No. Tracking employee time makes sense for some situations and organizations and it doesn’t in other situations or organizations.
In fact, at Jibble we have certain teams we track time and activity for – for example those paid by the hour – and for other teams we don’t. In fact, for most of our staff, the key thing we do track is their performance and output.
The key here is to identify why you need to track time and then how to go about it.
Generally, for staff that need to be on-site, such as at a restaurant, hospital, construction site, etc… it can make a lot of sense to track attendance because if staff aren’t there, they can’t do their job.
Here are just a few time and attendance systems:
- No monitoring, just relying on a physical presence.
- This works well for very small teams.
- Pen and paper
- Again, it could work well for small teams where time needs to be recorded. Of course, it is open to abuse.
- Card-based punch clocks
- Systemized but open to abuse, time-consuming to get the data from the cards, the cards are not backed up, and all of it is prone to errors. Again, this could work well for small organizations where the team visibility is high.
- Electronic (non-cloud-based) punch clocks
- Typically expensive to set up, they become obsolete quickly, the data isn’t available real time, and the data is not backed up.
- A cloud-based time and attendance software.
- Yes, we’re selling this, but this is the way forward because it addresses all the issues of the other systems – which is why they’ve become so popular.
Yes, most time and attendance systems would also produce timesheets, and most would also provide them in many several formats.
Time tracking software is a generic term for software that does exactly as it says which is to track time
The key thing is that it could be used for desk-based employees as well as on-site ones.
Time and attendance is a subset of time tracking, and given the word ‘attendance’ it implies it’s for on-site employees.
Buddy punching is when one employee asks another to clock in or out for him. Not only is it fraud, it’s also demotivating for those who watch it happen as their colleagues are getting paid without working.
That’s why you have biometric attendance which is another way of saying attendance using biological data such as fingerprint, face recognition, or voice (which we’ve not yet seen). Pair that with either the attendance system being in a fixed location or using the GPS of a phone or tablet, and now you have both the correct person and the location at the given time being recorded.
Some systems use an RFID card attendance or NFC card attendance, but of course, systems that use cards are prone to buddy punching. This may work well in a high-visibility area such as an area with CCTV. Other software use phones instead of cards and while phones can be given to colleagues many will be reluctant to do so as it means they can’t use their phone. Jibble supports this feature with “device lock” which means that only their particular phone can be used to clock themselves in and out.
An employer can’t force an employee to use an app on the employee’s mobile unless it’s explicitly stated in the contract.
But the reality is that an employer and employee should have some level of understanding to maintain a good working relationship, and so an employee answering their mobile or using it to track time if asked would normally be considered reasonable.
There aren’t many free ones, but the ones that are, make money by charging for optional upgrades.
Communication is really important, as well as setting expectations. Tracking attendance means employees being paid fairly, and employers paying fairly, and that’s a key message to get across.
Most are indeed trying to solve the same problem, i.e. to track time and attendance. However, each has its own strengths, price, methods of clocking in and out, and, perhaps most importantly, each has varying levels of execution – a time and attendance software that makes it difficult for employees to actually clock in and out is ultimately going to cause a lot more problems than it solves.
Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that when you go for an attendance tracker, you’re not buying the product but investing in it as the product will change over time and it’s difficult to change systems. So it’s worth ensuring the system is improving and that customer support is responsive.
Tracking employee attendance is perfectly legal in every jurisdiction in the world as employers essentially need to know where their staff are.
In fact, in many developed countries, time tracking has become required by law in some way, shape or form, to protect employees from being overworked and to ensure they are paid any overtime due, but lack of awareness means such laws are rarely enforced.
Yes, because leave tracking and time and attendance are mutually dependent.
Here are some time tracking questions you were afraid to ask!