Clocking in and Out: Best Practices for Your Business

Managing your employees’ work hours is an essential part of running a business. Particularly for those businesses that have hourly employees who work inconsistent shifts, ensuring you know exactly how much you owe your employees in wages is vital. You have multiple options when deciding how you’ll track your employees’ hours. Learn what considerations you should look at when establishing clocking in and out procedures, understand the various methods for clocking in and clocking out and review best practices for tracking employee hours. 


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Considerations for establishing a clocking in and out procedure

When deciding on a clocking in and out structure, it’s important to consider several aspects, like: 

  • Industry: Some industries still use manual clocking in and clocking out procedures like time clocks or paper timesheets because that’s easiest for their business structure. Others prefer mobile-friendly options to support employees who don’t work in one place.
  • Location: Your company may have some employees working in a central workplace, some remote and some at a separate office. If your employees are scattered, a digital clocking in and out system may work best. 
  • Compensation: Salaried employees are expected to work a certain number of hours in a week in exchange for a set pay rate. It may not be as important to track their specific hours than for hourly employees who earn a wage based on the number of hours they actually work. 

Related: How to Calculate Overtime Pay


Methods for clocking in and out

You have several options for tracking employee hours. Some companies use one method for all employees, while others use a combination of methods to meet the needs of different positions. Consider these common options when determining which is best for your organization: 

  • Digital portal onsite: An onsite digital time clock is an online tool that employees have to access from their workplace. It saves time and avoids human error, but it does require employees to clock in to work in person.
  • Physical time clocks: A physical time clock uses an employee code or a time card to track when the employee arrives on the job and when they leave, so it’s best for workers who consistently work in the same place. 
  • Timesheet forms: Timesheet forms are physical pieces of paper that the employee fills out and turns in to their payroll manager, usually on a weekly basis, to track their hours. 
  • Mobile digital portal: Mobile digital portals are like the onsite digital portals, but the employee can access the timesheets on their phones from anywhere. 
  • Biometric time clock: Biometric time clocks are like physical time clocks, but they scan the employee’s fingerprint to confirm their presence before clocking them in. 


Best practices for tracking employee hours

Use these best practices to help you effectively and efficiently track your employee’s hours: 


Provide notifications

If you’re using digital software, activate and implement any built in notifications available to help employees remember to clock in and clock out. This is especially helpful for remote employees or employees who work out of the office on job sites. 


See real-time workers

Consider using a program that allows you to see who’s currently on the clock and who’s on a break or clocked out for the day. You’ll know who you can reach out to with a question or project without bothering employees who aren’t currently working. 


Avoid unexpected overtime

Some programs allow you to cap employee hours, which keeps employees from working past their set weekly limit and accruing unexpected overtime. In most cases, you and the employee should receive a notification alerting you that the employee needs to clock out and go home before hitting overtime. 


Keep employees honest

Using a biometric time clock can help keep employees from clocking one another in. If you’re concerned about time theft or employees staying clocked in when they’re not working, consider using this type of time-tracking device. 


Know when employees are late

Use the information you receive from employee time sheets to see who’s regularly early, on time and late. You can meet with those employees who struggle to arrive to work on time to find a solution that meets their needs and the needs of the company. 


Ensure everyone tracks time

The best way to keep everyone in the company invested in tracking their time is to ensure that everyone in the company does it. Model appropriate time tracking behaviors and make sure your managers do the same, so all the employees see it’s a standard practice. 


Offer training

Provide training on how to use your time tracking software or mechanism. When employees feel empowered and educated to use the equipment themselves and know exactly when they should be clocking in and clocking out, they’re more likely to do it correctly. 


Make it easy

Make the clocking in and clocking out procedures as straightforward and simple as possible for your employees. For those who work in an office and must clock in at a central computer or time clock, place it right by the employee entrance. For those who clock in and out from their mobile device, send reminders to clock in and out and allow them to stay logged into the program to save time. 


Record daily

Train your employees to track their time every day. By the end of the week, it can be a challenge for employees to remember exactly how many hours they worked, when they ate lunch and when they took breaks. Daily tracking ensures accuracy. 


Review the data

Regularly review the time data you have. You may discover your employees are regularly working overtime, which means it might be worthwhile to hire an additional team member. Conversely, you might see that employees are often getting sent home early, meaning you might need to reduce your workforce. 


Assign a manager

Ask managers to review their team’s timesheets or digitally tracked time weekly to make sure the data is accurate, and that employees are completing their timesheets on time. This will help your payroll team trust the data and prepare paychecks without taking time to meet with every member of the company regarding timesheet discrepancies. 


Use geo-tracking

Some digital and mobile timesheet software allows you to place geo-fences around work sites or offices. For employees who regularly travel from place to place during the day, you can set the software to automatically clock the employee out when they leave a work site to ensure they don’t forget. 


Assign breaks

Some timesheet software allows you to set specific break times and lengths for your employees to ensure they’re taking required breaks throughout the day. For example, if you allot your employees one hour for lunch, the timesheet program won’t let the employees clock back in until they’ve used their entire break. 

You have a number of traditional and digital options for tracking employee work time. Choose the clocking in and clocking out procedure that best supports your needs and the type of work your employees perform. 

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