No matter the size of your business, if you’re looking to grow, one of your top priorities should be maximizing the productivity and efficiency of your workforce. But for small- and medium-sized businesses—who often don’t have the same tolerance for lost time or schedule inaccuracies—being able to accurately track and manage employee hours is absolutely vital.
This is especially true given the current economic climate, with distributed workforces becoming commonplace at the same time many businesses are forced to operate on the thinnest possible margins.
Luckily, modern time and attendance software can be a powerful and cost-effective tool for growth. The right solution will not only give you the flexibility to track, adjust and manage employee schedules from anywhere, but also will seamlessly integrate with payroll and reporting systems to keep operations running smoothly and efficiently—no matter where your employees put in their time.
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What is a Time and Attendance System?
You might call it timeclock software, a work management solution, an employee punch clock, or even just a filing cabinet full of timesheets (though we hope you aren’t using the latter). Essentially, it’s the system you use to keep track of the hours your employees work in order to equitably distribute wages.
Some systems work better than others, and, frankly, the manual approaches of the past are quickly becoming obsolete. Today’s solutions usually feature a combination of software and hardware, require little more than an internet connection and a smart device, make it easy for employees to accurately track time, and enable business owners to efficiently manage schedules and process payroll.
What are the Benefits?
Other than making your life easier, a good time and attendance system offers a number of immediate and important benefits, including:
- Ensuring compliance with wage and hour laws
- Eliminating wage theft (including common methods like “buddy punching”)
- Reducing unauthorized overtime (and calculating accurate pay for authorized OT)
- Delivering accurate and detailed reporting of labor hours that meets your specific industry standards
3 Reasons Upgrading Your Time and Attendance System Should be Part of Your Growth Strategy
1. Times—and Time-Tracking Systems—Have Changed
Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many workforces have shifted to either partial or complete work-from-home status. In fact, about 1-in-4 workers is currently remote, and the number of job postings mentioning remote-only schedules has more than doubled.
On one hand, this is a good thing, as many employees report feeling more productive and fulfilled with the option of a flexible schedule. However, it also complicates the task of tracking hourly roles, particularly for businesses that had been using a manual system—like shared spreadsheets—prior to shifting to a work-from-home policy.
This is where modern software can make a massive difference. Not only does it allow both you and your employees a great deal of flexibility (for instance, using a smartphone app to track hours), but it also makes it possible to eliminate time drain and human-error issues while ensuring fairness and accountability across your organization.
2. You Can’t Afford to Lose Time When You’re Trying to Grow
Growth, by definition, means expansion; you’re increasing the scale and scope of what your company does over time. But, there are only 24 hours in a day. If you simply maintain the same allocation of resources (including the human kind), you’ll end up plateauing, rather than actually meeting your objectives. When you’re implementing a growth strategy, every hour you and your employees spend on a given task becomes even more valuable. It’s absolutely vital to ensure you’re accurately tracking and tactically managing that time.
Tracking and managing time, unfortunately, takes time—both yours and your workers’. And the more time you spend on timesheets and schedules, the less you have to devote to business-critical tasks. By modernizing your processes with a digital system, you can drastically reduce the burden of tracking hours across your workforce, improve the accuracy of hours billed, and gain better insight into how your invaluable human resources can be best allocated.
3. The Bigger You Get, The More You Have to Manage
Naturally, as you bring on more employees, the task of managing those employees’ hours—and remuneration—becomes more complex and time-intensive. If the timeclock system you used in the past isn’t able to scale with you, it can rapidly become a point of friction that ends up holding you back. Conversely, if you overreach for an expensive, enterprise-level solution before you’re ready for it, the cost itself may outweigh the benefits.
Ideally, you want to select a time and attendance system that is customizable, allowing you to tailor the right fit for your business from an assortment of physical and digital tools. That way you always have access to the technology you need, exactly when you need it.
Growth-Enabling Features to Look For in a Time and Attendance System
As we mentioned above, for a growth-oriented business, the best solutions are those you can easily adapt to your specific needs. That said, there are certain must-have features you should absolutely look for when selecting the right time and attendance system:
Anywhere, Any Time Availability
As a business owner, better availability means greater efficiency. The right system shouldn’t shackle you—or your employees—to a physical location. At the very least, you should make sure the solution you choose is web-based, so all you need to access it is a browser and an internet connection.
