are devices that record start and end times for hourly employees. These are mechanical time clocks which generally require an employee to have their time card physically stamped whenever they punch in or out.

Many businesses still use punch clocks today –  especially in construction and manufacturing where employees don’t often have contact with a computer.  For such companies, it is typically more convenient to keep a punch clock on-site or at a specific location.

While punch clocks are convenient and easy to implement, they come with their own set of drawbacks. Since they only require a punch card to punch in or out, they are easily susceptible to time theft such as buddy punching.

Punch clocks also tend to be more expensive in the long run. Not only do you have to worry about the cost of paper and other materials, but you must also be concerned with the cost of inaccurate time tracking and fraud.

Biometric Time Clocks

Biometric time clocks use a unique identifier, such as retinal scanning, facial recognition, or fingerprinting to punch employees in and out. This option helps to ensure that employees are only getting paid for the time that they work and not merely the time they are scheduled.

Biometric time clocks are generally used for many different reasons. Being that employees have to punch in with their fingerprint or face, this method can completely prevent buddy punching and other forms of time theft. They can also ensure payroll accuracy since employees are not having to manually enter their time.

Although this method is precise, it comes with a few pitfalls. One of the most significant drawbacks is that biometric time clocks are not legal in every state, so this option is not as widely used as other methods we cover. It is essential to consult with a lawyer before implementing a biometric time clock at your business.

Biometric time clocks can also be considered intrusive and lead employees to think that they are not trusted. You may have employees that want to protect their biometric data and hesitate to submit it well at work.

While it is vital to collect and record accurate time and attendance data, it is just as important to maintain a relationship of mutual trust with your employees, and to use this method may compromise that.

Time and Attendance Software

Time and attendance software is one of the newest forms of time tracking. Buddy Punch is an excellent example of these time and attendance apps and online-based solutions.

There are many advantages to using time and attendance software. Most solutions are flexible and easy to implement. They can be accessed by users from any device, including mobile devices, computers, and tablets. Employees can punch in or out using a variety of different methods including scanning a QR code and don’t have to submit a weekly timesheet unless you want them to. Additionally, features like geofencing and webcam on punch can help to prevent time theft.

Most solutions integrate directly with payroll providers making it easy for managers to process payroll. The software can also prevent early punching as well as unintentional overtime by automatically alerting a manager when such events take place. Employees can check their hours in real-time and request edits if needed.

Even though time and attendance software is a great option, there are a few drawbacks. Some systems can be quite expensive, and most require some sort of training to ensure that your employees and managers understand how to use the software. When looking for a solution, try to find one that includes plenty of features, so you’re getting your money’s worth and has excellent customer support – like Buddy Punch!

Man reviewing FLSA employee rights.
Time and attendance tracking systems can help you remain FLSA compliant by ensuring that you’re accurately recording your employees time and storing vital employee records.

Time Tracking Systems and Labor Laws

Labor law compliance is vital for any business – whether big or small. A time tracking system can help you remain compliant.

Time and attendance tracking systems help you record accurate payroll records and can empower your employees. That is not all they’re great for – they can also help you remain compliant with labor laws.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, also known as the FLSA, was enacted to set standards for minimum wage, record-keeping, overtime pay and youth employment in the private sector as well as local, federal and state governments.

Every business in the United States must comply with FLSA standards and regulations. One section of the FLSA requires corporations to keep employee records – specifically payroll records, time cards, wage rate tables, piecework tickets, employee schedules along with records of additions or deductions from employee wages.

The Department of Labor says that businesses must keep payroll records for at least three years and any other records for two years.

If you violate the FLSA, you can be fined upwards of $10,000 or even be imprisoned. If you have violated wage rights, you will be required to pay those to the impacted employees. FLSA violations can also lead to bad press, which can potentially cost your business more than any fine.

It is essential to remain FLSA-compliant and a time tracking system like Buddy Punch can help by retaining time tracking data. You can see when and by whom a timesheet was edited and run a report on any deleted time.

Buddy Punch Can also help you remain compliant when it comes to overtime and employee break laws. The software can send you an alert when employees are near or hit overtime and can record all break information.

Time and attendance tracking shouldn’t be something you need to be concerned with every day. As a business owner, you probably have a long list of other things you need to worry about. Simplify time tracking with automation, real-time reports, and integrations. You can be confident that your employees time is being tracked accurately and your budget is spent wisely.