We’re all familiar with the Hollywood cliché of factory workers ‘clocking in’ for work on an old-fashioned, manual punch card machine.
Not only are these time tracking systems open to abuse – such as getting your buddy to clock your card for you when you’re absent (buddy punching) – but they’re outmoded and no longer fit for purpose in the modern age.
Instead, they’re being replaced by much more useful online clock-in systems more suited to a steadily growing deskless workforce.
What is an online clock-in system?
An online clock-in system is a digital solution to the age-old problem of employee time tracking from the start to the end of their shift.
All time tracking software has a digital clock that helps you to track time, calculate payroll and tally hourly wages for all employees.
These systems have proliferated in recent years and range in their level of functionality and available services.
Free time clock app
You can find free time clock software online, including Clockify, Homebase, Find My Shift and Time Clock Wizard. There are also review sites listing time clock software.
These types of free time clock apps may not have all the features that paid time-tracking software offers.
Does time clock software work?
Evidence for the need to stop time theft
Time theft, or the false claiming of hours worked, is a massive problem for business.
An American study (Pomeroy, 2007) found that 73% of employees have witnessed unethical practices in the workplace, including late clock-ins, leaving early, buddy punching and false recording of hours.
A Forbes article reports that around 4.5 hours per week on average are stolen from employers. If that doesn’t sound like much, consider that it totals nearly six weeks of work per year – work not done but paid for by employers, amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide.
Yet another study (“How Much Can You Save with Automated Time and Attendance?” Contractor’s Business Management, 2006) found that 53 minutes per employee per day is lost to time theft in the construction industry and another study (McGee & Fillion, 1995) found that more than 60% of retail employees owned up to time theft.
Clearly, there’s a huge need to eliminate buddy punching and accurately track hours so that working hours equals paid time.
The effectiveness of attendance software
The proof is always in the pudding, and some customers using time clock software have reported significant benefits in reduced labour and administrative costs with:
- Reduced overtime
- Reduced cost-per-hire
- Automated human resources functions
- Optimised shift scheduling
- Reduced employee time theft.
Features of online time clock software
Ditch the hardware and manual timecards
Say goodbye to the Hollywood cliché. By definition, your online time clock software will not need any expensive hardware, paper time cards or spreadsheets. Instead, your workers can use almost any device with an internet connection, like mobile phones, tablets or computers, to tap into a sophisticated mobile time clock tracking system that does away with time-consuming tasks to track employee hours.
Create a modern and digitalised workspace
The best time clock software makes time tracking much more flexible in its applications and functions. You can track total hours and employee hours, clock in, clock out, use custom pay rates and streamline payroll systems to automate these manual tasks.
Employee time clock software can include these functions:
- Allow employees to clock-in online
- Add reminders about timesheets
- Schedule staff and book meetings
- Use an interactive calendar
- Allow roster swaps
For younger workers, using mobile apps can help attract and retain talented staff. They facilitate remote teams, hybrid work arrangements, job sharing, freelance and part-time work that can all benefit your workforce, help build a better culture and create more engaged staff members.
Allow clocking-in at approved locations
GPS tracking is very simple with mobile apps and a mobile device, and it’s a powerful feature to define employee locations and track attendance.
As an example, it’s possible to limit clock-in locations to head office and a remote job site. The use of multiple on-site locations is unlimited. It’s even possible to use Bluetooth to further specify locations right down to individual rooms within a building.
Transport firms will find GPS tracking data very helpful in tracking employee locations, an employee’s arrival, employee hours, total hours and time tracking in general.
By using an online time clock, you can manage absences much more easily than with a manual system. All kinds of leave requests, like sick leave, annual leave or business leave, can be entered into the system with user permissions.
Requests for absences, with dates and duration of absence, can be approved with the aid of the online time clock. It’s far easier to see employee scheduling holistically across a pay period and make informed decisions quickly.
Benefits of an online clock-in system
Fewer mistakes with a smart online clock
Not all clock-ins are true, but the best employee time tracking systems distinguish those errors that are unintentional and even prevent them from occurring.
We’ve all clicked the wrong button at some point and it shouldn’t mean the end of the world, a ton of admin corrections or an embarrassing email to HR.
Instead, clock apps can automatically know through employee scheduling where and when you’re expected to clock on.
In the absence of leave requests, common errors and mistakes can be prevented by greying out options or limiting them. The result is less work for admin staff, greater employee accountability and more accurate attendance tracking and payroll reporting.
Optimises productivity based on HR reports
Your productivity can rise when you harness biometric technology to facilitate automated processes that track hours worked. Facial recognition technology, eye scans and fingerprints can all eliminate the need to keep time and attendance manually.
This saves time from employees contesting incorrectly documented times, reduces the number of staff required to process the data and provides online timesheets for every team member to payroll providers. The result is improved productivity.
More accurate payroll
It should go without saying that all of the features in an employee time clock online system reduce errors from manual inputs. The lack of physical timesheets saves manual processing where other errors can occur.
The result is a savings of labour costs in administration and more accurate payroll reports.
While any system will never be completely free of mistakes, the potential to save time and gain accuracy in tracking time for payroll reporting, especially for small businesses where time theft might be an issue, is very appealing.
Helps allocate where time was spent and for which project
You don’t need to rely on retrospective audits or team communication to identify which staff member worked on which project. Employee time tracking can be automatically allocated to clients, projects, campaigns or accounts. This makes task management much easier, as well as accounting, invoicing and business analysis.
Distributes shifts effortlessly
Deskless workers can often find managing their changing shifts is a considerable source of angst. Much of this can be eliminated with an employee time clock on a mobile device.
This allows, for example, workers with shifting schedules or locations to clock in or out and record their time, no matter where they are.
Because all the shift data is centralised and digitised, it’s far easier and more efficient to distribute shifts fairly and equitably among staff. It also opens up great flexibility for shift swaps, shift preferences and more staff autonomy.
Streamlines internal processes
As pointed out above, an online clock-in system has benefits across the enterprise, both for workers and management. Not only does the automating of tasks reduce manual processing and increase accuracy in payroll reporting, but it lifts productivity.
For workers, the increased transparency into their shifts provides less likelihood of mistakes, like missing a shift. It leads to better engagement because they can see they’re being treated equally.
Allowing more self-service functions gives staff control they formerly lacked. Most people really appreciate these added benefits.
Anyone with a deskless workforce in multiple locations looking for ways to improve employee scheduling, payroll reports, employee time tracking and labour costs will see untold benefits from adopting an online clock-in system.
The benefits will save time, reduce admin, prevent buddy punching and time theft, improve task management and employee scheduling, and generally streamline all aspects of attendance management.
Humanforce is a leading provider of shift-based workforce management solutions that simplify onboarding, scheduling, time and attendance, employee engagement and communication.
Customers in more than 23 countries use Humanforce to optimise costs, realise compliance confidence, empower their team and drive growth.
Humanforce was founded in Sydney in 2002, and today has offices across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UK.
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How Much Can You Save with Automated Time and Attendance? Contractor’s Business Management, (2006)
McGee, M., & Fillion, M. (1995). Honesty Is Still the Best Policy.
Pomeroy, A. (2007). Corporate Ethics Affect Employee Productivity. HR Magazine, p.16.