Employee Time and Attendance Tracking

1 June 2021

6 Do’s and Don’ts

If managers are responsible for the effective and efficient use of resources, then employee time and attendance tracking can be a useful management tool. You deserve to know what’s happening with your employees, and if there are issues with time and attendance, it can impact your business considerably. According to the CDC, employees missing days at work cost US employers a total of $36.4 billion. So proper use of tracking mechanisms can be a legitimate tool. However, it’s important to ensure you use them properly, keeping an eye on what’s going on without damaging workplace culture in the process. So here are 6 do’s and don’ts to help you make the most of time monitoring technology.

The Do’s of Tracking

Thinking about about the right ways to track time and attendance can serve you well. You’ll find that done properly, it makes it easier for you to monitor a team’s performance and effectiveness. So what are the do’s of tracking?

#1 Keep It Simple

The simpler you can make the tracking process, the easier it will be. If you’re complicating matters with systems that aren’t efficient, you’ll end up spending too much time and money. Employees shouldn’t struggle to click in or report time off. If you make it hard for them, they’ll end up deserting the system entirely.

Make sure everyone knows how to use the time and attendance tracker. If needs be, provide them with initial training, supplemented by easy to use and understand guidelines. This will ensure everyone knows what is expected of them. It will also ensure that everything is being recorded and categorized to your standards.

#2 Use Automated Systems

Automated systems can be beneficial because they do most of the work for you. In addition to calculating hours for you, they can generate comprehensive reports about employee activity. Reports can tell you such things as:

  • Hours worked
  • Employees who consistently go into overtime
  • Patterns of any attendance issues

Once you have clear metrics and data, you can make better decisions relating to scheduling, labor costs, identifying the causes of any issues and offering support to overcome these, or perhaps the need for performance management, disciplinary action or even termination of employment, should it not be possible to overcome persistent attendance problems.

The reality is that there are many time tracking methods – paper, text or email, punch cards, point of sale systems, biometrics, and more. If such methods work for you then that’s fine, but effective management is about ensuring you use all appropriate tools to help your own performance. Since many of these approaches are outdated, overlooking the availability of modern technological solutions can end up having a negative impact on your overall labor costs. Spend some time researching and identifying the biggest issues that you have with attendance and time tracking. These may include user error or abuse, such as “buddy punching”, or it may simply be that your current system doesn’t enable you to calculate time quickly. Either way, choosing an automated time clock that will offer you the most benefits can be a worthwhile investment.

#3 Be Transparent

SMART Goals, SHARP Goals e-guideEnsure that employees understand why you’re rolling out a new system and how it will be used. One of the keys to employee engagement is to ensure they are involved in goal setting and the need for effective use of valuable resources, including staff time. Talk to them about the benefits, what information will be collected, and how the data will be stored. By being transparent, you can ensure that your employees don’t feel blindsided by the new system.

Employees will appreciate your honesty and be more likely to utilize the system the way that it is meant to be used. As your employees learn that you want to eliminate non-essential activities and enhance accountability, they may become more productive. The added benefit is that you may find that employees who refuse to engage with appropriate monitoring techniques will opt to leave. And there is nothing wrong with getting the right people on the bus!

The Don’ts of Tracking

Just as there are things you should be doing when you track, there are also things you don’t want to do. Knowing how to manage time and attendance effectively will allow you to be a better leader and avoid legal woes at the same time.

#1 Don’t Engage in Big Brother Practices

New technologies can make it easier for you to track everything that an employee does while on the clock. GPC tracking can tell you how long an employee spends in a bathroom, how fast they walk from one location to another, and even more. You don’t want to engage in “Big Brother” practices that overstep privacy laws. Invasive monitoring is unethical – and it can land you in costly legal hot water, thus negating the cost benefits of using the technology in the first place! At some point, you have to ask yourself just how much information do you really need? If it doesn’t help you to improve your operations, you don’t need to collect the information. Focus on effective leadership and management, rather than resorting to spying on your employees. Recruit the right people, then train, trust and treat them with respect. 

#2 Don’t Micromanage

You might be worried that your employees are wasting time on the clock. From the moment they clock in to the moment they clock out, you have to have faith that they are doing the job that they were hired to do. Rely on their output to gauge what they’re doing. If you find that they’re not getting enough work done, talk to them. Lay out your expectations but make sure you get their side of the story. Listen to what they are saying and take action to address any issues they may have if this is within your power. You simply don’t want to be accused of micromanaging. If you’re starting to use screenshots or monitoring emails to surveil your employees, you’ve gone too far. Your employees will be far more productive when they don’t have to worry about you watching their every move and knowing that they are trusted and respected.

#3 Don’t Withhold Pay if Employees Don’t Adhere to Company’s Timekeeping Procedures

Once you outline the timekeeping procedures, it can be tempting to withhold pay when your employees don’t follow along. However, you don’t want to do that as it can violate the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and more. You have to pay your employees for all of the hours they have worked, even if they didn’t sign or submit a time-sheet. Instead, rely on other information to determine the hours they worked. Should you need to document their noncompliance, you can do that. Additionally, if employees worked “unauthorized” time, your thought may be not to pay them. However, many state laws require you to pay an employee for all time they worked, whether it was authorized or not. Again, this may be something you need to document if you find an employee continuously going into overtime if they’re abusing the system by unfairly clocking-in early or late.

A Final Glance at Employee Time and Attendance Tracking

Employee time and attendance tracking can offer you plenty of benefits, as long as it’s used properly and you take the necessary precautions. While it may seem easy to play big brother and penalize those who don’t comply, you need to be fair at all times. Used fairly and effectively, such systems can be a legitimate tool in a manager’s toolkit. The key is finding a balance between accurate monitoring of staff work, and fostering their engagement through a culture of trust and respect.

About the author: Pavel Kirijenko is a marketing associate at NCheck Bio Attendance, providing tools for effortless employee time and attendance monitoring.
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