Track time at work: 5 tips to help your team

How do your hourly employees track time at work? Do they walk in, and start work immediately? Or do they stop, wait for their shift to start, clock in, and then gradually get to work? 

How do you as a business know what hours your employees actually worked, versus what you scheduled them for? All of these questions can be answered with a solid time tracking strategy. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of time tracking, some issues that may occur, and how you can encourage your employees to accurately track their hours. 

What is time tracking?

Time tracking is the act of measuring the amount of time someone is working. The most common use case for time tracking is for employers who manage hourly workers. The easiest way to know what to pay their hourly employees is by tracking how long they work throughout the week.

Some industries require tracking specific types of work to ensure they’re billing properly. For example, agencies, freelancers, or businesses with contract employees, like landscaping companies, may track how many hours they work on a specific project to ensure they’re billing their clients correctly. 

Regardless of what industry you work for, time tracking is a great way to monitor productivity and labor costs for your business. 

The benefits of time tracking at work

Sitting there and counting the hours that you work every day sounds like a tedious task. However, doing so is beneficial for your small business. Here are a few reasons why you should track time at work.

Ensures consistent and accurate payroll

Maybe this is obvious, but using time tracking strategies is the most accurate way to ensure that your hourly employees are compensated fairly. Tracking time for your hourly employees also ensures that you’re staying in compliance with any local labor laws or regulations.

Create consistency with your hourly employees by creating time tracking policies. Using a time clock, or punch card system are common ways to ensure employees are logging their hours correctly. Better yet, try using a free time clock app. Newer technologies also allow for employees to clock in onsite or from remote job sites, or even when their cell phone enters a specific GPS radius

Adequately measures productivity

If you have specific tasks that need to get done, you can use time tracking to help understand how long those tasks take. Does your team need to completely restock inventory? How long does it take the store manager to build the schedule for the upcoming few weeks? Have you given the kitchen staff enough time to prep in the mornings? Knowing how long those tasks take means you can adequately schedule the right amount of team members for the work that needs to be done.

Establishes a foundation for good data-driven decisions

Keeping a regular record of employee hours can help you make educated decisions in the future for how to best staff your small business. If you find yourself understaffed during a busy season, you’ll have access to that data when you need to use it to craft future schedules.

Understanding how quickly it takes for employees to complete certain tasks can also help you establish benchmarks for your employees to aim for. For example, you can expect newer employees to take a little bit longer on some tasks than more tenured employees. If this is the case, you might have to schedule a couple more tenured employees while your newer employee is still in training. 

The struggle with time tracking for small business

While there are benefits to time tracking, implementing or updating a time tracking policy can be challenging. Here’s why small businesses often struggle with time tracking. 

Employees might feel micromanaged

Unfortunately, hourly employees often face a lot of bad management. Time tracking might be something that gives them a little bit of pause. If their previous employers were extremely strict about time tracking and made them document their every move, asking your team to start tracking their time might pose a bit of a challenge.

To combat this, be extremely clear with your employees about how you’re tracking time. Explain how and why you’re using that data. Is it just going to be used to calculate their paycheck? Share how you calculate their pay. Are you using it to also monitor efficiency and how long it takes tasks to complete? Show them the process of how you collect this information, and how you use it to make decisions.

Sure, your employees will still have to clock in to create a log of their hours, but they (or you for that matter) don’t have to spend any time totaling the hours every week. Try finding payroll software that automatically turns clocked hours, breaks, and overtime into timesheets and wages for you.

Manual time tracking processes are complicated, error prone, or inaccurate

While time tracking is a necessary part of managing hourly employees, many common time tracking processes are riddled with potential issues. Old school time cards can be easily forged, and some digital time cards require complicated processes to fix simple mistakes.

Employees may also be hesitant about clocking in incorrectly if processes aren’t clear, or they’ve gotten reprimanded for clocking in incorrectly. Considering that many hourly employees have experienced toxic managers, it’s important that you create an environment where mistakes are welcome and fixable. Especially when it comes to clocking in for work. Be sure to allow your employees some grace when it comes to clocking in. Better yet, make the process as simple as possible.

Using tools like GPS time clocks and automation can help make time tracking easy for both you and your employees. Your employees don’t have to worry about making any small mistakes, and you’ll be assured that their time sheets are accurate.

