Time and attendance systems can benefit your business in numerous ways. With so many choices, though, it can be challenging to decide which one will fit your needs. If you are looking for a time and attendance system, here’s everything you need to know about what they are, what they offer and how to choose one.
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Time and attendance systems allow employees to clock in and out electronically via timeclocks, internet-connected computers, mobile devices and telephones. Some solutions also offer the ability to punch in and out via text messages, social media programs like Twitter, and other communication programs, such as Slack. When an employee clocks in or out, the data instantly transfers to software that can seamlessly import it to your payroll solution.
These systems do more than just track when employees come and go. They also monitor mobile employees via geolocation and geofencing, manage paid time off (PTO), create employee schedules, provide detailed labor reports, and give real-time data on who is working, who is not, who showed up late and who is nearing overtime.
Time and attendance systems are for more than tracking employees’ hours. You can also use them for scheduling, vacation and time-off management, labor reporting, and more.
Time and attendance systems offer self-service that allows employees to handle many time-tracking tasks on their own, such as reviewing the hours they’ve worked, their current and future schedules, and their PTO accruals.
Many of these systems offer both cloud-based and on-premises solutions. The on-premises systems are stored on servers within your business, while the cloud-based systems are housed by your time and attendance system provider and accessed online.
Given their breadth of functions, it should come as no surprise that there are various types of time and attendance systems. When comparing your options, you’ll probably encounter the following types of systems:
You can use employees’ unique biological features, such as fingerprints, to track their attendance without any possibility of buddy punching.
These are some of the benefits of time and attendance systems:
These are the main pitfalls of time and attendance systems:
The cost structure of time and attendance systems depends on whether you choose a cloud-based or on-premises solution. Cloud-based systems have smaller recurring monthly costs, while on-premises systems typically have larger one-time fees.
With on-premises systems, you pay all your costs upfront. You can expect to pay several hundred to several thousand dollars for the software, licenses for each employee, and installation. There are no monthly fees for the service thereafter. However, the one-time costs don’t typically cover any ongoing support or software updates.
For a cloud-based system, most services charge a per-employee fee that ranges from $1 to $10 per month. Some cloud services also charge a base or minimum monthly fee.
Some providers charge a one-time setup and implementation fee. Unlike with on-premises systems, however, all software upgrades and support are included in your monthly expenses.
Another cost you might incur for either option is for a timeclock. Many time and attendance systems work with a range of timeclocks. These timeclocks can work with PINs, swipe or proximity badges, or biometrics such as fingerprint or facial scans. The complexity of the clock you select will determine the cost. Prices usually range from a couple hundred dollars for a basic clock to several thousand for a sophisticated biometric clock.
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With so many systems on the market, it can be difficult to know which one is right for your business. When shopping for a system, you should look for several things.
Still have questions about time and attendance systems? Here are some common questions and answers that may help you reach a decision.
The biggest difference is that everything is digitized and automated. Traditional timeclocks and timecards require manual entry of data for everything. Time and attendance systems just require the push of a button for all of the information to sync with your software. That software then seamlessly integrates with your payroll solution. This eliminates duplicate entries and guesswork. In addition, time and attendance systems log hours, job codes, and information about breaks and PTO digitally and in real time.
No longer are there simple punch timeclocks. Today’s timeclocks collect time in several different ways, including via punch cards, magnetic swipe cards, barcodes, PINs, and biometrics such as fingerprints or facial scans.
Any time and attendance system that works with a biometric timeclock is a biometric system. Because nearly every time and attendance solution that works with physical timeclocks offers biometric options, there is very little difference between the two. Biometric timeclocks are best to use if you are concerned about buddy punching.
The only time and attendance systems that don’t have biometric options are those that don’t incorporate biometric timeclocks, relying instead on computers and mobile devices to punch employees in and out. However, even some of those systems now offer fingerprint scanners that plug into computers or use programs that take employee pictures with a computer camera as a way to incorporate biometric options.
No. Some businesses prefer employees to clock in and out only through a computer, mobile app or telephone. Not using a timeclock can cut down on costs, as they can run anywhere from a couple hundred to several thousand dollars each.
While it might seem like time and attendance systems are only necessary for businesses with hourly workers, businesses with salaried employees can reap a number of benefits from them as well. A system that tracks how long employees work on specific projects can help with labor projections. Additionally, businesses with salaried employees may appreciate the PTO management aspects of the system.
These systems use GPS technology to monitor remote employees via mobile devices. Some systems use geofencing to limit where employees can clock in and out from, while others use geolocation to record exactly where workers are when they punch in and out. The systems can also use geolocation to track employees throughout the day, not just where they start and end their shifts.
Time and attendance systems integrate with payroll systems by allowing you to transfer your time and attendance data into your payroll program with the press of a button. This cuts down on errors and streamlines the entire payroll process.
Time and attendance systems manage PTO in several ways. They can track how much time off employees have earned and used, as well as accruals for sick time, vacation, bereavement and any other type of time off employees may receive.
Some time and attendance systems also handle the request and approval process. This allows employees to ask for time off directly within the system, and managers can either approve or deny those requests.
Max Freedman contributed to the writing and research in this article.