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Employee Attendance Tracking and Payroll: What Every Business Owner Needs to Know


It's difficult to keep track of employees and their time spent on the job, more so if your operations span the globe. Learn how you can keep track of everyone and consolidate payroll regardless of location or schedule with the latest tech tips.

Methods of Tracking Attendance On-Site

You may remember the large metal punch clocks of last century, which literally punched the employee's time in and out on a thick time card. Technology has come a long way in on-site time-tracking. Business owners have multiple choices for employee attendance systems, some that even track the employee’s movement across the location.

Numeric Keypads

Numeric keypads come in mechanical and digital forms, and you can attach them directly to doors or place them on the wall next to the door. Employees are assigned a numeric code that they must use to gain entry. Integrated systems allow you to produce a report on the entrance time of each employee.

This method is useful for tracking start times and access to restricted or assigned areas. The drawback is that employees can have someone else use their codes to beat the system if a secondary video surveillance system isn’t in use.

Plug-and-Play Punch Clocks

You can mount this updated version of the punch clock on the wall and connect via WiFi directly to your bookkeeping system. Because these systems are connected, employees can clock in and out on different clocks in the same location or from multiple locations across your company.

This method is great for employees who work in multiple brick-and-mortar locations. A possible drawback to these systems is the added expense of a subscription service, but you can avoid this by using an internal or existing infrastructure.

Swipe Cards

Swipe cards resemble credit cards and have a magnetic strip on the back side. You provide employees with a card encoded with their employee information. The card is then swiped through a data-capture machine upon entry or exit of a building or area. The machine records and sends the data to the server where authorized personnel can retrieve it.

Useful for sending data in real time, this method builds on the punch clock concept by reporting access. You can route the data directly to supervisors, internal auditors or your accounting and bookkeeping department. But like the numeric code system, if a card is stolen or given to another employee, the time tracking may not be accurate without a backup method.

Proximity Cards

Similar to swipe cards, proximity cards are usually about the size of a credit card and can be printed with employee identification badge information. They contain an RFID chip that is identified and recorded when within proximity to an RFID scanner. You can place the unobtrusive scanners on walls.

Proximity cards are beneficial when you need a lower-tech method of collecting information on employee whereabouts and time spent in specific areas because it isn’t Wi-Fi-dependent. Just like the numeric code and swipe card methods, proximity cards require a backup surveillance system to ensure accuracy.

Biometric Scanners

To bypass the problems associated with codes and cards, biometric scanners use the employee’s unique physical components for identification. Fingerprints, palm-prints and iris scans are the most popular forms of biometrics because they are easily scanned. Once employees are registered in the system, they use the assigned biometric to clock in and out and gain access. This method is more expensive to install and maintain than others, but it's more accurate and doesn’t require a backup surveillance system.

Tracking Mobile Employees

Not all employees are assigned to a specific building or location. Salespeople, delivery drivers and service providers are just a few of the mobile employees your company may need to track. Mobile apps, wearables, interactive voice systems (IVR) and web check-ins are all resources you can implement for employees on the go. You can send the data from these methods directly to your time-tracking software to provide accountability and ease of reporting to the controller.

Implementing Employee Attendance-Tracking Software

Merely knowing what time an employee clocks in and out is an oversimplification of employee attendance tracking. To accurately keep track of the time worked, there are many variables to consider, including:

  • Rate of pay, overtime and paid time off
  • Billable hours, contract work, exchange rates and commission rates
  • Required audit trails for some markets
  • On-site, remote, flex-schedule or mobile employees

Many experts recommend going with a cloud-based software solution to provide complete, current and accurate attendance and payroll data. This may be a viable solution for your company, especially if you need to connect multiple locations to one system. Cloud-based systems offer benefits such as:

  • Providing mobile access
  • Creating intuitive systems
  • Sharing data easily with internal and external bookkeeping services
  • Automating regulation compliance
  • Keeping data safe
  • Easily integrating with QuickBooks 

Before committing to a software solution, Business News Daily recommends looking for these features to find the best fit for your company:

  • Capabilities for time-tracking
  • Options for accrual
  • Overtime monitoring
  • Scheduling integration
  • Customizable reports
  • Ease of use
  • Integration options
  • Mobile access
Regardless of the type of software and system you decide upon, keep your controller as well as your employees in mind when choosing. Paid employees are happy employees, but that can only happen if your controller has the payroll information needed to pay everyone correctly.
Wondering if your controller has everything they need to analyze your data?

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