A time and attendance system can tell you more about your workforce than who showed up for work each day. Scheduling details, cost breakdowns and budget forecasts are among the treasure trove of information that employers can glean from their data.
"When many people think of a time and attendance system, they think of time collection and hours tracking only," Josh Mazza, product manager for Paychex, told Business.com. "The truth is that today, many time and attendance systems go well beyond who's working and who's not."
Raj Narayanaswamy, co-founder and co-CEO of time and attendance system provider Replicon, said these solutions use time as a system of record. Businesses can use these systems to connect employee time to a wide range of outcomes, such as work, accomplishments, events and key performance indicators (KPIs), he said.
According to Narayanaswamy, this type of thought process helps keep employees and leadership accountable, which in turn fosters a successful company environment.
"Our customers use this (time and attendance) data to manage a plethora of key business elements, including labor costs, overtime, compliance, profitability and more," Narayanaswamy said. "They can measure time against projects and jobs for billing, manage their professional services performance, or forecast future resource needs effectively."
Editor's note: Looking for a time and attendance system for your business? Click the Compare Quotes button below to have our sister site BuyerZone connect you with vendors that can help.
How to use historical data
After using a time and attendance system for an extended period, businesses will have a set of historical data that they can then compare to the current data they are generating.
One example of this is looking at scheduled hours versus actual hours worked. Mazza said an administrator can look at the variances over a week, month or year.
"The variances can identify things like which employees worked the most hours outside of their schedule, who had the most absences, which employees were frequently tardy, etc.," he said. "Such data can identify trends or even behavior patterns that can then be leveraged from an HR perspective, if necessary."
Historical data can also help your company's bottom line. Mazza said business owners and HR managers can use time and attendance data to accurately forecast coverage.
"Leveraging the data captured over time can, for example, reduce overtime expenses that may have been previously paid to many employees versus scheduling other employees who were available and/or qualified to work certain shifts," Mazza said. "The historical data will also help administrators stay within budget rather than paying out unnecessary labor expenses that could be avoided."
Sharing data with employees
Employers aren't the only ones who can benefit from time and attendance data. Narayanaswamy said businesses would be best served by sharing individual time data with each employee. By helping employees understand how they use their time, he said, businesses empower them to have an impact on outcomes and better insight into their own KPIs, such as availability, productivity and overtime.
"Empowering employees to be accountable for their time lets executives enable their workforce to positively affect the results," Narayanaswamy said.
In addition, many time and attendance systems offer employee self-service functionality that gives them access to time information beyond their own. Mazza said this includes who else is currently working, who's scheduled to work on certain days, who has approved PTO and when, and possibly which scheduled shifts co-workers want to give up or trade.
"If available, these self-service features ultimately empower the workforce to have direct access to data that would normally need to be provided to them by an administrator and/or business owner," Mazza said. "This saves time and increases efficiency for both administrators and employees."
The convenience of digital systems
While time and attendance data can be collected by any means, such as paper timecards or traditional punch clocks, time and attendance systems automate the process.
Time and attendance systems are digital time collection solutions. These types of systems allow businesses to collect employee time via digital timeclocks, mobile apps and web browsers. Once an employee clocks in or out, that information is automatically, and in real time, stored in the online system, which is accessible from anywhere. Managers can log in to the system at any time to see who is working, how long employees have been working, and if any employees showed up late or left early, as well as to review paid time off and a variety of time and attendance reports.
"As each workday concludes, the time and attendance system collects another day's worth of worked hours," Mazza said. "These captured hours become a source of reference for the administrator or business owner."
Whether it's used to control labor expenses or stay within a budget, employees recording their time is critical to the success of any business, according to Mazza.
"A time and attendance system also enables employees to record their time through a collection method that's suitable for the environment in which they perform their work duties," he said. "This eliminates paper timesheets or manual, antiquated time-tracking methods that are vulnerable to fraudulent time reporting and unnecessary labor expenses, while ultimately providing the business owner with accurately recorded data and greater insight."