How to Choosing a Time Attendance System

  • Time and attendance systems allow employees to clock in and out electronically via time clocks, internet-connected computers, mobile devices and telephones.
  • That data is then instantly transferred into software that can be seamlessly imported into your payroll solution.
  • These systems do much more, though, than just track when employees come and go. They also:
    • Monitor mobile employees via geolocation and geofencing.
    • Give real-time data on who is working, who is not, who showed up late and who is nearing overtime.
    • Manage paid time off.
    • Create employee schedules.
    • Provide managers and business owners with detailed labor data.
  • Time and attendance systems feature a self-service function that allows employees to handle many time-tracking tasks on their own, including reviewing the hours they’ve worked, their current and future schedules and paid-time-off details.
  • Time and attendance systems are offered as a cloud-based or an on-premises solution.
  • With on-premises systems, you pay all of your costs up front. You can expect to pay several thousand dollars for the software, licenses for each employee and installation. There aren’t any monthly fees for the service after that. However, there typically is no ongoing support or software updates included in your one-time costs.
  • Cloud-based services have recurring monthly costs. Most services charge a per-user fee that can range anywhere from $1 to $10 per employee, per month. Some services also assess a base monthly charge or a minimum monthly charge. In addition, some providers also charge a one-time setup and implementation fee. Unlike on-premises systems, however, all software upgrades and support are included in your monthly expenses.

Pros and cons: The biggest benefit of these digital systems is that they eliminate the need for manual timecards. All of the time is collected electronically, with the calculations done for you. This cuts down on the chances of errors being made. Another positive is that these systems manage all your time needs — employee attendance, paid time off and scheduling — in one program. The biggest drawback to time-tracking systems is that they are more expensive than the old manual method where employees wrote down their hours each day or punched in and out using a paper timecard. Another potential downside is that they often force employers to curb the perception that asking their employees to track their time is some form of micromanagement.

What the experts say: “The goal of an automated time and attendance system is to provide a way to track an employees’ time,” said Warren Steinberg, a techno functional HCM consultant for Executive Alliance. “This can be as basic as tracking working hours or as complex as tracking vacation, leave of absence, holiday and sick time. The most common time systems have an interface that allows employees to clock in and out, either via a kiosk, a laptop, a time clock, or even a mobile app. All of the time is tracked in the system and then is reported to a payroll system.”