6 reasons your business needs an employee time clock app

Keeping track of employee hours worked and payroll is an important part of any business. Additionally, employers must comply with federal and state regulations to keep accurate employee records. 

What’s a key tool that can help make sense of this important administrative work? An employee time clock app.

A time clock helps small businesses keep your operation running smoothly without losing revenue or employees because of inaccurate hours tracking. A digital time clock is a great way to automate tasks like scheduling and simplify your payroll. 

Here, we’ll go through the different types of time clocks that exist, plus their benefits and risks. This piece will also discuss some common struggles of tracking employee hours, and ultimately, why every business (including yours) needs a time clock. 

What is a time clock?

A time clock is for businesses to track the hours of their employees. A classic image of a time clock is the time card used to punch in and out of a shift. Those time clocks still exist today as analog, or there are digital or biometric versions.

Time clocks track employee hours—both regular and overtime—and unpaid breaks, so that employers know the total sum of their work for a specific period. All of this goes into calculating employee wages and submitting payroll

What are the types of time clocks and which ones are available as an employee time clock app?

There are a number of different time clocks available for businesses to use—some that go back in time to physical clocking in, and others that can futuristically scan your palm or iris. Below, we’ll detail some of the common time clocks, and how the more modern approaches to time clocks and tracking employees’ hours give autonomy back to employees—and make things easier for you.

1. Biometric time clock

Biometric time clocks identify an employee by detecting a specific part of their body when they clock in or out of a shift. These systems use fingerprints or handprints to identify each employee, but there are a few others as well. 

  • Fingerprint time clock. When signing in or out, an employee scans their fingerprint or thumb to match stored visuals.
  • Palm time clock. Similar to the fingerprint scan, an employee will match the unique geometry of their entire palm to a stored visual by placing their hand on a scanner. 
  • Facial recognition time clock. This is a touchless time clock system that scans a person’s entire face. An employee stands in front of a clock to sign in or out of a shift. 
  • Iris time clock. Another touchless approach for employees clocking in or out, the iris time clock identifies the patterns in an employee’s eye with infrared technology.

A warning: biometric time clocks aren’t legal in every state, largely because employees may be wary of their privacy being kept. Using a biometric time clock can seem like an invasive approach to time clocks. Biometric time clocks help avoid buddy punching in the workplace because it’s specific to the person clocking in and out. This time clock method records hours accurately, and it’s a fairly easy and streamlined way to clock in and out for a shift. 

Is it available as an app? Yes.

2. Manual time clock 

Manual time clocks are often referred to as a punch card time clock, and they’re the OG way of tracking employees’ hours. Such manual time clocks really only track employee hours based on the number of punches on a card. These heavy pieces of paper track down to the minute when an employee starts a shift or returns from break. The (very time consuming) downside is that an employer needs to manually calculate it all in the end, and that may result in mistakes. 

What are the biggest risks of using a manual time clock? 

  • Time theft
  • Buddy punching
  • Inaccurate hours from manual math

Is it available as an app? No. 

3. Online time clock

An online time clock is a more modern way for employees to clock in and out of a shift. Online time clocks are also known as time trackers. They connect an employee with either time tracking software or a timesheet of their hours worked, inclusive of any breaks. Then, everything is fed into payroll. 

Online time clocks can work on most devices such as: 

  • iOS: iPads and iPhones
  • Android: tables and smartphones
  • POS systems

With an online time clock, employers can monitor labor costs, labor leakage, and can get notified if someone is getting close to overtime hours. Employees also benefit from the speed and automation of an online time clock because it ensures their hours are accurately calculated for payroll, and can be inclusive of tips. Plus, adjustments can be made to correct clock in or clock out times. 

Is it available as an app? Yes.

4. Proximity time clock 

Often, proximity time clocks are physical cards employees use to clock in and out for a shift. It’s an alternative time clock suggestion for businesses that aren’t manual or digital. 

Employees use their assigned cards to swipe on a reader device or through a contactless card every time they clock in and out for a shift, as well as for any unpaid breaks. Each card has a chip that is tied to an employee’s unique credentials. 

Risks of using a proximity time clock:

  • Buddy punching
  • Inaccurate hours
  • Time theft

Is it available as an app? No.

