For decades prior to the advancements in workforce management technology, tracking employee time with paper time cards was a popular practice. Employees would either punch in and out using a wall-mounted analog time clock or use the honor system and record their hours in pen. From there, someone would calculate employee hours and communicate them to payroll. The challenge with this approach is that it kept the time-tracking process manual and increased the potential of costly errors.
Today, employee time-tracking software offers highly flexible solutions for accurately tracking time, limiting waste and automating working hour calculations for payroll. You no longer need to rely on paper or spreadsheets, and you have access to time-tracking tools that give you greater visibility into your workforce.
The Pitfalls of Using Time Cards
In today’s complex business environment, you need tools that do more than give you a count of employee hours from punch in to punch out. But unfortunately, that’s about all paper time cards can do. They show start and end times, but can’t provide the analytics or reporting needed to manage your workforce with efficiency and compliance.
Here are just a few of the top limitations of time cards that cost your organization time and money:
Time Collection, Not Time Tracking
Employee time cards show a clock-in time and a clock-out time, but those two figures alone don’t help you track trends in straight time versus overtime. They also don’t allow you to see how many hours employees take to complete one task versus another. For example, a time card can show that a construction worker clocked in at 7:15 a.m. and out at 4:30 p.m., but it can’t tell you which activities the worker completed in that time or how those hours compared to the prior month or other workers in the same crew. To get that information, you would need to enter information from time cards into another system.
Payroll Errors and Inconsistencies
A Deloitte survey of payroll managers found that their top payroll processing challenge was related to the accuracy and timing of payroll inputs. If you are still using time cards, payroll processing becomes even more challenging due to the manual entry of data into your payroll system. Even one miscalculation of working hours can result in an employee overpayment or underpayment. And this error can become even more costly if you underpay employees for overtime and run afoul of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime requirements.
No Protection Against Time Theft and Waste
Time cards make it harder to prevent inaccurate time collection, which can occur in any workplace. In fact, one survey of hourly shift workers found that nearly half of respondents (43 percent) had exaggerated the number of hours they worked on a shift at least once. Whether employees take breaks without clocking out or practice buddy punching, time cards make it easier for those activities to occur without your knowledge, ultimately costing you money and productivity.
Benefits of Employee Time Tracking Software
Time-tracking software takes the manual data entry out of time collection, delivering automation to help you track employee hours across jobs, departments, locations and shifts. Instead of fussing with paper time cards and spreadsheets, the software handles those tasks for you. It also delivers insights and reporting to help you manage your workforce for higher productivity.
Time-tracking technology saves you time and money in the following ways:
Improves Accuracy in Employee Time and Attendance Tracking
Time-tracking software does so much more than just collect employee clock-in and clock-out times. It offers several methods for employees to record their working hours, including biometric time clocks, badge readers, and mobile solutions with geolocation capabilities. From there, the software accurately records straight time, overtime and break times.
When there are exceptions—such as missed punches or overtime that approaches company limits—the software can notify you according to the preferences you set. After the Edina School District transitioned to time-tracking software, including automated exception reporting, their on-time timesheet approval rate increased from 40 percent to 90-95 percent, and the payroll specialist’s productivity increased by 50 percent.
Provides Workforce Data Analytics and Reporting
Time-tracking software delivers data to help you understand the productivity of your workforce, how many hours specific tasks and projects take to complete, and the potential labor costs of future jobs. For example, labor tracking and job costing capabilities can translate employee working hours into insights that tell you how long a work crew takes to complete a plumbing installation. Instead of being over budget and leaving workers underpaid for projects, you can bid for jobs using a more accurate estimate of the associated labor costs.
Offers Seamless Integration with Your Payroll System
By replacing time cards with time-tracking software, you can say goodbye to manual payroll calculations. The software can integrate with just about any payroll system, helping you deliver accurate pay to employees without manual workarounds or multiple spreadsheets.
Instead of spending time collecting time cards and counting hours manually, the system does it for you, helping you avoid errors and gain more time to focus on other valuable work. One county board of education switched to employee time-tracking software and saw their payroll cycle go from four days to two hours.
Say Goodbye to Wasting Time and Money on Time Cards
Old-fashioned time cards don’t do enough to help you manage a complex, fast-moving business. Conversely, time-tracking software is the modern alternative to time cards, offering automated time tracking for employees, integration with your existing systems, and insights to help you manage your workforce for greater efficiency. To learn more, see how TCP time-tracking and workforce management solutions can help you level up your employee time-tracking capability.