If you own or operate a business, chances are you have to track time. Tracking time is an essential part of running a profitable business, yet it’s often overlooked or not done correctly. Let’s face it, tracking time is not something everyone looks forward to doing. Hence many businesses resort to tracking employee’s time using pen and paper. Tracking time with paper and trust is not the ideal way to track time.
There are many more reasons why you shouldn’t track time using pen and paper:
Using pen and paper or having your employees text in their times worked is asking for trouble. It is very error-prone as employees typically resort to guessing how much time they worked. Most likely, your timesheets are inaccurate as they are padded with hours. It is usual for well-intentioned people to guesstimate their hours worked. Adding 15 minutes of extra time here and there starts to add up and gets expensive over time.
Aside from inaccurate timesheets, time theft via buddy punching is one of the big downsides of using paper timesheets. Buddy punching does not mean friends are punching each other in the face. It is a term that means employees are clocking in on behalf of other employees or co-workers. It’s not hard to imagine other employees clocking in or writing in time for co-workers who have not shown up to work or their assigned jobs.
“Everyone writes the same,” said no one ever. One of the tough aspects of reading paper time cards is bad handwriting. It’s no fun having to deal with bad handwriting on time cards. It’s frustrating. It can be an unnecessary time-consuming chore if you are having a hard time reading the handwriting on a particular time card. Even worse is having to chase down the employee with the bad handwriting, to verify if the numbers are what you think they are.
Time wasted chasing paper timesheets.
Speaking of chasing people with bad handwriting, not everyone turns in their timesheets on time. You weren’t born to chase people’s timesheets, so why not leave it to a system designed to do this?
I will share with you a few strategies on how to properly track time. We live in a day where technology can make repetitive tasks much easier. There are many great technologies out there for tracking time very accurately. You will save a lot of money and precious time if you choose to forgo paper timesheets and utilize any of these newer ways of tracking time.
Using a time tracking mobile app
There are many time tracking software solutions out on the market. Most of the time tracking software out there are built for employees to use on a desktop. There are also newer timesheet apps that come with mobile apps for employees to clock in and out.
Adopting a mobile time tracking app solution can add huge money and time savings to your business. If you choose to go with a mobile time tracking app, be sure to use one that connects with the cloud. This way, your employee’s time entries can easily sync to the cloud, and administrators can view the time entries. A cloud-based mobile time tracking app is also great just in case your employees lose their devices; they will still have their time cards stored in the cloud.
Should you provide your employees with company devices? Nope. You don’t have to provide employees with company devices; they can simply use their smartphones. Most employees have smartphones these days so the added costs of company-provided tablets or phones are unnecessary—download one of the many time tracking apps and get your team properly tracking time.
Kiosk or Terminal
There can be several reasons why you may not want your employees to clock in with their smartphones. If you find yourself in such a situation, you may consider using a time clock kiosk to let your employees clock in and out. A time clock terminal or kiosk can come in many formats. You can find prebuilt hardware clocks that come with fingerprint readers or badge scanners. They usually have a one-time fee or may have a recurring monthly fee for upgrades or updates.
There’s also another version of time clock kiosks, mobile apps that run on tablets. For example you could download a time tracking mobile app on a smartphone or tablet and mount it on a wall so your workforce can punch in/out using a unique PIN. Some iPad or tablet-based kiosk time tracking apps come with a facial recognition feature that ensures that employees are who they say they are. If the employee’s face does not match what is on file, an administrator or HR person can be alerted about a fraudulent clock in and the time entry is flagged.
GPS & Geofencing clock in
One of the biggest growing trends with time tracking is the use of GPS and geofence technology, to ensure that workers are really where they say they are. Time tracking, coupled with GPS tracking, can be a very powerful way of adding accountability to your organization. If your employees are clocking in from home when they need to be clocking in from the job site, a GPS time tracking app can help stop such bad behavior.
If you choose to go with a GPS time tracking app, be sure to use one that continually follows your workforce throughout the day. If not, bad employees can still beat the system; they will simply clock in at the required location, and whatever happens between clock in/out points will not be captured.
A geofence is a virtual boundary created around a geographical area. Geofencing, when combined with time tracking, can be very powerful. The advantage of using a geofence time tracking app is, employees can be reminded to clock in or even better be automatically clocked in when they arrive within the geofence. Some people have a hard time remembering to clock in so removing this added burden can be a huge time saver.
Crew or supervisor clock in
In industries such as construction, you may have a foreman clocking in their crew or members. Some time tracking systems have the capability to let a foreman or crew leader clock in their team. Such a system can be another huge time saver for the crew leader. Crew leaders can also capture and attach photos to clock ins to ensure that.
SMS clock in and out
Flip phones are a dying breed; however some people just can’t live without them. Also you may live in an area where workers cannot afford a smartphone. This is when clocking in via SMS text can be very helpful. Employees can simply text IN or OUT to clock them into specific jobs. This is a very simple, yet accurate way to clock in. SMS text may not capture the kind of context that a mobile time tracking app might capture. However, it is much better than using paper timesheets.
Please do not use paper to keep track of time. Using paper may seem like a cheaper route to go, but the reality is it is a more expensive option. Paper timesheets can be ridden with errors that can be very costly.
Most employers do not keep track of past paper timesheets or logs. Employment wage lawsuits are a growing trend in the US. Employers relying on paper time card records usually are left in an unfortunate position if they don’t have enough documents to prove their case.