Ask your average person what a “time clock” is, and they’ll probably picture one of these:
Blame pop culture, or the fact that many businesses still use these clunky eyesores, but the image of a wall clock with rows of employee punch cards beside it remains common, even in the digital age. Perhaps you still think of employee time clocks this way too.
Here’s a more accurate representation of what a “time clock” looks like today:
Employee time card in TSheets
This is employee time clock software, and it provides workers and HR departments much more functionality and flexibility than the old wall clock ever could.
If you’re looking into replacing your organization’s time clock system, or are buying one for the very first time, this helpful Buyer’s Guide will take you through what you need to know about employee time clock software and apps before you make a purchase.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
What Is Time Clock Software?
Common Functionality of Employee Time Clock Software
How Much Does Employee Time Clock Software Cost?
On-Premise vs. Cloud-based Time Clock Software
Is This Different From Time and Attendance Software?
Security Features to Look for in Employee Time Clock Apps
Time clock software allows businesses to capture work hours electronically. Employees can clock in and out using a computer, tablet, smartphone or smartwatch, while managers and HR departments can use the system to do things such as track shifts and generate reports.
Approving employee hours in Zenefits
Time clock software is available as a stand-alone tool (e.g., TimeClick), but is more often part of a workforce management suite with integrated applications such as personnel tracking and payroll. For example, work hours captured by a time clock application can be automatically entered into an integrated payroll application to calculate accurate wages.
Looking at the many employee time clock software options, here are some of the common capabilities you can find:
|Clock in and out||Track hours with a computer, tablet or smartphone.|
|Manual time entry||Manually enter or change logged hours.|
|Time tracking||See how many hours anyone has worked in a given time period.|
|PTO tracking||Track the accrual and usage of paid time off (PTO).|
|Payroll integration||Use time clock data to calculate accurate wages and overtime pay.|
|Reporting||Generate time and pay reports.|
In addition to the features above, some employee time clock platforms have advanced functionality for things like:
The cost of employee time clock software depends on what type of licensing model your vendor uses: perpetual licensing or subscription licensing.
With perpetual licensing, you pay for the software upfront to use it indefinitely. This requires a considerable investment initially, but costs decrease substantially over time. Don’t be surprised to pay $10,000 or more with this model.
With subscription licensing, you pay to use the software on a monthly or annual basis. Your subscription price may be a flat fee, for example, $20 per month, or it could be based on how many employees will use the system—something like $5 per employee per month.
Depending which licensing option you go with, and which deployment option you choose (see below), be sure to budget accordingly. As our Total Cost of Ownership Calculator shows, the costs for each option tends to equal out over time.
Software Advice Total Cost of Ownership Calculator
With time clock software, and most software in general, there are two deployment options that buyers can choose from: on-premise and cloud-based (also known as web-based or software-as-a-service).
On-premise time clock software is hosted internally on your company’s own servers. This deployment model enables you to manage your own data and connect to the system without needing an internet connection. If you don’t have your own servers though, or an IT team to manage them, this option may be impractical.
Cloud-based time clock software, on the other hand, is hosted on the software vendor’s servers and is accessed using a web browser and internet connection. The nice thing here is that the vendor handles all of the hosting, maintenance and upgrade duties. Should your internet connection cut out though, you won’t be able to access your time clock software.
When it comes to software products related to managing employee work hours, there are a lot of names that get thrown around, e.g., time clock software, time tracking software, time and attendance software, employee scheduling software.
Don’t fret. Time clock, time tracking and time and attendance software all mean the same thing. All of these systems have functionality for employees to clock in and out and for managers and HR departments to track hours worked.
The one exception is employee scheduling software. These platforms track hours, but they also often include more advanced functionality for things such as shift scheduling, shift switching and schedule distribution. If that sounds more like what you’re looking for, check out this guide to employee scheduling software.
A big reason the employee wall clock has persisted for so long in all of its variations with thumb readers and elaborate passcodes, is simple: You want to be sure your employees are who they say they are, and that they’re actually working between when they clock in and when they clock out. It’s a valid concern. In a 2015 survey, we found 43 percent of employees exaggerate how much time they work during shifts, resulting in substantial payroll losses.
Photo ID clock in with Asure
When researching employee time clock apps, look out for some of these security features to prevent your employees from committing things such as time theft (when a worker clocks in or out and doesn’t work) and buddy punching (when an employee’s friend clocks in for them):
|Photo ID||Require workers to take a picture when they clock in and out.|
|Lockout periods||Ensure employees can only clock in and out during certain times.|
|Alerts||Receive an email or text when an employee starts late or leaves early.|
|E-signature||Have employees sign with their finger or mouse when they clock in and out.|
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