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The Best Time and Attendance Services and Software 2022

Jeff Hale
, Contributing Writer
| Updated
Jul 07, 2022

Looking for the best time and attendance software? We have easy-to-read, expert unbiased reviews and feature comparisons of the best and most affordable programs.
Best for Automation
Complete HR platform
Built-in automated workflows
Two service plans
Best for Employee Productivity
Employee activity tracking
Multiple service plans
Quick setup
Best for Policy Compliance Management
Visit Site
Multiple punch options
Payroll integration
Time-off management
Best for Mobile Workforces
QuickBooks Time
Multiple remote punch options
Geofencing and geotracking
Tablet-based time kiosk
Best for Retail and Restaurants
When I Work
Mobile app that reduces time theft
Many payroll integration options
Included shift scheduling
Looking for the best time and attendance software? We have easy-to-read, expert unbiased reviews and feature comparisons of the best and most affordable programs.

Best Time and Attendance Software

Keeping track of how long your employees work each day is the key to ensuring you pay them accurately while complying with federal, state and local labor laws. The best time and attendance systems are easy to use, affordable and compatible with the programs you already use, such as payroll software. To find the best time and attendance systems for small businesses, we examined many top options, scrutinizing price, ease of use, integration options and customer service.

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How We Decided
Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.

Compare Our Best Picks

Company Editor's score Best use case Starting price Free trial Cloud-based or on-premises Customer support Scheduling Mobile app
BambooHR 9.6/10 Automation Custom quote 7 days Cloud-based Weekday phone and email No Android and iOS
QuickBooks Time 9.6/10 Mobile workforces $10 per user per month + $20 base fee 30 days Cloud-based Weekday phone and live chat Yes Android and iOS
When I Work 9.6/10 Retail and restaurants $2 per user per month 14 days Cloud-based Weekday, weekend and holiday online chat Yes Android and iOS
Paychex Flex 9.5/10 All-in-one HR Custom quote No Cloud-based Phone and chat with a dedicated specialist Yes Android and iOS
TimeClock Plus 9.4/10 Scaling businesses $2.50 per user per month No Cloud-based Varies by plan Yes, on select plans Android and iOS
Rippling 9.4/10 Ease of use $8 per user per month No Cloud-based Varies by plan No Android and iOS
OnTheClock 9.3/10 Smaller growing businesses $3 per user per month 30 days Cloud-based Weekday phone, email and chat Yes Android and iOS
Clockify 9.2/10 Hybrid teams $4.99 per user per month 7 days Cloud-based Weekday email, web form, chat and toll-free phone No Android and iOS
Buddy Punch 8.7/10 Compliance management $25.99 for 4 users per month 14 days Cloud-based Email, live chat and phone by appointment Yes Android and iOS
TimeClick 8.1/10 In-office teams Starts at $199 one-time fee 14 days On-premises Email, live chat and phone with 1-business-day reply Yes Android and iOS (with some plans)
PurelyHR 8/10 Customization $5 per user per month 21 days Cloud-based Weekday phone and email Yes None
Time Doctor 8/10 Employee productivity $7 per user per month 14 days Cloud-based 24-hour support Yes Android and iOS

Our Reviews

BambooHR Time and Attendance: Best Time and Attendance System for Automation

BambooHR makes it simple to automate repetitive tasks.
BambooHR is a complete HR software solution, with payroll processing, hiring and onboarding tools.
You need to contact the company directly for pricing information.

BambooHR is a comprehensive human resources platform with excellent time and attendance features designed to serve small and midsize businesses. The software's highly automated workflows make it incredibly easy and efficient to manage employee data, recruit great talent, manage compensation, and help develop a supportive and productive company culture. BambooHR is our choice for the best time and attendance software for automation.

Editor's score: 9.6/10

As a comprehensive HR platform, BambooHR offers an excellent collection of features, some of which are not available from other time and attendance software providers. To track time, you will need to purchase the time-tracking add-on that includes daily time entry, employee timesheets, automatic reminders, approval workflow, automatic overtime calculations and reports for payroll. The highly automated software helps organizations streamline everything from hiring through offboarding. That includes automatically handling overtime calculations to stay compliant with policies in all U.S. states and territories. Employers can also automate much of their time and attendance oversight with automatic reminders. You can customize your system to ensure that managers approve timesheets before they are due or to make sure employees update their schedules on time, all without sending a single email or message.

We also like that BambooHR gives users the ability to automatically track employee wellbeing through surveys sent on a monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly basis. The Employee Wellbeing feature comes with out-of-the-box setup, deployment and survey questions, so you can automatically start tracking how employees feel regarding their happiness, relationships, and personal and company motivators. By analyzing the results, employers can gain insight around aspects that may be affecting employee time and attendance.