5. Mobile time clock

A mobile time clock resides on an employee’s phone or tablet, and lets them clock in and out from that device. Employers can deploy GPS tracking with a mobile time clock so that employees can sign in and out of their shift remotely. This is a useful time tracking method for employees traveling to different job sites that still need to clock in for a shift. 

With a mobile time clock:

  • Employees can clock in and out of their shift remotely, especially if they forget to go into a head office or centralized location where they normally track their work time.
  • There’s a marked decrease in buddy punching or time theft because the mobile time clock is on an employee’s phone, and therefore can only be used by that employee. 
  • Employers can manage a remote team more easily, and trust that their employees are clocking in and out efficiently without having to come into an office to do so.

Is it available as an app? Yes.

6. Electronic time clock 

An electronic time clock is commonly referred to as a digital time clock, which is used to track employee hours with a card, PIN, biometrically, or by logging into an app. 

Electronic time clocks, as varied as they are, have one common benefit: they take the hassle out of tracking employee hours worked. Electronic time clocks are accurate, efficient, and cost-effective for tracking hours and ensuring employees are paid for their hours worked. 

Is it available as an app? Yes.

3 struggles every business faces when tracking employee hours

Tracking employee hours isn’t without its struggles. Making sure your employees are working when they say they are is among some of the biggest concerns. If hours worked are tracked improperly, that’s loss of income for your employee. Or worse for your books: lost revenue for your business.

Here are 3 of the most common issues businesses face when tracking employee hours. 

1. Scheduling issues when tracking employee hours

Scheduling employees for shifts is a real-life cognitive exercise. Like Sudoku or chess, scheduling takes finesse to wade through the chaos.  

Common examples of scheduling issues

  • Shift swapping. How idyllic if schedules for employees were worked every single time. But that’s not the reality for the majority of businesses. Employees sometimes need to swap their shifts for appointments or emergencies, and often, if that isn’t communicated or tracked in an efficient, trusted system, employers can get left without the employees they need.
  • Vacation and time off. Like shift swapping, vacation and time off can severely understaff or hurt a business if not communicated properly. Say an employee writes down in the vacation book their planned time off long before a schedule comes out. Unfortunately, the manager didn’t check it before scheduling shifts. That manager is either left understaffed, or has a resentful employee who has to work a shift they specifically requested not to.
  • Availability. There are a lot of people who don’t want to work early morning shifts or busy Friday nights. It’s critical to make sure your business is staffed properly every open business day. Navigating different availability from employees can be difficult, especially if those are written down haphazardly somewhere and not in a centralized, electronic and automated database that can be automated to show employees who are available to work. 
  • Illness. Employees getting sick is one of the greatest factors to solve when scheduling shifts and running a business. It’s difficult to plan around and just about impossible to predict. As with employee availability, if one employee is sick, employers will need to check to see who can come in and cover a shift. 
  • Overtime. Often overtime work can get missed during scheduling. Let’s say an employee is out for illness, another is on vacation, and your team is small as is. Chances are adding shifts to your remaining employees will result in overtime hours that need to be legally managed. There’s only a certain number of hours employees can work without overtime pay—something not every business owner can afford.

Homebase’s employee scheduling streamlines and optimizes scheduling issues, allowing for fast and easy changes, and the ability to plan ahead to keep both employers and employees happy. 

2. Time theft, buddy punching, and tracking employee working hours

Employers need to trust that when an employee is clocking in and out of a shift, it’s because they were scheduled to do so. Time theft is a major concern for employers, and can be for employees, too. Time theft is when an employee punches in and forgets to punch out, and lets the time linger into overtime hours or pay. It can also be when an employee takes unauthorized time off using paid leave. It costs a business money, employees’ reputation, and a rift between employee and employer. 

Buddy punching is an adjacent struggle to time theft. Buddy punching is when a friend at work punches someone in for their shift, possibly because they are already working and forgot, or for other, nefarious reasons. By asking a friend at work to punch in for you, you’re buddy punching with the potential for time theft or inaccurate hours worked and pay calculated. 

3. A messy paper trail when you track hours

Nothing is as infuriating as losing a piece of paper you desperately need for your business. Murphy’s Law dictates that if anything that can go wrong, it absolutely will go wrong, and that feels truest with paper at a business. 

If an employer is using a paper schedule or a physical time worked book to track employee hours and overtime, there’s an increased chance of something going wrong or a shift lost or tracked improperly. 

