Time Tracking—Best Practices and Mistakes to Avoid


At first glance, tracking employee time seems pretty straightforward. Your employees simply denote the hours they were at work on a timesheet, or punch a time clock and turn their time cards in at the end of the week or month. What could go wrong? 

As it turns out, the ability to accurately track employee hours is one of the most important tasks a business undertakes. Timesheets and time cards provide invaluable data to your business regarding how efficiently you use employee time, your labour costs, and areas for productivity improvement. 

For big and small businesses alike, finding ways to make your time tracking both easier for employees and managers is essential to improving margins, accurately bidding projects, and ultimately running a more successful company. 

Time tracking trouble? 

Employers have long relied on manual timecards to track employee work hours. Employees either clock in and clock out or they’re responsible for recording and reporting how many hours they worked and when. The manual aspect makes the process vulnerable to errors, miscalculations, and estimates. 

In one 2018 survey, 44% of business owners reported that they regularly struggle with timesheet errors. An astounding 92% of the respondents reported that the errors were typically caused by the user. Some of the biggest problems are: employees forgetting to record their time, recording their time incorrectly, or recording their time to the wrong job. 

That being said, you can implement the following time tracking best practices to simplify your timekeeping and improve the accuracy of your labour costs.  

Educate employees about time tracking 

Make sure that your employees understand the importance of time tracking, as well as how your time tracking systems work and what’s expected of them. With each new employee, walk them through your time tracking tool, as well as the guidelines for how to track time. For instance, let employees know if they need to check-in to a mobile app daily (versus entering data later).

Provide them with information about how long their breaks should be, what type of personal business is permitted on the job, and how they can correct entries if they made an error. Educating your employees will not only reduce errors and misinformation but can also prevent employee time theft. 

Automate your time tracking system 

The next step to better employee time tracking is to get rid of manual timesheets and clocking in with paper time cards. Automating your record keeping provides a host of benefits, from making it easier for employees to document their work time to streamlining the record-keeping for your HR or office administrators. It also provides for 100% accurate timesheets, eliminating the need for time clock rounding.

For example, people platforms like Hourly and many others offer time tracking apps that allow employees to easily document their time when they have begun working. You can automate breaks and lunches so that they’re always included in the report and even set rules so help ensure the employees work the time they’re required—and not more or less. 

Make time tracking easy for your managers

Time tracking poses a problem for some employees, but it can also be the least favorite part of a manager or supervisor’s job. Managers routinely have to collect all employee timecards or reports, check them for accuracy regarding billable time worked, overtime, and correct any errors. What seems like a simple task can take up hours each month or week, especially if managers have to keep track of employee time because employees aren’t good about reporting their work hours.

Time tracking software solutions not only simplify time tracking for employees, but they reduce the workload for managers as well. Your managers will be able to automate their reporting, quickly find missing information and headquarter all the employees’ time data in one place.

Avoid these 3 time tracking mistakes

It’s easy to keep doing things the same way. But when it comes to time tracking, finding small improvements and avoiding common pitfalls adds up to real savings. Sidestep these time tracking mistakes and you’ll add efficiency to your time-keeping system and improve the quality of your labour cost data. 

Not collecting enough detail about employee work hours

There is a fine line between trying to keep timecards simple and oversimplifying your data in a way that’s detrimental. For instance, employees should clock in at the beginning of each shift and clock out at the end, of course. However, that is just the basics. 

Tracking breaks, lunches and regular work hours are required by law. Properly tracking over time is also essential. That not only ensures that employees get overtime pay, but also allows your organisation to better manage its resources and reduce overtime spending. You can even track hours to specific projects, job sites, and more. 

Time tracking tools allow you to document a higher level of detail about your employee work hours. Then, you can generate practical data you can use to make smarter decisions about your labor.

Not leveraging time tracking software features

You don’t have to be a tech wizard to benefit from time tracking solutions. Time tracking platforms provide multiple, easy-to-use features that enable your company to run more efficiently, and frankly, get more from your timecard reports. For example, with time tracking apps, you can: 

  • Know who’s working in real-time
  • Have employees clock in by location 
  • Geofence jobs. The software can send you an alert if employees are not where they’re supposed to be during the workday
  • Set alerts for important issues. For example, if employees head into overtime or switch work locations

Not combining payroll, worker’s comp and time tracking solutions 

All of these things are deeply related. By incorporating them into one solution you can reduce the time you spend, and improve your compliance with labour laws as well as documentation in all three areas. Some time tracking app incorporates payroll, worker’s compensation, and time tracking into one application. Run a simple search on the web, and you will be amazed at what you find on this topic.

Also, you can simplify your paydays, running payroll for employees, contractors and freelancers with the click of a button. Integrating workers comp ensures that you and your employees are covered in case of an accident and ensures that your vital employee information is all in place. Add in time tracking and you’ve streamlined a significant component of your HR function.

Time to clock out? 

Improving your employee time tracking does not take much—and it’s well worth the effort. Explore how time tracking platforms can make time tracking easier for your employees, while also providing your company with increased efficiency, time savings, and more.

Feel free to share this post on social networks. This opinion article is for informational purposes only.

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Brought to you by Kelly Kearsley

Edited by Temitope Adelekan

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