Top 10 Time Tracking Best Practices

Top 10 Time Tracking Best Practices

September 1, 2022

According to Gallup, many remote-capable employees continue to work from home at least part of the time, with 42% having a hybrid schedule, and 39% working entirely from home. Then there are positions where attendance is a must, like construction, packaging, and more. With more diversity in where employees can work comes new challenges for time tracking.

Luckily, there are technologies and time tracking methods that can help perfect your strategy.

The Importance of Time Tracking at Work

Having a time tracking system at work can sound like a large undertaking at first. But the benefits of investing in a timekeeping system far outweigh any of the initial reservations.

Here are a handful of the reasons why it’s important to utilize time and attendance software in the workplace:

Improve productivity

When team members tracking their hours worked, it can have positive effects on their productivity. According to a recent article by Forbes, by working to improve time management, there can be a substantial improvement in productivity and, more importantly, a reduction in stress levels.

By logging time, employees can understand their own productivity and so can their managers. They can work together to create schedules that work best for them and areas that could be potential time wasters.

All in all, time tracking software can help businesses improve productivity across the board.

Eliminate employee time theft

Time theft is one of the largest problems facing modern businesses. It can include accidental time theft like time calculation errors to more blatant examples of theft such as buddy punching.

Even a few misrepresented minutes on an employee time sheet can cost your business a lot of money in the long run. An automated time tracking tool can help stop time-breakers in their tracks and eliminates the common mistakes caused by manual time cards and reporting.

Streamline operations

The right time tracker can help your business streamline more than just attendance tracking. By integrating time tracking data with other solutions, your business can also streamline other essential operations such as scheduling and even payroll.

Ensure compliance

The Department of Labor outlines many rules when it comes to tracking the working time of employees. From keeping records on hand to properly calculating overtime pay, it’s important to remain in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Following employee time tracking best practices can help ensure compliance with wage and hour laws to avoid costly fines and frustrated team members.

Creating a Time Tracking Policy

Before implementing any employee timekeeping best practices, the first thing your business needs to do is create a time tracking policy. This will be the foundation of your time tracking system and can include the time tracking best practices.

Remember that it’s not enough to simply ask employees to use a time clock to record hours. A clear clocking in and out policy encourages employees to use the system properly to achieve the most benefits.

Some things to include in a time tracking policy include:

  • When employees can and should clock in and out 
  • Who is authorized to track time spent at work 
  • How time is being calculated

Time Tracking Methods to Consider

Time tracking best practices can depend on the type of timekeeping system your business chooses to utilize. Since time tracking has been around for decades, there are many methods to choose from each with their own pros and cons.

Here are a few time tracking methods:

  • Paper: Believe it or not, some businesses still utilize a traditional physical timesheet to track employee time. However, this method is outdated, time consuming, and a security risk.

  • Spreadsheets: A step up from paper, some managers use spreadsheets to track employee time. This still requires manual data entry and room for human error.

  • Employee Time Clock: A better way to track employee hours is through a physical employee time clock. An employee time clock placed in a fixed location, like a break room or building entrance, ensures consistent recording of employee time punches in real time.

  • Mobile Apps: This is one of the most convenient ways to track employee time, especially if you manage a remote or hybrid workforce. GPS tracking can also be implemented to ensure employees are working where they’re supposed to be.

  • Biometric Time Clocks: A biometric time clock uses your unique biometric features to identify you and clock you in and out of work. They are the best way to eliminate issues like buddy punching and there are a variety of biometric time clocks to choose from.

An employee time clock is the most efficient way to track employee time. The exact time clock and software you choose to use depends on your business needs and budget.

Time Tracking Best Practices

With all of this in mind, it’s time to learn more about the employee timekeeping best practices your business should be using.

1. Keep it standardized and simple

There’s nothing worse than an overcomplicated time tracking system. Regardless of the time tracking method you implement, you should ensure it’s standardized and simple for your team to use. This can help your employees learn the system faster and reduce any inconsistencies down the line.

Making sure your time tracking system is standardized helps your employees feel like they’re on an even playing field.

2. Start with a pilot program

With a new workflow always comes a learning curve. If your team is new to time tracking or utilizing a time clock, it’s important to introduce the new process slowly. Even though most time clocks are intuitive, you don’t want to introduce new rules overnight.

Allow for a pilot program and give employees grace if they forget to track time or make a mistake. This time period is all about creating new habits (clocking in and out on time). Alternatively, you can opt for a time clock system that sends reminders to help with this transition.

3. Educate employees

Training employees and managers on how to use the time clock is paramount. Even if it’s as easy as a fingerprint scan, training can help everyone feel comfortable with a new process. As you educate employees about how to use the system you can also emphasize the importance of time tracking and its benefit to increase engagement.

4. Choose which activities to track

One of the most important time tracking best practices is determining which activities employees should track time for. Are employees simply clocking in and out for the day, and consider if they need to clock out for breaks.

Or, if you’re keeping more detailed employee timekeeping records consider tracking both billable and nonbillable hours. This can help provide a holistic view of your team's productivity.

5. Avoid micromanaging

Time tracking methods give managers an overview of their team's time. But it’s important not to use this tool to micromanage. Forbes recommends training your managers on privacy matters and knowing when to be lenient about things like emergencies that could affect an employee’s timekeeping for the day.

6. Use positive reinforcement

The best way to get your team to properly engage with time tracking is through positive reinforcement. Instead of punishing mistakes, make sure to send warnings and conduct training. Always lead by example and reward employees who do follow time tracking policies.

7. Maintain trust with your team

Time tracking should never feel like an invasion of your team’s privacy. While your time tracking policy is important, it should also be flexible and managers should understand emergencies happen and employees may not be able to track every minute of their day.

8. Have the right access security in place

Make sure the right people can access the right solutions. Employees should be able to track their time (and not be able to buddy punch). At the same time, managers should be able to access more employee information necessary for scheduling, payroll, and more. This data should be accessible yet secure.

9. Leverage time clock data

Don’t let your employee work data be stagnant. Use the data from your employee time tracking to make strategic decisions for your business. Maybe this means hiring more staff to reduce the need for overtime or allowing for flexible schedules so employees can work when they’re the most productive.

10. Choose the right time clock for your team

Finally, remember that not all time clocks are created equal. An important time tracking best practice is to choose a time clock that works for your business (including your team and your budget). Don’t simply invest in the first time clock or the most expensive option you see.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a time clock system for your organization.

When you’re ready to implement the best employee timekeeping system, work with Lathem. Learn more about our time clock systems today.