Unless you are an independent contractor, owning your own business comes with plenty of bookkeeping– not the least of which comes with tracking employee hours. In this article, we will examine why you should track employee hours, the most common methods used, and what the future of employee tracking offers.
This benefit cannot be overstated as time theft is an extremely common occurrence in virtually every business with employees and can be devilishly difficult to root out. Tracking employee hours is the best way of ensuring your business does not lose money by paying employees more than they earned.
While keeping track of time might not cost your employee much, it has a secondary effect that is not as easily seen. The more you keep track of employee hours, the better you get at identifying how those hours are used and how those hours should be used, leading to more productive employees.
Time tracking is a boon for you and your employees in terms of maintaining accountability and transparency. For you, you (ostensibly) know how the employees are using their time, but the employees also benefit in that they can ensure their team members stay on task and contribute their fair share.
This is the original form of keeping track of employee hours before we had access to all of the automated and digital options today. It ultimately involves the individual employees or a single employee noting the time that they arrive and leave on a physical piece of paper with a writing implement.
There are a couple of benefits of a pen and paper timesheet with the most prominent being that they are much cheaper to start with, though they may cost more, in the long run, depending on the number of employees you have and your turnover rate. On top of that, pen and paper timesheets do not require any additional hardware or resources outside of their namesake.
On the other hand, pen and paper timesheets either require someone to verify that they are accurate at the time or rely on the honor system. Because of this, pen and paper timesheets are particularly susceptible to timesheet fraud and generally only used for beginning, small businesses.
It did not take business owners long to see the potential folly of a pen and paper timesheet, especially if the business had a lot of employees. It is one thing to verify the timesheets of a dozen employees or less and another thing altogether to verify the timesheets of a hundred employees or more.
On top of that, many business owners wanted to streamline tracking employee hours, so the employee can get to work as quickly as possible upon arrival. This is where the time clock comes into play which sees the employee insert a time card into a slot which is then stamped with the time.
This can be a surprisingly effective method of tracking employee hours and is still used in plenty of businesses today, but it too runs into the issue of the honor system. Because of this, the time clock falls prey to the most common type of employee time theft: “buddy punching” where one person punches the time card of another.
Online spreadsheets are a more modern version of the time clock, offering many of the same benefits while cutting down on some of the potential abuses. That said, keeping track of employee hours with an online spreadsheet comes with a couple of issues on its own that simply shift the problems, rather than eliminate them.
On the positive side, it is significantly easier to ensure that the person recording their time is the actual person and that they record their time accurately. On top of that, online spreadsheets make it much easier to keep track of all the information in a single place without needing too much additional hardware.
On the other hand, online spreadsheets, as their name suggests, require a reliable internet connection and will fallback to prior methods if the internet connection goes down. On top of that, online spreadsheets require some degree of computer and internet competency which may not be appropriate for all ages or fields.
Desktop apps could also technically include online spreadsheets, but for these purposes, we are referring to apps that work both online as well as offline. In many respects, desktop apps are closer to a combination of online spreadsheets and time cards, able to mitigate the drawbacks of both.
That said, arguably one of the best benefits of a desktop app is that it allows you to track employee hours even for employees who work remotely– though online spreadsheets can accomplish this as well. On top of that, it is a bit more difficult and invasive to use the “buddy punching” system with a desktop app.
On the other hand, desktop apps run into the same competency issue that online spreadsheets do with the added caveat that you also need a computer. Despite the name, it is worth noting that a “desktop” app can use a laptop, but there are plenty of jobs where that is not a reasonable expectation.
Mobile apps are extremely similar to desktop apps for tracking employee hours, though they can further mitigate the common issues with user-end technology systems. That said, mobile apps have their own particular issues that harken back a bit to some of the older systems’ problems.
One of the best things about mobile apps is that they are almost “buddy punching” proof as no one wants to give another person access to their phone. On top of that, mobile apps provide all of the benefits of a desktop app without the limitation of hardware given that most people own a smartphone.
Of course, as with all things digital, mobile apps still run into the issue of competency, though this tends to be less pronounced for mobile apps than desktop apps. On the other hand, mobile apps are rarely as robust as desktop apps for either the employee or owner and tend to come with more bugs too.