Submitting time sheets is a chore

Logging your hours and submitting time sheets can be mind numbing. It’s not fun, and the main incentive for completing this task is to ensure that employees get paid for their work. One way you can help your employees from spending time submitting timesheets is by automating the time sheet submission process.

Sure, your employees will still have to clock in and log their hours, but they don’t necessarily have to spend time totaling their hours every week. Try finding payroll software that automates hours like that for you. It turns running payroll into just a few clicks, and turns timesheets into a thing of the past. 

How to motivate employees to time track at work

1. Explain to employees why they need to track time at work

Being as transparent as possible is the best way to build trust. Let your hourly employees know that time tracking is the basis of how they’ll get paid. The more accurate they are with their timesheet, the more accurate (and on-time) their pay is.

If you use time sheets for anything else, like building future schedules, show them how you use that information. That way, they’ll feel confident that the information won’t be used against them in any way in the future.

It should be noted that you shouldn’t punish your employees for making mistakes on their time sheets. If you do find discrepancies in what they report and what you have on file, discuss it calmly with them and work together with them to figure out where the mistake lies. 

2. Make it easy to track time at work

The easiest way to get anybody to do anything is to make it as simple as possible to get the task done. Consider finding ways to automate the time tracking process, such as using location-based time clocks. The easier the process, the more likely it is for your employees to get it right the first time. 

If everyone tracks their hours the same way, you also get accurate and uniform data. Plus, if your time tracking and payroll are all in the same system, this makes a lot less work for you when it comes time to run payroll.

3. Gamify tracking time 

Let’s face it—clocking in to work isn’t the most fun thing in the world. However, you can make it more fun for your employees. Consider gamifying your time tracking process. Reward your team members for consistent and accurate attendance. Plus, it’s much easier to incentivize good behavior than it is to consistently reprimand bad habits.

4. Build a better time tracking system for employees 

Time sheets are necessary for payroll. Payroll ensures your team members get compensated for their work. If you have those two pieces of information in different places, things can get convoluted very quickly. Instead, keep all of that in one place. Using a software like Homebase that connects scheduling, timesheets, time tracking, and payroll all in one place is the best place to start. That way, you don’t have to worry about pulling information from one place to another—it’s all in one location.

5. Open the lines of communication around tracking time at work

Building trust is essential to fostering a strong relationship with your employees. If your employees make a mistake, you want them to be able to come to you without fear that they’ll be punished. This is especially true for anything regarding timesheets or payroll.

Should your employee forget to clock in, or make a mistake on their timesheet, they know that they can talk to you about fixing the mistake before running payroll. If you trust your employees with good work and manage them fairly, they’ll trust you if they happen to make any mistakes that you will be there to have their back.

How Homebase can help your employees to track time at work

Track hours, make schedules, manage your labor costs, and run payroll just in a few clicks with Homebase. Homebase’s free time clock app helps you track hours through a mobile app on your phone or tablet, or through a computer or POS device. Plus, automate weekly timesheets and run payroll, all through the same software. 

Need help getting your employees to track time at work?

Homebase helps make time tracking at work easy for you and your team. Get started for free today

Track time at work FAQS 

What is time tracking?

Time tracking is the act of measuring the amount of time someone is working. Employers use it for hourly employees to ensure that they are correctly paid for the hours worked, but the information can also be used strategically for your business. Good managers analyze the information they learn from time tracking and use it to influence future decisions. For example, use time tracking info to determine how to better staff your team for a specific day, or see how long it takes on average for your team members to complete a specific task. 

What are the benefits of time tracking?

The most obvious benefit is that time tracking allows you to measure how long your hourly team members work so you can pay them accordingly. Time tracking also allows you to analyze hourly data so you can make data-driven decisions in regards to your small business.

What are the biggest struggles with tracking time at work?

One of the biggest struggles of tracking time at work? Implementing a process that all of your team members will be on board with. Hourly workers are more likely to experience bad management and harassment when it comes to payment, so it can be hard to establish the right time tracking strategy for your team.

The most common struggles that employers struggle with is intrusive time tracking and extremely manual, error prone processes. The best way to avoid these struggles is to use a digital time tracking system like Homebase that keeps all of this information in one place, and makes time tracking simple for your employees. 

What is a time tracking system for employees?

A time tracking system for employees is a type of tool or software used by an employer to help log employee hours. There are a variety of different types of time tracking systems. They can be also simple as punch sheets, and as advanced as biometric digital apps. Regardless of how technical the system is, the end goal is to track the amount of time an employee works. 

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