Time and Attendance Systems

Time and Attendance Systems

The employee time clock was invented over 100 years ago - are you still using a time clock from that era? Here are a few reasons why time clocks are out - and time keeping software is in.

The time clock was born when the Industrial Revolution created the need to track the pay for hundreds or thousands of workers. The concept was simple: A clock attached to a mechanical stamp recorded the time an employee arrived and left on a card, creating a record that could be used to process payroll at the end of the week. And that was good enough for almost a century.

How does time keeping software work?

Basic time clock systems provide routine tracking of employee log-in/log-out times, just like time clocks. However, instead of stamping a card, employees simply swipe a magnetic card through a reader or sign in on a computer. At the end of the pay period, each employee's hours are automatically reported to Human Resources, eliminating errors and reducing paperwork.

Buying Tips

  • Take training seriously. Upfront instruction for the users of the more advanced reporting tools slashes ongoing support costs and can be an important motivator for staff to adopt the new tools.
  • VoIP time tracking. Some time tracking vendors now offer time tracking systems that work with VoIP phone systems where employees can log in and out via their phone handset.
  • Choose a reputable vendor. Working with a top-notch time clock software supplier can improve your results and save you money. BuyerZone can help you compare multiple time keeping software vendors.

Some systems include alternate ways to clock in and out. To avoid "buddy-punching," where employees log in for each other, some companies offer biometric input devices. In these instances, employees use their fingerprints or handprints instead of using a card. Companies with remote offices can even let employees use touch-tone telephones or the Internet to report their hours.

Salaried workers don't need to punch in and out. Nevertheless, processing their payroll does require information about sick days, vacation, holidays, and more. Most companies rely on administrative staff to enter that information. But a growing number of companies use software that lets employees enter their information directly, including flex-time hours, vacation time, and sick day information.

Benefits of replacing your time clock

By collecting employee data into a database, time clock software provides several benefits:

Time clock software can also have a dramatic effect on time theft. "Time theft" describes the practice of employees over-reporting the amount of time spent on the job. This can be as innocent as employees who round up the amount of time they have been at work or who stretch a break to last longer than scheduled. Even 5 to 15 extra minutes per day can add up to an extra week of pay per year per person. Multiply this cost across all your staffers and you can see how much it can affect your profitability.

Is time clock software affordable?

Time keeping software vendors and resellers offer packages suited for almost any size business. However, many divide their offerings into two categories:

  1. Small/midrange businesses - Companies with fewer than 25 to 40 employees can get simple time and attendance client-server software, including basic reporting and connections to payroll systems, for $300 to $500, with cloud-based ASP solutions available for $5 per user per month and a nominal monthly base fee of around $20. Considering that new time clocks cost almost that much, it should be an easy decision.
  2. Large organizations - For companies with hundreds or thousands of employees, time and attendance software usually starts at several thousand dollars, but typically includes more features, more robust reporting, extensive levels of support, and can be more extensively customized for your business.

Modern time and attendance software can make you wonder how you ever got by with your old fashioned time clock. In fact, many companies achieve positive ROI within a few months of their initial investment.

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