Employee time clock: Your guide to time tracking

An employee time clock can be so much more than just a way to punch in and punch out. With the right kind of time clock for your business, you can stay on track of timesheets, payroll, labor laws, and employee performance, all with just a few clicks and all in one place.

What’s an employee time clock?

An employee time clock is a tool to track when employees clock in and out of their shifts. This includes starting and ending shifts, as well as break times.

There are a variety of different types of employee time clocks. A common type is a time punch clock. This device allows employees to clock in and out of every shift they work. This lets you track the total hours worked for each pay period without having to guess when employees actually arrived or left.

Different  types of time clocks

But you don’t just have to stick to the Looney Tunes version of an old timey punch clock. Digital time clocks make things way easier for both you and your team. A digital time clock is similar to a basic time clock, except the data is added up digitally to make it easier to run payroll. It’s important to note that employees can still get away with buddy punching since it’s not a real-time clock app.

Want to go even more high tech? Check out what’s called a biometric time clock. This type of clock doesn’t use traditional pin codes or timecard apps. Instead, it uses each employee’s unique measurements and body geometry to identify exactly who’s clocking in and out. Think of it as what Neo would use if he picked up a side gig at a bakery outside of the Matrix.

If your business employs field workers or remote employees, you can also consider using GPS mobile time clocks. This allows team members who work at different job sites to easily clock in and out of each shift via their mobile device at the location they’re working. 

A more modern approach to the employee time clock is a time clock app. It helps businesses electronically track employee working hours, then connects with your online timesheet or time tracking software to calculate hours and create payroll reports and wages for each team member.

Plus, it tracks attendance and hours worked by turning almost any device with an internet connection into a sophisticated employee time clock. Easy for you, and even easier for your workers who always have their smart phones in hand.

What’s a time clock system?

A time clock system is the process of tracking when and where employees are working. With the right type of system, day-to-day team management can become a lot easier, helping you grow your business and your team.

But before you can move on to tackling bigger issues than that team member who keeps forgetting to clock out no matter how many times you remind them, you’ll need to find the right type of time clock system for your business—and the employees who will use it. 

Here’s what to look for in a time clock system.

A time clock app that makes tracking easy

No matter what type of business you run, you’ll want a time clock system that’s both easy to use and makes time clocking easy for your team. Look for one that lets you track hours, breaks, and overtime all from a mobile device. Depending on how you and your team like to work, this might mean using a computer, smart phone, or POS system.

By syncing to a mobile device, you can track and store all of your records in the cloud. This gives you detailed, error-free records that improve employee satisfaction, keep you compliant, and make running payroll a breeze.

A time clock app that travels with your team

If your team are based out of more than one location, you’ll want to know where they’re clocking in and out from. This means your business needs a GPS time clock.

GPS time clocks allow employees who travel to different work locations to clock in on-site using their own mobile device. Employee time clocks that are equipped with GPS location tracking and geo-fencing capabilities help you stay organized with error-free records, and make sure your employees are where they need to be, when they’re supposed to be.

Geo-fencing functionality can even restrict clock-in areas. This feature increases accuracy and helps prevent fraudulent time clocking activities like buddy punching.

A time clock app that lets you manage time off requests

A time-off request is when a team member submits a formal request to take time off work. That could mean paid time off for vacation time, or unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Look for a system that enables employees to do this easily and instantly, and get an answer from their manager the same way: all in one app. This keeps everything organized and in sync so your schedules and payroll can reflect time worked and time off. 

A time clock that lets you edit on-the-go

It’s no surprise that as a business owner, your schedule is, well, busy. So whether you’re running errands, at the bank, at the shop, or at home on the couch—hey, you need rest, too—you should be able to view and edit your team’s time entries from anywhere. Look for an app that lets you make adjustments when necessary, like when you notice that your key holder has been on break for 3 hours, but the shop has been closed and locked up for 2. 

Benefits of a time clock system

Aside from making time clocking simple, time clock systems come with a bunch of other benefits that help your business run a lot more efficiently. 

Financial benefits

The first benefit of a time clock system is all about money—more specifically, preventing it from being lost. An online time clock system can help limit time theft and buddy punching. These two problems result in increased labor costs for employers, which can add up to as much as hundreds of dollars every week. Time clocks systems can also alert you when an employee is late to their shift, clocking in early or late, and some systems can even take photos of your team members when they clock in so you can be sure the right person is logging the time.

Increased accuracy

Another benefit of a time clock system is accuracy. Without online time clock systems, you might be using traditional—but unreliable—paper timesheets. These can be littered with mistakes that leave you paying for labor that wasn’t performed, or underpaying team members who worked longer hours than documented. But when you bring in an online time clock system, you can automatically track overtime and store accurate time reports, so you’ll always pay your workers correctly. 

Time savings

Forget spending hours pouring over spreadsheets. Use an online time clock system to reduce repetitive and monotonous tasks. The right type of online time clock system can automate or simplify the kind of work that you don’t have time for, but need to do. Like creating next week’s schedule while coordinating time off with peak periods, all while trying to remember which employees tend to show up late to the morning shift.

