Companies are challenged every day with keeping accurate track of their employees' time, attendance, and whereabouts. This is an essential part of managing a business enterprise, regardless of industry or the type of product or service being offered. Knowing how long it takes an employee to perform a task gives the company a basis for calculating the cost, price, and ultimately profit. This task becomes particularly challenging when a company is tracking mobile employees, or those that work in remote facilities, where the opportunity to cheat the company is easier and more tempting.
Traditionally, a business would need to process manually punched timesheets in order to track employees time and calculate the cost of their labor. When it came to mobile workers, however, companies were relegated to trusting the employee's sense of honesty in correctly reporting his or her time. And even if punch-in and punch-out times were accurate, there were no provisions for tracking extended breaks and lunches.
But just like factories and other places of employment have modernized, so has the means of tracking employees' time and attendance. These days automated time and attendance software employ features like mobile timesheets where an employee can clock in or out instantly from an Android, iPhone, or tablet. GPS location tracking software allows owners and managers to see who's on the clock and where they're working-all in real time. A feature called "geo-fencing" even allows employees to receive reminders to clock in and clock out when they enter and leave a job site.
Modern day time and attendance systems not only monitor employees' working times, they also collect attendance information which companies can analyze to find better ways to increase productivity and reduce administration costs. This includes accommodating various work rules and regulatory compliance, seamlessly working with different currencies, checking payroll, planning future work and running "what if" scenarios.
For companies that need the highest levels of security, biometric systems are available that use facial recognition or scan a digital representation of an employee's unique fingerprint to record when they clock in or clock out. Rather than storing a person's actual fingerprint or photograph, it stores fingerprint and facial templates which are a digital representation of the fingerprint or photo. This ensures privacy protection while security is maintained.
Biometric systems are especially effective for identification verification, preventing employees from borrowing credentials from each other to gain access to controlled areas, reducing time and attendance fraud and 'buddy punching,' where one employee clocks on or off for another.
Some other benefits of time and attendance systems for mobile employees include:
Ease of Use - It only takes a few simple clicks for employees to clock in and out for shifts, breaks, and lunches. The systems also provide instant confirmation of their entry. They can also enter information like job-specific tasks, view and edit schedules, sign off on timesheets, request time off, and send and receive messages.
Adaptability - Modern time and attendance systems can be configured for use by single employees, work crews and managers. Employers have the option to track employee hours by department and work assignment. Other customizable fields can be configured to track additional information like expenses and mileage. Additional fields can also be set up for workers to sign off on after completing specific assignments.
Everything's Accounted For - Today's time and attendance systems are able to instantly capture the date, time, and location of a punch, with or without cell service. This real-time visibility provides managers the ability to immediately address when a punch is made outside of a designated area. Geo-fencing-the practice of issuing reminders to employees to clock in and clock out when they enter and leave a jobsite-can be enabled to automatically clock out workers when they leave a designated work area, while geo-tracking can capture an employee's location at defined intervals throughout the work day.
Compliance Protection - Digitizing your systems and keeping important records on the cloud means they are readily available should a company be called upon to produce them. According to federal law, employers are required to retain specific records containing timekeeping data, and payroll information. Biometric time and attendance systems can be set up to require a worker to answer a specific question before clocking out. This protects against fraudulent workers' comp claims. The systems can also be configured to require employees to sign off on completed tasks and shifts right from the app to improve paperwork trails and comply with any state-specific requirements. Even meal times and breaks can be set up to keep the company in compliance with meal break laws by ensuring employees can't end a meal break before a pre-set minimum duration.
Also, failure to pay employees for all the time they've worked is sure path to becoming embroiled in a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lawsuit. With an automated time and attendance system, at the end of the pay period, employees can review their hours and digitally sign off on them to approve. This means protection from lawsuits in the future.
Many small businesses are investing significant resources in traditional time management strategies and not reaping the results they expected-results that are often filled with errors and inaccuracies due to time theft. Worst of all, these results come at the expense of employees' health, efficiency, and focus, and ultimately affect a company's bottom line.
While a biometric time and attendance system may seem like a big leap for a small-to-midsize company, in reality, it's just a step forward toward fair and equitable treatment of employees, protection from legal action, and profitability.