You could argue that this is the future of tracking employee hours and will become an eventuality for most businesses before too long. As such, it is worth putting down the investment to acquire a high-end employee tracker now as it will only continue to pay for itself more over the long run the longer you use it.
Keeping this in mind, the main downfall of a biometric time attendance system is the initial upfront cost, though it may not be more if you have to provide your employees with the hardware to digital options. Outside of that, some employees may feel like their privacy is violated, though they are not owed that at your place of business anyway.
Beyond those issues, the biometric attendance tracking system offers plenty of benefits even otherwise digital systems cannot compete with. Everything from multiple redundancies to extreme accuracy to a broad versatility and more come with biometric systems with an excellent option coming in NCheck.
Most systems used to track employee hours rely on a single method of keeping records which can be a real pain should one of those two systems fail. For non-digital tracking systems, you rely on whatever systems and hardware exist on-site to maintain an accurate record of your employee’s hours.
Granted, there are plenty of digital options, but the overwhelming majority of those rely on some kind of connection to the internet which may not always be functioning as desired. This is where the NCheck biometric attendance system shines brighter than all but the desktop option– for which it, at worst, ties.
For one, our cloud-based biometric attendance system allows you to keep track of and record all employee hours without the need to invest in additional on-site hardware. On top of that, you can also use our cloud-based attendance system to record or backup your local records, providing multiple avenues and a safeguard against one system or the other failing.
It is worth noting that the idea of a system being “easy to use” tends to refer to the employee given that one issue with legacy systems is misreporting employee hours– often by accident. As mentioned prior, one of the biggest problems with modern, digital tracking systems is it requires a certain degree of competency from the employee.
If the employee does not understand how to work online spreadsheets or mobile or desktop apps, the benefits are often lost to the same issues faced by analog systems. Thankfully, the NCheck biometric attendance system does not require the employee to actively participate in any way.
Rather than the employee interacting with the NCheck system, this biometric attendance system passively keeps track of your employees while on-site. Not only does this remove the competency wall for tracking employee hours, but it also expedites the tracking process, leaving your employees more time to do their job.
One thing to keep in mind with analog and legacy digital employee hour tracking systems is that they generally rely on a single form of input. While this simplicity might seem nice on the surface, it also means that should that initial input fail for any reason, there is nothing to back it up to ensure accurate reporting of employee hours.
This is another area where the NCheck biometric attendance system comes into play with its ability to track your employee across multiple points of contact. For the most obvious, this employee tracking system comes with powerful facial recognition software that can identify your employee as they move from place to place around the premises.
However, the NCheck biometric attendance system can also track employees through fingerprint and iris scans– important for those businesses that need additional security measures for sensitive locations. It is worth noting, however, that the more biometric tracking systems you use the more data you will have on hand which may increase privacy concerns.
One of the main reasons that employee tracking systems are such a big market, and likely part of the reason you are reading this article in the first place, comes down to older systems’ accuracy. Though, it might be more appropriate to consider how those systems are inaccurate…
Thankfully, the NCheck biometric attendance system prevents this issue in a few different ways including the aforementioned elimination of employee competency. However, this system goes even further than that with the ability to track multiple employees simultaneously all in the same space.
On top of that, Covid and the general risk of communicable disease presents no issue for the NCheck system as it can still recognize your employees while they wear a facemask. To make this aspect even better, this employee tracking system can also identify points of contact should an employee present a vector risk.
Considering that traditional digital employee time tracking systems are often “good enough,” it still might seem a bit steep of an investment. However, one thing that few of those systems have is the ability to seamlessly integrate with popular employee database software, requiring you to hire a data entry employee.
As you might already suspect, this is not an issue for the NCheck biometric attendance system as it offers broad compatibility with multiple data processing systems. Even better, its ability to connect to the cloud means that you do not need to worry about keeping that data on-site– which you likely do not anyway.
For example, plenty of small businesses use the QuickBooks Intuit system– and pay plenty to do so– and the NCheck biometric system allows you to effortlessly import and manipulate that data. This biometric system also works with the Tally ERP system, allowing you to keep track of productivity too.
Ultimately, keeping track of employee hours is important for both you and the employee but can present some logistical and infrastructural obstacles. On top of that, getting the tracking system wrong can cost you and your business time and money– a lot of both depending on the system and employees.
However, biometric attendance systems like NCheck allow you to mitigate those issues while easily integrating with your business and its accounting