Look for one that can sync time clocks with scheduling so this type of work is mistake-free, and more importantly, done without the need for those 2 extra cups of coffee.

5 best practices for tracking employee hours

Small businesses thrive when they’re tracking everything correctly, and that includes employee hours. Here are five best practices that your small business can use for efficiently tracking employee hours.

1. Use an app

Paper timesheets, sticky-note reminders, and text message requests just don’t cut it. Use an employee time clock app to track shifts, time off, and performance, all while storing your information safely in the cloud.

2. Stay HR compliant

Shift work comes with a lot of rules, including local, state, and federal labor laws. Make sure that you’re abiding by them. This is one of the most important parts of running a small business—and one of the most stressful.

To reduce the stress that comes along with staying HR compliant, use software that can support your needs. For instance, you’ll want an app that can automatically track employee breaks and overtime and alerts you if a team member is about to surpass their work hour limits. This ensures you’re not violating any labor laws

3. Give employees autonomy 

When employees are empowered to take accountability for their shifts, time tracking gets a whole lot easier. Apps that let your team clock in and out of their shifts from any device and let you easily view and edit their timecards from anywhere help your employees stay accountable, and let you stay organized.

4. Be transparent

Another best practice for tracking employee hours is to be transparent with your team. Be open and communicative about time-off policies, shift expectations, and clocking in-and-out. Being transparent also includes giving employees visibility into their shifts, letting them know in advance when they are working, and sending shift alerts to avoid late arrivals and missed shifts.

5. Sync employee time clocks with payroll

Imagine being able to automatically convert timesheets into wages, easily correct payroll errors, pay your team, file your taxes all in one place, and integrate it with your existing payroll provider? We did.

Managing payroll can be a daunting task, especially when employee time clocks aren’t set up to help. 

Homebase for employee time clocking

When it comes to employee time clocking, Homebase is more than a tool: it’s like your partner in time.

Homebase is an all-in-one team management tool designed specifically for small businesses and hourly teams like yours. With our time tracking app, your employees can clock in and out from their mobile devices, or tablets, computer, or POS devices, when they arrive at work for the day. Then, you can accurately track their hours, breaks, overtime, and personal time off.

Have remote or off-site team members? Simply enable the app’s GPS and geo-fencing capabilities, so you can be sure everyone’s signing into work at the right place.

Not only does Homebase make time tracking easy, the app also makes employees happy. Here’s how.

Homebase helps you build trust

Homebase helps you build trust with your team, giving your employees the tools they need to view their hours and know that they’re getting paid the right amount. More specifically, our employee time clocks let employees access their up-to-date schedule, hours worked, and earnings, and get helpful reminders for upcoming shifts. 

If they notice a shift they forgot to book off, Homebase enables your team to communicate with each other and coordinate shift trades and covers all in the app. Best of all, everything is tracked so you’re paying for time worked, not time off. 

Homebase time clocking also makes small business owners happy—not to mention less stressed—especially when it comes to payroll.

Payroll the smart way

When done manually, running payroll takes a lot of time which can leave room for a lot of errors. That leaves employees paying the price, and potential legal issues for your business in the future. It’s for these reasons that we’ve designed a time clock app to sync with the payroll process, making it straightforward and error free.

Homebase payroll instantly converts your employee timesheets into hours and wages. We figure out totals, overtime, and taxes and send the correct payments to your employees, the state, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Already using a payroll provider like ADP, Gusto, or Quickbooks? We offer integrations with them too, so you can keep running your business—and your payroll—seamlessly. 

Employee time clock FAQs

What is employee time clocking?

Employee time clocking is when team members are able to clock in and out of their shifts. This includes starting and ending shifts, as well as break times. 

What is a time clock system?

A time clock system is the process of tracking employees time. This includes clock in-and-out of shifts and breaks, and can also include the location of where they’re clocking in and out.

There are three common types of time clock systems. These include traditional punch clocks, biometric time clocks, and time clock apps. 

How can time clock systems help to track employee hours?

Time clock systems can help business owners and managers by providing an easy and organized way to collect and store accurate records of employee hours.

Depending on the time clock system you use, small businesses can even use employee time clocks to prevent employees from participating in a form of time theft called buddy punching, where team members from clocking in for late or absent coworkers. 

What are the benefits of a time clock system?

Time clock systems give you the tools to focus your time and energy on other parts of your business, not just tracking clock ins-and-outs. A time clock system is a great way to stay organized, prevent time theft, track performance, and stay up-to-date with compliance and labor laws.

Forget about relying on old-fashioned time cards or pen-and-paper timesheets for employee time clocks. While they might seem like a simple way to keep track of hours, there are many more perks to using a time clock app. 

And trust us, your employees would appreciate the transition from on-the-bulletin-board post-its to online updates. Just saying. 

Is your business struggling with time tracking? Get Homebase for helpful alerts that keep your team and labor costs on track—all in one app. Get started for free.

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