Employee Time Tracking Using Excel Spreadsheets: Templates, Downsides & Alternatives

In this article, we’ll share several Excel time tracking templates (i.e. weekly, biweekly, and monthly timesheets) that you can use to track employee hours and calculate payroll.

That said, tracking time using Microsoft Excel comes with downsides, namely the fact that Excel does not solve for:

  • Inaccurate work hours due to human error: Spreadsheets don’t account for human error when inputting time, which usually leads to wasted time and money in the form of inaccurate timesheets.
  • Complex and time-consuming payroll process: While spreadsheets automatically calculate hours worked, they don’t aid with the transfer of that data into your preferred payroll provider, or help with issues such as time off.
  • Lack of Accountability: Employees are not always honest about when and where they punch in and out of work.

In this post, we’ll share several useful Excel time tracking templates. We’ll also expand on the downsides mentioned above, and discuss how Buddy Punch, our employee time tracking software, solves them.

Note: We’re proud of what we’ve built at Buddy Punch. It was born out of our own frustrations after struggling to track time manually for over 20 employees across three different business locations. If you’d like to learn more about Buddy Punch, visit our site today and sign up for a demo or free trial!

Excel Time Tracking Templates (Weekly, Biweekly, Monthly & More)

Whether you’re a small business with multiple full-time employees or you deal with contractors, an Excel timesheet helps you record time in and out, including breaks, and automatically calculates regular and overtime hours for you.

Microsoft offers several free timesheet templates for Excel on their site (see full list here), some of which include:

Weekly Timesheet
(Click Here to See More Info & Download Template)

Excel Weekly Time Sheet


Biweekly Timesheet

(Click Here to See More Info & Download Template)

Excel Biweekly Timesheet

Weekly, Monthly, and Yearly Timesheet
(Click Here to See More Info & Download Template)

Excel Weekly, Monthly, and Yearly Timesheet

There are many other Excel timesheet templates that may suit your business, including:

Downsides to Tracking Time Using Excel Spreadsheets

As mentioned above, tracking time using spreadsheet templates, though easy and fast, comes with three major drawbacks:

  • It can be inaccurate due to human error.
  • It makes the payroll process complex and time-consuming.
  • It may cause a lack of accountability.

We’ll discuss each in detail below.

Inaccurate Due to Human Error (Which Translates to Time and Money Wasted Trying to Fix Those Mistakes)

Even if your employees are completely honest about their time worked, tracking those hours using Excel spreadsheets is still liable to human error.

For example: If one of your employees worked 21.47 hours on a given week, and another worked 24.17 hours, it is easy to confuse the two and end up inputting the wrong number next to each employee’s name.

And even if you do manage to run payroll successfully with no mistakes when calculating billable hours — the payroll process needs to be repeated over and over again, which means that eventually you could make a mistake.

This, in turn, invariably translates to you either overpaying or underpaying your employees — and lots of time and money wasted trying to fix those mistakes.

Time Consuming, Tedious, and Inefficient Payroll Process

Timesheet inaccuracies — whether due to dishonest employees or human error — invariably make the payroll process more tedious and time consuming than it already is.

But there’s another problem that comes with running payroll using Excel spreadsheets: you have to do it manually.

Running payroll manually means that you first need to collect each of your employees’ timesheets which, much like a landlord collecting rent from its tenants, may result in you having to chase down members of your team who forgot to turn in the hours at the established date and time.

Add that to the fact that payroll needs to be done within a certain date range every month, lest you anger your employees or fail to input that information into your payroll provider for a specific pay period.

Even if you manage to collect all timesheets in a timely manner — you’re still running payroll manually, which means you’ll still have to spend time fixing inaccuracies due to human error.

Whenever the math for an employees’ number of hours worked doesn’t quite add up, you’ll be left having to track down that employee and ask them if they remember when they punched in/out on a specific day.

If that person doesn’t remember or is out for the weekend or mid-vacation, what do you do then?