With cloud-based employee time & attendance software, you are not tied to a desktop computer at one location. It’s easy to prepare employee time for processing payroll from a PC, laptop or even a smartphone when it’s convenient and from any location. Out of the office, working from home, or at another site of your company, employee managers and payroll administrators have access to employee timesheet data, reports, and calculations within the software to be able to complete payroll processing easily.
Reliable, Secure Technology
Payroll and workforce management are the lifeblood of your company. That’s why, when choosing a time and attendance service provider, you absolutely want to make sure the system they provide isn’t going to disrupt your business with unscheduled maintenance, outages, or—in a worst-case scenario—data breach or loss.
Good providers should have a clearly published maintenance schedule, provide continuous and automatic updates and enhancements, and back up your data redundantly on secure servers.
The best support is the kind you never have to use. But, should issues arise, there’s nothing worse for a growing business than having everything grind to a halt while you wait on someone else’s team.
Look for a provider who has a track record of providing effective support—ideally validated by authentic customer testimonials or industry reviews. And, because it’s sometimes best to be able to troubleshoot for yourself, it’s always a bonus if they provide a library of self-help tools in addition to a dedicated, well-trained, easy-to-reach staff.
A system designed to make workforce management easier shouldn’t require you to change the applications that are already working well for you. The right solution should feature robust APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that seamlessly integrate with any third-party tools you’re currently using—especially payroll programs (e.g., QuickBooks, ADP, Intuit, Paychex, Fortune 1000 [Acomba], Progressive Payroll, etc.).
Obvious but important:
It’s worth checking to make sure all of the technologies within the solution itself are actually designed to work together. A high-tech biometric timeclock isn’t particularly useful if the employee time data doesn’t integrate with your payroll application.
An Easy-to-Use Interface
When implementing a new time-tracking solution, adoption is key. If the system is too complicated, your employees could simply end up not using it. Any extra time spent trying struggling with a clunky user-experience is time better spent elsewhere (and, of course, any money spent on a system you don’t use is the literal opposite of a good growth strategy). The right solution should be easy to learn, and make entering, tracking, adjusting and compiling work hours as effortless as possible. A good system actually encourages your workers to use it—and more accurately track their time as a result.
Start by looking for a system that specifically addresses some of the more difficult time-keeping tasks you frequently perform, like calculating overtime, shift differentials, or premiums.
In any business, payroll and benefit disputes are an unfortunate-but-inevitable outcome. A good time and attendance solution should make the whole process as transparent as possible for all parties. For instance, employees should have open access to view their own timecard and benefits information without going to a supervisor, while supervisors should be able to easily and remotely track hours and pull reports in real time.
Innovative Tech (Like Biometrics)
One of the biggest advances in time and attendance systems—biometrics—also addresses one of the biggest issues with accurately tracking employee hours.
“Buddy punching” is the practice of an employee clocking in or out on another employee’s behalf. It’s one of the most common forms of wage theft, in part because for many years it was one of the hardest to combat.
Biometric time clocks use unique physical identifiers like fingerprint or iris scans to prevent buddy punching by concretely validating that the person clocking time is actually who they’re supposed to be. More advanced models, like the Lathem FaceIN Biometric Face Recognition Time Clocks, use technology that allows it to be touch-free to deliver more hygienic, instantaneous and failsafe recognition.
The right solution should provide the technology you need, with room for growth. So, if biometrics aren’t a good fit for your business, look for other tracking options, like employee PIN entry or proximity badges.
Ready to Grow Your Business with a Proven Time and Attendance System?
Over 95% of Lathem customers would recommend their PayClock time system to a friend or colleague, and for good reason. Lathem is a trusted leader in the industry with nearly a century of proven success, an impressive track record of continuous innovation, and an unparalleled commitment to providing the best workforce management products available. If you’re looking for a time and attendance system to grow your business, there’s no better place to start.
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