Employee Work Hours Tracker: 3 Popular Options, Their Pros and Cons

Mike Kulakov, February 22, 2019
Employee hours tracker - Everhour blog

Companies often overlook tracking employee hours because they are unknown about its potential and value.

It’s not just about tracking the in-time and out-time of employees but it’s also a mechanism to figure out which task took how much amount of time to accomplish and whether the time spent is worth or not. It helps to analyze which of the employee is working more efficiently and who is spending more time on unnecessary stuff. It also provides data for billable and non-billable activities.

Moreover, employee time tracking is even required by law as a part of record keeping requirements under FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) and many states’ law.

Now if you wonder how to do so, here are 3 most popular options with their pros and cons.

Tracking employee hours with Excel

Excel or spreadsheets are still widely used by companies to track employee’s time. Each employee is typically assigned with his/her own spreadsheet where he/she maintains all the details regarding time and task performed. These spreadsheets are mostly saved to a company server and analyzed prior to invoicing at the end of each week or month.

Pros of using excel as employee hours tracker

  • Excels are ubiquitous: The easy accessibility and familiarity makes excel easy to use for both  personal or professional use. It’s simplicity is the key to drive people’s attention.
  • Free to use with timesheet templates: You do not require to pay any extra fees for using excel as it comes within Microsoft Office package. And you can choose from varieties of free timesheet templates to track each project and employee status or even create your own from scratch.
  • No training required: Excel is quite straightforward to use. You do not need to spend extra money for training to start using this tool. If you are confused in any case, there are lots of tutorials available online to help you with any dilemmas.

Cons of using excel as employee hours tracker

  • Prone to errors with less accuracy: Many times these excel sheets are deleted mistakenly which are challenging to recover. In other cases, the formulas applied are incorrect or employees simply forget to input data in certain fields. These errors later lead towards miscalculations and payroll errors.
  • Inappropriate for large corporation: In case of multiple projects, it’s hard to track time for all the projects and its resources. With the employees more than 30 in number, it’s difficult to handle the spreadsheets submitted by each employee every month. Hence, additional HR might need to be added to handle spreadsheets only.
  • Improper data can lead to legal issues: Sometimes, excel tends to crash and it is often difficult to restore. If you do not have any backup system for the data then this could lead to disastrous result because if certain employee claims for the overtime worked and if it is denied (because you do not have data), you may be taken to the court for pay dispute under federal law.

Tracking employee hours using time clocks

Using time clocks are easy to track employees’ attendance. There are 3 types of them:

  • Punch card time clock: This is a traditional method of tracking employee time where employee insert a paper time card into the machine and it prints out the date and time on the same card.
  • Digital time clock: It is also similar to punch card time clock but instead of inserting paper, employees may swipe a badge or input a code and the information of clock in and out is stored in the system itself.
  • Biometric time clock: This is more advanced than above two methods where an employee is required to clock in and out based on the fingerprint or facial scan. All the information is then stored in the system itself.

Now, let’s have a look at the pros and cons of using timeclock for tracking employee hours.

Pros of using time clocks as employee hours tracker

  • Easy to track attendance: With time clock machines, it is much easier to track the attendance of each employee without any headache. Employees can simply punch in and out while they enter and leave office as a part of their attendance.
  • Reduced time theft: In an excel sheet, employees can easily edit the data to manage their working hours but in time clock machines, once they punch in and out, the data remains same throughout the time. Hence, if certain employee comes late or go early, you shall not pay for the unworked hours.
  • Improved accuracy then excel: Since employees punch in and punch out every time they enter and leave the office, the system automatically builds a record which makes it easier to make an accurate payroll and record keeping. It is also much easier to track overtime hours worked.

Cons of using time clocks as employee hours tracker

  • No real time tracking: Though employees clock-in and clock-out accurately, it’s difficult to analyze what task they have performed throughout the day. Also, if an employee forgets to clock in or out, it can be a hectic process to update his/her timing.
  • Negative influentiality: There will be a calculation running in employees mind for the hour they have to dedicate to the office. Punching in and out everyday for time tracking might leave them being more concerned for the timeliness than being productive during work.  
  • Difficult to fix: Time clock machines can quickly  become outdated and when there are errors, it’s difficult to troubleshoot. You will also need a special training for using the machine and should have a dedicated person to maintain the security standards.

Tracking employee hours using online software

In this era of advanced digital technology, there are numerous apps/softwares developed for companies like you to automate and ease the time tracking and recordkeeping process of each task carried out by your employees. You shall not worry about anything else but simply decide on which work hours tracker to choose and rest of the process will be made easier by the app itself.  

Learn more about why modern timesheet app should be used by every company.

Pros of using online software as employee hours tracker

  • Easy accessibility: These online automated softwares are easily accessible via browser connected to an internet. While some software have separate app for mobile devices, some simply make it responsive so that it works well from mobile browser too. Also, all the system in modern software are cloud based, hence it will be updated frequently and there shall be no any security threats or law conflicts.
  • Real time tracking with no time theft: Some apps are able to take screenshots at random time to make sure employees are working efficiently without wasting time. This will make sure no employees leave the workspace for unnecessary stuff or spend more time browsing on social medias.

Cons of using online software as employee hours tracker

  • Difficult to choose: With the growing competition and demand for employee hours tracker, developers have come up with numerous employee time tracking software. It’s really hard to decide on which one to try as all of them seems promising to provide excellent services. However, till you get to use one, you cannot be sure it works well for you. Hence, many employee hours tracker come up with free trial. You can test them in free plan and upgrade if it’s useful.
  • Expensive then other tools: With so much of options for employee hours tracker, each of them comes with certain cost. Most of them comes with a monthly subscription and if you pay for the product without testing it, then your money might go in vain. So, be very careful and choose the right subscription model that fits your requirement.
  • Need special training and support: Since everything is managed under one app, it might be difficult to set up initially. You will need expert hands from the software provider and might require frequent support for handling any errors till you are habitual with the software. Be sure to choose the app that provides all the support.

Our thoughts

Tracking time using excel or time clocks are tedious and somewhat outdated. With so much of advancement in technology, take a smart step towards choosing a convenient tool that automates your time consuming task. Team Everhour is always here to help you make an informed decision. Simply shoot us an email with your queries at ask@everhour.com.

Mike Kulakov

IT entrepreneur, executive and a former engineer. Responsible for company growth as well as the team’s motivation. Big fan of playing tennis, snowboarding, traveling, reading books, and (of course) I live and breathe our product.