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Time tracking in today's workplace

Sabrina Fiorin

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Whether you have one employee or several hundreds, time and attendance software can often be the key to your success. But for many companies, inefficient or inaccurate systems prevent them from unlocking all of its potential benefits.

It's important businesses not only know how much time employees work each week not only to be compliant with EU working time directive rules, but also how that time is being used. Tracking every minute spent on the clock gives business leaders a way to optimise procedures and improve productivity.

It sounds exhausting. Truthfully, businesses make tracking employee time more complicated than it should be (which is why they don't do it!). But it doesn't have to be difficult.

Let's explore why time tracking should be non-negotiable in your business and how you can implement it successfully and efficiently.

Traditional time tracking is a headache for everyone

When you think of tracking employee time, what springs to mind?

For many businesses, they're stuck in the time clock mentality. That is, employees use a machine that keeps track of punch in and out. Businesses use this data for payroll purposes to calculate how long an employee was at work.

Though common, this method does nothing to show what type of work was being performed or for how long.

This creates multiple problems for businesses.

For starters, you could be spending more than you really need to on payroll. Businesses may be operating under the delusion that employees are doing as much as possible without realising opportunities to improve or optimise work.

Some sources suggest that about 80% of employees waste time at work. The amount of time varies, but almost 20% of respondents claim they spend at least three hours on non-work-related activities.

Also, businesses can't be certain of how much time real tasks take. This makes filling gaps in staffing needs and resource allocation for projects harder than it should be.

Imagine how much time and money you could save by scaling down your workforce and eliminating unproductive hours from your business.

An alternative to traditional time clocks

Time trackers have come a long way since the introduction of the classic time clock. Employers can now use automated time tracking software to accurately track time spent on projects or tasks.

Until recently, this form of time tracking has mostly been used by freelancers, lawyers, and other companies that bill clients by the hour. But businesses of all sorts can find success when implementing it into their own record-keeping.

Rather than account for how much time an employee spends on the clock, businesses get a more accurate record for who's working on which projects and how much time they dedicate to them.

As a result, businesses are more empowered when it comes to estimating project costs. They can better plan their human resources when certain types of projects arise. Deadlines and schedules are more accurate because companies are looking at actual time spent on projects, not just the time recorded on the payroll.

But perhaps most importantly, time trackers are giving companies a better way to collect ongoing data to help them make informed decisions for their company's future.

5 benefits of reliable employee time tracking

Employee time tracking is proving to be a viable solution for many businesses to optimise their workflows and make every moment count.

1. Reduces time theft

Do your employees pad their time sheets to boost their paychecks? This isn't just dishonest -it's stealing.

Almost half of all US employees admit to stealing time. One study found that employees take about 4.5 hours from their employer each week while another shows that three-quarters of businesses lose revenue from "buddy punching."

Time theft can be a serious issue, especially if you run lean.

Implementing better time tracking can help businesses compare recorded hours against hours actually worked as it makes it more difficult for employees to get away with enhancing their time sheets without even having the productivity show for it.

2. Removes guesswork

If you think documenting the time it takes to check your email is insignificant, think again.

HBR notes that companies on average lose $50,000 due to poor email time tracking. The few minutes here and there they spent reading and responding to email can quickly add up to a major missed revenue.

Using time tracking to document all tasks big and small can take the guesswork out of every project.

3. Simplifies payroll

How much time do you spend chasing time sheets or correcting mistakes?

Time and attendance software eliminates the need for traditional timesheets so you can simplify your payroll process. Tracking software integrates with your existing payroll system to automate parts of the process.

Bonus points if your employees can access the time tracker via an app so they can document tasks and time on the go.

4. You know where your money goes

Is your payroll budget accurately aligned with project needs? Better time tracking can help you answer that question.

Figuring out how long projects take can help you provide more accurate quotes for clients. It also gives you proof to show them how much time certain projects need so you can justify your estimate.

In addition, you can find out whether your team is spending too much time on tasks that don't support project goals.

5. It holds employees accountable

Employees can take control of how they allocate their time. They can use their time records to find their own improvements and increase productivity.

When employees have less margin for error or excuses, they either right the ship or jump off it.

How to implement automated time tracking effectively

Implementing any new process or procedure can take some time to catch on. Since time tracking is only effective when everyone participates, make sure you spell out how the new practice benefits employees.

Take time to ensure your employees know how to track their time and how it affects their work. Let them know company expectations up front about how to use their time on the clock.

Successful time tracking is all about using the right tools and writing the right policies, and we are here to help! Start your free 14 day trial to see how HR software can streamline your HR processes for better results.

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