Accurately tracking time is essential to ensuring employees are paid fairly and that labor costs are justified. It’s also crucial for maintaining regulatory compliance and understanding how your business allocates time and resources.
On the flip side, inaccurate and inconsistent time tracking can lead to errors in billing and invoicing, make it difficult to accurately schedule workers, and skew decision-making.
However, your employees may find it difficult or confusing to track their time. You may also struggle to get workers on board and committed to accurately tracking their time. Or maybe you’re dealing with issues like time theft or payroll errors that you need to address with better time tracking practices.
- Inaccurate and inconsistent time tracking can lead to mistakes and cost your company money.
- Implementing strategies to ensure accurate, consistent time tracking can help you avoid costly errors, optimize workflows, allocate resources more effectively, and more.
- We share 9 proven strategies for error-free, consistent time tracking.
- A digital time-tracker is a great place to start. These tools include numerous features to help you develop a culture of fair and consistent time tracking.
In this article, we look at 9 proven ways to ensure your time tracking data is accurate and that your employees are tracking their time consistently and fairly.
Use a Digital Time Tracking Tool
The best way to transform your timekeeping system is to go digital. Modern time tracking tools can save you time and help you maintain accurate employee hours, thanks to features like digital timesheets and break, absence, and overtime management.
Time tracking apps enable workers to accurately track their hours from anywhere using just their mobile device. The right application will also let workers view their shifts, review and request changes to their timesheets, and request paid time off (PTO) or other leave. And timely notifications will prevent employees from forgetting to clock in or out at the start and end of their shift.
In addition, many time trackers offer extra security measures like geofencing, GPS location tracking, and ID verification. You can restrict clocking in and out to a specific location, verify workers’ real-time locations, and effectively eliminate buddy punching.
Finally, the real-time reporting features offered by many digital employee time tracking tools give you insights into productivity, labor costs, time spent on projects, and more. This allows you to save costs, schedule workers appropriately, and stay compliant.
Include Time Tracking In Your Onboarding and Training
You can get new employees started on the right foot by including time tracking training in your onboarding process. This documentation should detail how your system works and what employees’ responsibilities are.
For the best results, include a visual demonstration, along with documentation outlining expected timekeeping practices.
For example, you’ll likely want to cover:
- How to download and use the software or mobile app
- Why tracking time is important for the business and the employee
- The importance of tracking time in real time (as you work)
- When to punch in and out, and how to deal with breaks
- How to request changes to time entries or timesheets
- How to request approval for overtime or paid time off
- How GPS tracking and geofencing works, if necessary
Making this documentation available to existing staff as well will allow them to double-check best practices if they have any questions. This could be in the form of a paper document, a digital document, or as part of a company knowledge base.
Regularly Audit Timesheets to Spot Problems
Regularly reviewing your timesheets and time tracking data will help you catch potentially costly errors before payroll or embarrassing slip-ups when invoicing clients.
It will also allow you to identify which of your workers are having the most difficulty with consistently and accurately tracking their time and offer additional training as needed.
Finally, it will help you stay compliant with local and federal laws and ensure employees are working an appropriate number of hours. This not only helps them maintain a healthy work-life balance, but it can also save your business extra costs in overtime payments.
Here are some things to watch out for:
- Time entries that go over 10 hours or span multiple days. In most cases, this means the employee simply forgot to clock out and the entry needs to be adjusted.
- Excessive overtime entries. Whether by mistake or from actual overtime hours, you’ll want to keep an eye on these.
- Entries that aren’t properly categorized or tagged. Ask workers to update their time entries so everything is properly matched to a client or project.
- Entries that don’t match employees’ schedules. Check in with workers to ensure they were working outside their scheduled time for good reason.
The best time tracking solutions have tools that highlight discrepancies and potential errors for you, which makes auditing timesheets even easier.
Take Advantage of Built-In Automations
One of the easiest ways to maintain consistency is to automate many of the more repetitive tasks associated with time tracking.
There are quite a few things that you can automate with the right tool, including:
- Overtime management
- Time off management
- Break management
- Automatic clocking out (based on a schedule)
- Creating and exporting timesheet
- Wage management
- Payroll and tax submissions
- Employee reminders
Making full use of automations also minimizes the risk of human error, which can greatly improve the accuracy of your time tracking data. Plus, it saves you time and makes it easier to manage larger workforces.
Divide Time Up by Project, Client, and/or Task
Having employees track their time by client, job site, or task can give you a better view of where time is being spent.
You can also require employees to add a short description of what they’ve worked on to each of their time entries. This can help ensure time data is accurate when it comes time to generate invoices.
The best way to do this is with a standardized system that’s clear and easy to follow. For example, you could standardize how clients, projects, and tasks are named, and use a preset list of tasks or task categories.
Employees simply need to choose from the preset options when tracking time, making a system like this very easy to use.
A few minutes’ extra work setting everything up will pay dividends in the long run.
Use Geofencing, GPS Tracking and Biometric Data to Limit Time Theft and Buddy Punching
Many digital time trackers today include GPS tracking, which allows you to verify employee locations as they clock in and out, or while they’re on the job. This helps reduce the risk of time theft or inaccurate timesheets, and can also help keep workers safe.
Similarly, geofencing allows you to limit where workers can clock in and out from. Simply trace out a region on a map to set up the geofence, and you can restrict workers to only clocking in once they’re on the jobsite or client location.
Finally, using a solution that supports biometric identity verification, such as having workers take a selfie as they clock in from a shared kiosk, can help eliminate buddy punching.
Harness Time Tracking Data to Continue Improving
Collecting and visualizing time tracking data is one of the best ways to monitor the success of your system and how it’s being used. With the right data, you can view an array of information about various topics, including:
- Overtime and labor costs
- Employee productivity
- Resource allocation
- Project management
- Billing and invoicing
Using this data appropriately can help you make clever business decisions. For example, you might need to roster more people for shifts where you see regular overtime. Similarly, you can use time data to ensure your client invoices are accurate.
The Bottom Line
Accurately tracking employee time is essential for any business, as inaccuracies can cause payroll errors and poor management decisions. One of the best strategies for accurate timekeeping is using a digital time tracking tool, which can simplify the process and save you time.
You should also ensure adequate training is provided, use automations, and define clear time tracking rules. Using GPS tools can help ensure accuracy, and biometrics reduce the risk of time theft and buddy punching.
Each of the strategies on this list is proven to work, and we’d recommend implementing as many as possible to ensure you’re accurately and consistently tracking employee hours.
BoomTax, The Boom Post, and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors prior to engaging in any transaction.