Last but not least, once you get all the information in order — you still have to input that data into your payroll provider. That’s another tedious yet necessary step you need to spend your valuable time on.

Accountability

When you use an Excel time tracking spreadsheet, you’re trusting your employees will input their time worked honestly, whether that’s on a daily, weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly basis.

But there is nothing stopping your employees from punching in and out in the parking lot versus in the office, or at an earlier time than they actually started working.

A lack of accountability from your team invariably leads to lost money.

And even if your employees are mostly honest about their hours worked, or you are able to survey them closely because they work in an office environment — they can still say they showed up to work 10 minutes earlier than they did, for example, and left five minutes after their shift was over. Inaccuracies such as these might look small at first, but over the period of several weeks or a year, they can add up to giant losses of money.

But all of these downsides to tracking employee time using Excel spreadsheet templates can easily be avoided, as we discuss next.

Why Buddy Punch Is the Best Way to Track Time for Your Employees

The Buddy Punch interface

Tracking time for your employees manually, be it through spreadsheet templates or other methods, can be tempting to many business owners. These methods look easy to implement — but they come with many downsides, a few of which we mentioned above.

We learned this lesson ourselves when trying to track time for a team of over 20 people across three different business locations. After wasting countless hours and dollars battling with our employees’ accountability, inaccurate time cards, and an inefficient payroll process, we thought to ourselves: there has to be a better way.

Which is why we set out to build Buddy Punch — a time card app that helps businesses keep their employees accountable throughout the time tracking process, remove all its inaccuracies, and streamline the payroll process.

How?

Through a whole range of features, which we’ll detail below.

As a sneak-peak of what’s to come, here’s a list of Buddy Punch’s main features dealing with payroll and employee accountability.

Streamline Payroll with:

Increase Accountability for Your Team with:

Streamline Payroll with Integrations, Time Off Tracking, and More

When we set out to build Buddy Punch, our goal was to craft a time tracking app that would, in addition to serving as a digital time clock or time tracker, remove all inefficiencies inherent to running a business.

Among those inefficiencies, few can be more frustrating and time-consuming than the payroll process, which is why we built the following features:

Integrations with Payroll Providers

Buddy Punch integrates with endless payroll platforms from QuickBooks, to Zapier, Paychex, SurePayroll, PayPlus, ADP WorkforceNow, Paylocity, Workday, Gusto, Paycor, and more.

Buddy Punch integrates with most of the top payroll providers, such as Workday, Paychex, QuickBooks and many others, which you can see pictured above.

Simply log in to the Buddy Punch administrator dashboard and navigate to the integrations section, select your payroll provider, and easily start streamlining your payroll process.

Payroll Reports on Demand

Buddy Punch: Payroll Reports on Demand

At all times, the Buddy Punch software calculates all you need to run payroll automatically and in real-time. You can export that data (including hours & minutes worked per employee, time off data, and more) in the form of a CSV or Excel payroll report and use it to run payroll manually.

Time Off Tracking

Buddy Punch: Timecards

With our Time Off Tracking features, both you and your employees can manage all your time off needs effortlessly. Employees can login to our app from their preferred device (Android, iOS, desktop and tablet) to request time off, be it paid or unpaid, with just a few clicks.

Employers, in turn, can approve or deny all their employees’ time off requests by logging in to the Buddy Punch administrator dashboard and looking for the “Pending Approval” status, as shown below:

John Doe: Pending Approval Status

Buddy Punch also comes with an in-app time off summary, which allows employees to check their time off balance, future balance, or get a detailed history of time off taken.

Buddy Punch: Time Off Summary


Track Employee Hours by Jobs, Projects, or Locations

Buddy Punch: Hours report by location, department, position, time off.

Buddy Punch allows administrators to generate “Hours Reports” with just a few clicks. These reports can be segmented by “Position”, “Location” or “Department”; we also offer a “Time Off Report.”

For a more detailed explanation of how our reports work, see this video, where you’ll find in-depth information for all our reports plus the simple process you can use to set up codes for your team to punch into.

