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The best time and attendance software is automatic

Last updated on
September 24, 2021

Creating records of all employee working hours is an essential practice for every business, and not purely for payroll or monitoring utilization. Rich time and attendance records help businesses create more effective and supportive working environments, accounting for all fluctuations in resource availability and overtime patterns. They provide a robust mechanism for ensuring full compliance with labor regulations, and ensure all employee absence is accounted for.  

But all of this can only happen if the employee data being collected is actually accurate. Here’s why automatic time and attendance software is the only choice for businesses serious about time keeping precision.  

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Forms of time and attendance software

For something as simple as marking the start and end of your working hours, there is a surprising amount of software available for the job. Finding the right one will depend on your company size, budget and operation. Here are the three main forms time and attendance software can take: 

Physically-gated terminals

These are placed at access points of a building to capture when employees access and leave a specific work site. They can be set up to read anything from biometrics, RFID badges, swipe cards and key fobs, and effectively work in the same way as Industrial Age time clocks—registering the time when people enter and leave the building. Unlike other time and attendance software, they require you to physically install and maintain expensive terminals around your workplace.

Digital on-premise applications

This software system doesn’t require any hardware; it’s set up across employee machines as a desktop application, offering them a portal for entering their work hours. While these applications can also be web-based, they are on premise only, since employees can only access them via a company’s secure, private network or VPN device.

Digital cloud-based applications

This software offers both on-site and remote access, and is often supported via mobile applications in addition to web and desktop ones. It’s ideal for companies with remote workers or multiple sites, and those who simply want more flexibility around where and when they log their hours.

While many formal, traditional enterprises still favor the physically gated approach to time and attendance tracking, digital software is a more realistic option for most companies. It offers a practical and scalable solution to tracking employee hours, with no real infrastructural investment. Mass remote working during the pandemic, and the subsequent rise of hybrid working as restrictions ease, have also made a physically.gated, single location approach unsustainable.

How to capture time data accurately

The solution you choose means relatively little if it doesn’t, in fact, capture time data accurately in the first place. Automatic software is the easiest way to ensure time tracking compliance, since it removes the potential for human error. However, the majority of time and attendance software is actually manual, and could leave your business vulnerable to expensive inaccuracies.

Physical time and attendance solutions

Physically-gated terminals are now mostly automatic, in that they can use sensors to register timestamps relative to employee movement. As such, they provide irrefutable data for those interested in employee time in a physical place. However, those using RFID badges and swipe cards are dependent on employees actually remembering to keep them on their person.

These clock-in-and-out terminals are the most basic form for capturing employee hour data. As solutions, they don’t lend themselves to wider workforce management, offering little insight or context to an employee’s time record. They can’t, for example, represent when employees actually start work after entering a building, how many times they take breaks, or how long they work on specific tasks. Additionally, they are of little use when workforces are working across both remote and in-office locations.

Digital time and attendance solutions

Digital solutions offer greater potential here. Simple, clean interfaces can help capture and digest employee time information, from basic attendance to the time people spend on specific projects, tasks and clients. But not all digital solutions are automatic. The majority, in fact, still use manual timers and manual data entry. Since it is difficult to remember to start and stop timers precisely, many employees try to construct timestamps from memory. The result is highly subjective and inaccurate—research shows that manual timesheets are only ever 67% accurate—making them inadequate for invoicing honestly and assuring compliance with labor laws.

Automatic digital solutions do exist, but there are very few of them. By automatically recording all employee hours in the background as people work, they represent the most advanced and accurate form of time and attendance software available. In addition to basic attendance, many provide real-time dashboards for monitoring employee capacity, workloads, overtime and priorities. These can help managers balance resources and identify people who are struggling, as well as work out why overtime occurs in the first place.

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