Benefits of Time and Attendance Tracking
Given the recent upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have been forced to adapt their time and attendance procedures to include a higher number of remote workers. Moving forward, these changes may result in more permanent shifts in the way work is completed and time is recorded. Developing automated processes to replace manual ones requires a well-thought-out plan and a careful allocation of resources, including the integration of new technology.
What is a Time & Attendance System?
A time and attendance system provides employees with an advanced, user-friendly alternative to outdated processes like manual time cards. Automated systems feature employee dashboards and flexible punch methods. They may also include the ability to clock in using a mobile app on a smartphone or tablet. Some systems offer a range of customizable online time-collection options — whether by badge, fingerscan, keypad, or web entry — that can help businesses reduce lost time and track employee productivity.
Why Track Employee Hours?
Wages paid to non-exempt employees whether paid hourly or salary are based on the amount of time they work. The failure to adhere to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and any applicable state wage and hour laws can result in governmental penalties and employee-initiated litigation. What's more, making key business decisions — including hiring needs, workforce reductions, and job assignments — may require knowing exactly how many hours employees have worked.
In the current business environment, when so many employees have shifted to remote work, a strong time tracking procedure can help you ensure that everyone is continuing to do their jobs and work the correct amount of hours. If your company decides to rely more heavily on a remote workforce going forward, it's wise to make sure time and attendance can be properly recorded for both hourly and salaried employees.
Here are a few more reasons to track employee hours:
- Regular pay. Wages paid to non-exempt employees are determined by the number of hours worked. Employers will want to be sure that they're accurately paying employees whether they're in the office or in a remote location.
- Overtime pay. Most non-exempt workers, whether hourly or salaried, are eligible for overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours per workweek. Federal overtime rules are set out in the FLSA regulations which are administered by the Department of Labor, and there may also be state wage and hour rules applicable to your business and your employees.
- FMLA. Eligibility to receive benefits under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires having at least 1,250 hours of service during the 12-month period preceding the leave. Some states have their own leave regulations as well.
- State rest and lunch breaks. Some states require that employees receive certain breaks during their shifts. Tracking hours can show that employers are compliant with state law in providing these breaks.
- Paid time off (PTO). Companies that award paid time off for personal, vacation, and sick days based on hours worked must calculate the earned time correctly.
- Time tracking. Tracking hours can help determine whether workers are arriving to the office on time or logging in to work systems remotely during business hours, in accordance with company policy.
- Affordable Care Act compliance. The federal employer mandate requiring employer-provided health coverage or the payment of a penalty applies to companies with at least 50 full-time and full-time equivalent employees. This determination is based on hours of service.
- Small employer health insurance credit. Small businesses may be eligible for a federal tax credit of 50 percent of the premiums they pay for their workers. Credit eligibility is determined by the number of full-time and full-time equivalent employees (another calculation based on hours worked).
Benefits of Implementing a Time & Attendance Tracking System
Automated time tracking isn't as widely used by employers as you might think. A Paychex survey* reported that 24% of employers are spending 15 hours a month validating timecards. As many employees continue work remotely, or in a hybrid fashion, HR teams are well-positioned to make the case for the addition of an automated time solution.
An automated time tracking system offers significant advantages and increased flexibility for business owners and their workforce. Here are some of the key benefits:
Save Time and Money
Paper-based systems can be time-consuming. Calculating payroll manually can drain hours from those charged with this complex task. Additionally, the wait-time for payment by check can frustrate employees. There's also a greater likelihood of payroll delays when an employer must adjust to changes in state and federal payroll regulations.
An integrated time and attendance system can sharply decrease expenses related to the collection, management, and data entry involved in a manual system. New employee information can be automatically transferred from a central HR platform to help ensure that everyone is accounted for and paid correctly.
Reduce Employee Errors
Employees using paper-based time tracking systems may neglect to complete their timesheets when they're supposed to. Later, in their attempts to recall precise information, they end up guessing the time they started working, the length of their lunch breaks, and what time they finished for the day. Such errors can lead to employers over or underpaying employees.
Automated time tracking and reporting can reduce the risk of manual tracking errors by importing employee hours directly into a payroll system. Time collection options like badges, biometric technologies, keypads, web entries, and smartphone apps can also cut the rate of lost-time instances and boost employee productivity.
Track Remote Time & Attendance
Now more than ever, remote time tracking is essential. Remote or traveling team members may experience unique challenges in accurately tracking time, attendance, and mileage on the go. Mileage tracking apps utilize mobile technology to track miles driven between job sites and eliminate the need for paper documentation of mileage.
For employees who set individual appointments with clients at the office and remotely, calendar-integration features can help system users stay on top of their schedules and improve accuracy in reporting. These features also allow for the integration of business and personal calendars, helping to improve work/life balance and eliminate accidental scheduling snafus.
Enhance Productivity and Job Satisfaction
An efficient and accurate system enables employees to focus more intently on their job responsibilities. Rather than getting caught up in filling out forms and double-checking to ensure accuracy, employees know their next paycheck will be received on time and the amount will be based on hours worked. This removes a considerable amount of potential stress and distraction from the workplace, which can help to improve employee satisfaction and morale.
Additionally, replacing paper-based methods with a modern time and attendance system gives employees more time to focus on their jobs, while also giving their supervisors valuable labor data to help them identify and correct productivity issues before they become unmanageable.