Accruals

Buddy Punch: Time Off Accrual Rules

Buddy Punch makes managing all your accrual needs effortless.

All you have to do is navigate to the accrual rules section of the Buddy Punch platform, and set up an accrual rule. These can be based on the total amount of hours worked, or on a specified pay period (annual accruals included.)

Increase Accountability with Geofencing, IP Address Locking, Photos on Punch, and More

As mentioned above, one of the main challenges businesses tracking time using spreadsheet templates face is a lack of accountability from their employees.

We went through this frustration ourselves when tracking hours manually for over 20 employees across three different business locations for our previous business endeavor. There’s no guarantee that your employees are being honest or transparent when punching in and out of work.

This is why, when we set out to build Buddy Punch, we built the following features:

Geofencing

Buddy Punch: Geofencing

Our Geofencing feature leverages your employees’ mobile devices to allow you to create limiting radiuses outside which punching in and out is impossible.

Geofences are easy to set up: simply input the address to act as the center for your geofence, and select your desired radius. Once you’ve done that, if one of your employees attempts to punch in/out outside that radius, our app will show them an error message.

GPS Tracking

Buddy Punch: GPS Tracking

Buddy Punch also leverages mobile devices’ GPS technology through the GPS Tracking feature, which, when active, allows you to track your employees’ location whenever they clock in/out, and record that information in their timecard for you to review.

IP Address Locking

Buddy Punch: Edit IP Address Lock

IP Address Locking adds another layer of accountability to your employees’ in-office punches by preventing your team from punching in/out when not connected to a specific IP Address.

To start using this feature, access the Buddy Punch administrator dashboard and designate an IP Address for the lock, as pictured above.

Now, when your employees (all of them, or on a per-employee basis) attempt to punch in/out, they will only be able to do so if their devices are connected to your chosen network.

Photos on Punch

Buddy Punch: Photos on Punch

When you activate the Photos on Punch feature, your employees will need to take a photo of themselves before their punch can be successfully recorded, as pictured above.

These photos, in turn, can then be found in the administrator platform and in each employee’s timecard, for you to review either all at once or on a per-employee basis.

Facial Recognition

Buddy Punch: Facial Recognition

Our Facial Recognition feature works similarly to our Photos on Punch feature, but takes things one step further. When this feature is active, our app will prompt your employees to authenticate themselves through a biometric scan (via their mobile device’s technology) before punching in or out of work.

If the Buddy Punch app doesn’t recognize their face, the punch will be considered invalid and your employees will receive an error message asking them to try again.

Additional Features

So far we’ve covered Buddy Punch’s key features, and how businesses can leverage them to track time for their employees without falling trap to the downsides inherent to spreadsheet time tracking. But Buddy Punch’s features aren’t just limited to the ones mentioned above!

In fact, our platform comes with a whole range of other features, such as:

Click here for a full list of Buddy Punch’s features.

What Our Users Have to Say about Buddy Punch

We’re proud to say that so far, Buddy Punch has been able to help over 10,000 businesses track time for their employees while keeping them accountable, minimizing human error, and streamlining the payroll process.

Many of those users were kind enough to leave us a review on the popular software review site Capterra, resulting in 631 reviews with a 4.8/5 star average rating.

Buddy Punch's Capterra Reviews

Here are two reviews that highlight some of Buddy Punch’s most beloved aspects by customers, including simplicity and ease-of-use and an excellent customer support:

Buddy Punch review: "Simple and easy to use time tracking product"

Click here to read the full review.

Buddy Punch review: "Absolutely stellar customer support, works exactly as advertised"

Click here to read the full review.

Click here to read all of Buddy Punch’s Capterra reviews.

Interested in learning more?

We’ve recorded a full Buddy Punch demo, which you can watch below:

If you’d like more information on our platform or would like to sign up for a free trial, you can visit our site here. You can also schedule a personal demo here.

A member of our team will be more than happy to show you the ins and outs of Buddy Punch, while answering any and all questions you might have about the product.

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