6 reasons you need an employee time clock app

An employee time clock is an important and effective tool for small businesses and employees they hire. There are so many moving parts of a business that it’s not worth risking the loss of revenue or employee satisfaction to keep using a manual and paper record of when your employees worked and for how long. 

In less than two years, 27% of the workforce will be dominated by Gen Z. They’re the only working generation to exclusively grow up with technology and possess a digital savviness to be admired. Digital time clocks will likely be their preference because of the way they automate tasks and keep information up-to-date, tidy, and accurate. A time clock app is accessible, gives employees autonomy, and can still be used by employers to ensure their employees are at work when they say they are. 

To understand further, here are the 6 major reasons why you need a time clock app for your business. 

1. Time clock apps save your business money

Saving money wherever you can is important for your small business. This becomes especially necessary with employees clocking in and out of work. 

A time clock app can save the following:

  • No more payments for inaccurate hours worked, including overtime
  • Paying additional hours or an employee to sort through this administrative work
  • Resources like paper not being thrown out every day 
  • Factual data of hours worked and unpaid breaks rather than estimates

2. A time clock app lets you know when employee attendance is becoming an issue 

Time clock apps are mutually beneficial for employees and employers. Trust is a huge part of operating within any business. As an employee, you trust that your employer is going to pay for the hours you have worked; as an employer, you trust that your employee has worked those hours. 

A time clock app can keep an employee honest because the facts are right there, accurately displayed whenever they clock in or out. If you have an employee who consistently arrives late for a shift, you can tell by what time they are clocking in on their time clock app. 

3. Understand real time labor costs with a time clock app

Time clocks are the most efficient way to understand how much money is flowing out through payroll. If you’ve allotted so many hours for an employee to work at your small business, a time clock allows you to accurately see that data, as well as how much that labor cost is proving as a return on investment. If your employees are helping with sales during their shifts, or speedy work is completed on a construction or renovation site, you can see that in real time with a time clock app.  

4. Make payroll a breeze and easy to file

Payroll can be a headache, and a costly risk if done improperly. A time clock app centralizes hours with the ability to easily send payroll and file taxes. With a time clock app, like Homebase Payroll, timesheets can be easily converted into wages, with overtime and breaks and any time off included. 

5. Stay compliant with labor laws 

Small businesses are expected to keep up to date with the U.S’s many different labor laws and requirements. A key benefit of using a time clock app? If there are any changes to legislation at either the state or federal level, they’ll automatically get pushed to the app to notify employees. Homebase’s app makes it easier to stay compliant to city, state, and federal labor laws, and helps employees and employers stay in the loop when things change. The app, too, keeps a record of an employee’s hours and overtime.

6. Automate simple and repetitive tasks

A time clock app automates the work that you need to do but barely have the time for. A lot of these tasks are manual and time consuming, like scheduling, payroll, notifying employees with messages or shift changes. Say you need to create a schedule for the following week. Homebase can simplify that kind of work by coordinating peak periods during a business’s opening hours.

Why Homebase is the answer to your employee time clock woes

Homebase is the digital time clock to make your small business run smoother and more efficiently. Plus, since it’s a downloadable app that works on most devices, it’s easy for employees and employers to track hours, schedules, time off, and payroll. 

The Homebase digital time clock app is: 

  • Easy to-use
  • Helps keep you compliant with state and federal regulations
  • A way to simplify payroll 
  • GPS set-up for time tracking
  • A performance tracker
  • A way for businesses manage labor costs

Employee time clock app FAQS 

What is a time clock?

A time clock is for businesses to track the hours of their employees. Time clocks track employees’ regular and overtime hours and unpaid breaks. That way employers know the total sum of their work for a specific period, which goes into calculating employee wages.

Why should I use an employee time clock app over a manual time clock?

An employee electronic time clock takes the hassle of out tracking employee hours worked and accurately paying them for that labor. Electronic time clocks are accurate, efficient, and cost-effective for tracking hours and getting employees paid for their hours worked. 

How does a time clock app help my business?

A time clock app helps you save money, simplify payroll, remain compliant with state and federal legislation, and keep accurate data about your employees.

What is the best employee time clock app?

Homebase. It effortlessly tracks employee hours and runs payroll, and it’s easy to use.   

Convinced you need an employee time clock app? Homebase helps you manage your team and your time the right way with its free time clock app. Get started today.

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