Some small business owners don’t even like the idea of a time clock.

Maybe they don’t think their business is large enough to warrant the hassle. Visions of punch cards and a line of employees at the clock dance through their head. It’s amazing how quickly a business grows without the owner being aware of the changes that need to come with that growth.

Maybe they think they’re doing a pretty good job with how they handle employee time measurement, forgetting that rounding up or down is hurting someone in some way. Or maybe they think the honor system is working great, that employees are turning up on time and leaving on time and they can keep churning out paychecks based on pure trust.

Hopefully, you can see the problem in these assumptions about time clocks. But even small business owners who are trying to track time in some manual fashion may have not made the leap to an online employee time clock.

What Is an Online Employee Time Clock?

An online employee time clock is a system that allows your employees to clock in and out of the job from locations you’ve authorized, through devices such as a smartphone or a terminal at the work site. That data is then integrated into your payroll system. It is automation at its most flexible, for both you and employee, reducing hassle and error when tracking time.

There are many reasons why an online employee time clock is the best choice instead of a more manual time tracking approach.

Save Time for You, the Owner

Time is money, pure and simple.

Small business owners are often drowning in time consuming manual and repetitive tasks. What employer isn’t looking for automation to free up time?

Calculating employee time manually is a huge time suck. Online employee time clocks put an end to hours of pushing paper and calculator buttons, or filling in cells on a spreadsheet or in bookkeeping software.

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Build Trust with Employees Without Nagging

An online time clock, with its automations, makes it so you don’t have to be the nag. You don’t have to nag for timecards to be turned in, nag about forgetfulness in recording time—you can actually build trust by allowing the system to do its job to “enforce” timely participation and honesty.

It’s not just you, the employer, who benefits from a time clock.

There are benefits to time clocks that employees appreciate. Time clocks act as a clarifier and a boundary; they give employees a clear understanding of when they are at work and on the job, and when they aren’t. In that sense, an online time clock can help keep employers honest, too. Once the system parameters and rules are set, they’re set. Expectations are known.

Gain Accuracy in Employee Paychecks

Both you and employees can appreciate accurate paychecks.

Consider that 49% of employees will start looking for a new job after they’ve been on the receiving end of just two paycheck errors. It only takes two errors to send your most valuable asset (your employees) packing!

If you think that’s being a little touchy, realize that 87 million Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, and that 82 million of them have had errors on that paycheck. Suddenly it make sense—it’s not just a “little” error for most of them. It can be the difference between meeting rent and buying groceries.

You know that running payroll can be complicated on its own. You’re dealing with employee withholding payroll taxes, overtime, deadlines and the like. Why not take complicated timekeeping out of that tricky equation through automation with an online employee time clock?

Get a Heads up on Attendance Issues with Usable Data

Three percent of the employee workforce in this country is absent on any given day, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That ends up costing you about a fifth of your payroll. Hourly employee unscheduled absenteeism costs employers about $3600 per employee each year.

There are a variety of reasons these studies have found for absenteeism to be causing these high employer costs, but two should stand out: wages paid to absent employees, and the cost of simply managing absenteeism.

Any time clock is going to help you keep tabs on this problem, but an online employee time clock makes it much easier to track attendance issues. You can get alerts and see attendance data in a user-friendly manner.

Automation helps spot the problem, reveal absentee trends, and reduces the actual cost of managing the problem by saving you time you’d spend on research. Who wants to stare a spreadsheet and scroll through it to spot trends when you can get alerts, charts, and notifications automatically?

Put an End to “Buddy Punching”

Buddy punching, a form of employee time theft, is the practice of employees clocking in their friends when they aren’t at work yet. Obviously this costs employers both financially (about $373 million annually!) and in trust relationships. This is difficult to control with a manual system, but some online employee time clocks offer a unique solution: geofencing.

Geofencing defines and limits the locations that an employee can clock in from the time clock app with a smartphone or terminal using GPS. While every online employee time clock is different, look for one that allows for employee time clock geofencing.

Give Employees a Sense of Ownership.

We’re already used to being able to manage just about our entire lives from mobile devices and apps. Whether older generations fully understand it or not, old time clocks are almost laughable to your younger employees. They want to add their time, see their time, view schedules, communicate, and check their pay stub against their time…from anywhere.

If you have younger employees working for you, you may already struggling with issues of employee loyalty. Making the mundane task of clocking in a bit more modern may help by being perceived as a “benefit” for employees who appreciate the personal ease of using online apps.

Pay Stub Review Is Made so Much Easier.

Whether it’s for you or your employees, having time clock information online and in the cloud is extremely handy when it comes time to review pay stubs to check for accuracy, or to answer questions about past work times.

Rather than having to call into work and have someone pull files and paperwork from the office, the information on the time worked is at your fingertips.

No two online employee time clock apps are alike; you will need to select an option based on the features you determine are most important for your business and employees. However, any online employee time clock is going to provide you with the ease and flexibility of automation and accuracy, while putting an end to some of the trickier issues of trust and honest time reporting.

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Chad Halvorson

Chad Halvorson

Chad Halvorson is the Founder & CEO of When I Work. When I Work makes work less work for the hourly workforce. Over 70,000 workplaces rely on When I Work to schedule, communicate, and track time with their employees. Since 2010, over one million employees have worked 55 million shifts in 50+ countries around the world.

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