Improve Security for Sensitive Company Data
Integrated biometric technology can help control employee access to information-sensitive areas of the company and monitor employee entry. State-of-the-art identification equipment, from Wi-Fi biometric-enabled time clocks and iris recognition technology to tablet kiosks, track employees entering and exiting the office. Sensitive company data is securely transmitted only to managers requiring access.
The security benefits of a system that utilizes enhanced technology and biometric equipment can be invaluable to the day to day operations of the business. Not only can an automated system help reduce the risk of compromised security by unauthorized personnel, time and attendance solutions with biometric technology can also help prevent the practice of "buddy punching," or the act in which non-exempt employees not only record their time on a time clock, but the time of a co-worker who isn't present, as well.
How to Track Employee Time & Attendance
Whether your employees work in the office, from home, or move between job sites, there's a time tracking system that will benefit your business. The latest options offer improved efficiency and more accurate reporting. Based on your needs, you may find user-friendly automation is all you need to record time at a higher level of accuracy. Or, you may decide to invest in a more sophisticated technology that offers the utmost security.
Effective Options for Tracking Employee Time & Attendance
Automated Time Tracking Systems
Even basic automated systems improve accuracy and provide cost savings when compared to manual processes. Time can be tracked and submitted for approval to management, then sent to payroll, in one seamless process. Updates are installed when available, without the need to stop and redesign manual pay procedures. Additional functions can be added at a later date to increase the range and the productivity of the system.
Mobile Time Sheets
Mobile time sheet software, downloaded as an app to a mobile device, enables employees to access time sheets online. The data provided in this user-friendly app can help employers with payroll processing, record keeping, and provide managers with the ability to more closely monitor attendance.
Advanced Scheduling Modules with Calendar Integration
Technology is at a point now where, in an emergency situation, an employee can easily modify their schedule and adjust it to their needs. And entering time has become simple to the point where an employee may only need to report exceptions.
Integrated scheduling can now take place within a time tracking solution. This offers businesses greater visibility and flexibility in managing employee schedules. Schedules can be digitally monitored on a weekly basis, by organizational unit or employee group, with preset capacity requirements per employee shift. Also, employees can clearly communicate their availability to supervisors and receive email notifications of schedule changes in real-time, making things easier in terms of planning and keeping commitments in their personal lives.
Calendar features provide employees with the ability to toggle between Outlook, Google, or an Apple calendar. Employees are given a more customized approach to managing shifts and overtime schedules, in the format they feel most comfortable using.
Fingerscan readers and other forms of authentication like a facial recognition time clock can help to eliminate misconduct related to time and attendance. The unique biometric idenfiers assigned to each individual prevent the manipulation of time and attendance reporting through instances of buddy-punching or other situations that may arise involving unapproved access. Biometric options can also be used remotely. For example, an Android-based touch-screen tablet allows employees to confirm work schedules, review their time cards, and request time off. In some versions, employees can easily scan current job listings and other features.
Biometric scanning uses an image of a hand, finger, or face that is converted into a mathematical algorithm as a basis for employee identification. The algorithm cannot be reverse-engineered to reproduce the original image or be linked to an individual employee.
WiFi-Enabled Time Clocks
New hardware technology built into a WiFi-enabled time clock can support up to 500 employees' time and attendance record keeping. This solution leverages biometric technology, which helps ensure time-punch accuracy (with an optional image capture), promoting greater efficiency and accuracy. These biometric clocks have gained traction in recent years, offering safeguards against time theft, including buddy punching. They can also help eliminate the problem of lost badges and cards.
Facial Recognition Kiosk App
Some businesses are adopting a mobile punch option, using facial recognition software and a kiosk app that lets employees easily punch in and out. This app is an ideal resource for people on the move. The enhanced functionality and sleek user interface provide a consistent punch experience, allowing employees to capture "real-time worked" on their mobile device.
An iris recognition time clock is an advanced biometric option that functions well in active environments such as construction sites. Some businesses find biometric systems frustrating because grease, dirt, or moisture common in many work environments can skew results. In the case of fingerscan clocks, users need to press their fingers on them in a specific way to make them work. The latest iteration of identification technology, iris recognition technology, offers advanced features to help solve some of the issues found in other biometric systems:
- No part of the body needs to touch the system to clock in.
- It works with face masks, contacts, eyeglasses, or even goggles.
- An iris clock is not a "retinal scanner," and instead it safely takes a scan of an employee's eyes.
- Helpful voice prompts and visual cues assist first-time users
- The scanner captures a highly detailed map of the 240+ unique data points in each person's iris.
- Once the data points are captured in the enrollment stage, the model works for a lifetime, regardless of age or changes in style.
- It works with contacts, eyeglasses, or even goggles.
- It's durable for medical, construction, warehouses, restaurants, and other more challenging work environments.
- Implementation and administration are fast.
An iris recognition time clock is an effective option for worksite employees to accurately track their time without compromising their safety, allowing them to wear face masks or other personal protective equipment the entire time.
Implementing a Time & Attendance Policy
As your business shifts more employees toward remote work, it may be time to create or update your company's time and attendance policy. A formal policy will ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to time tracking and the stated procedures are followed no matter where an employee is physically located.
How Paychex can help
With so many other business concerns taking up your time in today's challenging work environment, you can't afford to let manual time-tracking processes drag down productivity. Leading options like Paychex Flex® Time can deliver significant benefits to both the business and the workforce. No matter where your employees are located, it's possible to put a system in place to ensure that time tracking policies are followed.
And, if you're looking for further advice or suggestions on how to prepare your business for changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, we offer the latest information on current hot topics and resources in our Help Center.
*2019 Paychex Pulse of HR Report