Tracking employee hours might not be your idea of fun, but it’s still essential admin. Every business needs to track employee hours accurately to bill clients and pay staff correctly, as well as provide objective documentation for labor law compliance.
Yet so many companies still haven’t worked out the best way to do it. The majority rely on manual time tracking methods to report employee hours, which produce incomplete, subjective records. According to research, this manual inaccuracy is actually costing the average US firm a staggering $50,000 a year per employee.
But there is a better solution out there – creating accurate time reports with minimal effort. Here’s why the best employee hours tracker is automatic.
What are automatic employee hours trackers?
A software that you install on your computer to track the time you spend on different pieces of work. It works automatically in the background, so you don’t need to start and stop timers or take notes. Some automatic hours trackers can actually draft daily timesheets for you using that information.
Automatic hours trackers offer an alternative to cumbersome manual trackers. Any app that requires you to manually input time data, or repetitively manage a process throughout the day, is a manual tracker. Stop/start timesheet apps, spreadsheets and hours calculators are all textbook examples.
Why are manual trackers so problematic?
Research shows that manual time logs are only ever 67% accurate – even when logged daily. The simple reason? Your brain isn’t designed for the task. No matter how logical you are – or good with numbers – a tracker that relies on your input won’t track employee hours with mathematical precision. Here’s why:
⚔️ It fights your biology
Your brain requires plenty of downtime to process information properly. You need to take cognitive breathers and regularly give it a rest. But to be accurate, manual timers and note taking requires continual input throughout the day. It also requires you to split your attention between work and the clock at all times, even though your brain performs best when focused on one task.
💨 It’s low-priority
Tracking time manually is incredibly fiddly and boring. It’s a classic low-value admin task that, while important, doesn’t actively progress us towards our goals. With so many high-priority tasks needing our attention, we put off doing it...sometimes for weeks at a time.
🧠 It relies on memory
Since it’s hard to robotically manage timers, and many of us put off logging our timesheets, manual time tracking relies heavily on memory. Your short-term memory is much shorter than you think, and can only hold four or five pieces of information at any one time. So if you try to reconstruct your hours from memory at the end of the day or week, chances are you’ll miss something. The time we experience is also subjective, so the time we “remember” spending on a task can easily expand or contract in retrospect depending on how engaged, tired or distracted we were while doing it.
Automatic employee hours trackers solve all of the problems laid out above – creating accurate time records unobtrusively with minimal admin effort. Firstly – and most importantly, from a financial perspective – the data automatic trackers produce is objective and reliable. By removing human error, companies can be confident that their payroll, forecasting and reporting is actually accurate. In removing the burden of time tracking, they also free people up more time for meaningful, rewarding work, which has a knock-on effect on productivity, engagement and morale.
But the perks of smart automatic trackers run deeper than just getting an accurate, pain-free record of your day. They also allow people to grow and evolve in their jobs. With an immaculate daily timeline of their work, people can visualize their productivity and get insights into how to work better. That could be using the average time reuqired for different tasks to create better schedules and estimates, or adjusting processes to remove inefficiencies. It’s also ensures everyone has robust documentation of their work hours to address any overtime or unsustainable workloads.