Read BambooHR Time and Attendance Review

Time Doctor: Best Time and Attendance System for Employee Productivity

Time Doctor's tools and services empower employee productivity.
The software offers ways to highlight star performers.
Time Doctor does not include any GPS tracking tools.

Time Doctor does more than track time; it provides key details that your business can use to increase efficiency and encourage work-life balance within your organization. The platform is especially useful for independent contractors and companies with hybrid or remote employees, thanks to features such as daily and weekly summary email reports that make it easy to track the time spent on each project, client and task. Employees have access to their time-use statistics to easily identify areas of improvement, moments of distraction or justifications for a salary increase. The software is compatible with any internet-connected device and supports Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS and Chrome operating systems.

Editor's score: 8/10

Employers can hold themselves and their teams accountable from hundreds of miles away with automatic alerts for spending too much time on unproductive websites and applications or not returning to work on time after a scheduled break. Time Doctor provides many ways to track productivity, including screenshots at preset intervals, program or website usage, and keyboard/mouse activity. If the tracked computer or device loses its internet connection, the system will continue to record and sync its information once the connection has been restored. While some employees may show resistance to this level of tracking, as much as 80% of the benefits of Time Doctor come from empowering individuals to work more effectively by showing them exactly how they're using their time. 

Time Doctor has three plans that range from $7 to $20 per user per month. The most popular tier, the Standard plan, includes around-the-clock support, payroll, integrations, and all tracking and productivity tools for $10 per user per month. A free 14-day trial is available for all subscription plans. The initial setup takes about 10 minutes for administrators and only about five minutes for employees.


Buddy Punch: Best Time and Attendance System for Policy Compliance Management

Buddy Punch offers IP- and device-locking controls.
Buddy Punch integrates with popular payroll solutions.
Phone support is available by appointment only.
Visit Site

Buddy Punch is a simple and effective way to manage schedules and track attendance. It offers multiple punch options, including a four-digit PIN, a QR code, facial recognition and a username-and-password combination. Buddy Punch also has a unique "text to punch" feature that allows employees who are out in the field or in areas with a poor data connection to send a text message to punch in or out. Available software integrations include QuickBooks, Paychex and Workday to seamlessly sync employee information and time worked for easy and accurate payroll. 

Editor's score: 8.7/10

Buddy Punch helps companies stay compliant with various employment and labor laws across the United States. The software can help manage your team's paid and unpaid time off by automatically calculating overtime, accrued vacation, sick days and time owed with customizable reports that ensure accuracy and transparency. Companies can utilize the optional webcam and device-lock features to ensure the correct person punches in and out for their shift. The GPS tracking feature adds another layer of assurance by allowing employees to punch in only from a preapproved location or device. 

Buddy Punch offers three subscription plans for basic time and attendance, as well as a scheduling add-on and an enterprise option that adds API access and single sign-on. Unlike most competitors, Buddy Punch does not set a price for each user. Instead, pricing is arranged in tiers for groups of employees. Basic time and attendance service starts at $25.99 per month and covers up to four employees. The entry-level price for time and attendance plus scheduling features is $35.99 per month and covers up to four employees. Buddy Punch includes a 14-day trial. Customers can find technical support through email and live chat, and phone service is available by appointment only. 


QuickBooks Time: Best Time and Attendance System for Mobile Workforces

QuickBooks Time offers geotracking and geofencing, as well as mobile timesheets.
You can track projects, tasks and time.
Unlike some competitors, QuickBooks Time charges a base fee in addition to the standard per-employee fee.

QuickBooks Time looks and feels like it was designed to support hybrid and remote teams that perform their jobs across numerous work sites or client locations. Mobile-friendly features such as geofencing and GPS tracking help ensure workers remember to clock in and out the moment they arrive or leave the job site for any reason. Managers can easily track the location of all employees who are clocked in and receive regular updates on their locations throughout their shifts. The platform has a strong list of timesaving features and tools that can save managers significant time in monitoring their employees' hours each week.

Editor's score: 9.6/10

QuickBooks Time's GPS time tracker makes it easy for companies to track remote workers who have clocked in for their shifts. This helpful feature can be used to coordinate in real time, track fleet mileage and remind workers to clock in and out when they arrive at or depart the job site for any reason. We also really like the Time Kiosk feature, which works as a secure digital punch clock for iPads and Android tablets. Managers can enable four-digit PIN login capabilities and a photo capture feature to help prevent buddy punching and time theft. Employees can log in and out securely in about 20 seconds.

QuickBooks Time is the only time and attendance software provider we reviewed that charges a base fee for your administrator account in addition to a fee for each user. The company's entry-level Premium plan includes a base fee of $20 per month and an additional $8 for each employee per month. The upper-tier Elite plan has a base fee of $40 per month and an additional fee of $10 per employee per month. All plans include an administrator account, scheduling, and expert support via phone and chat.

Read QuickBooks Time Review

When I Work: Best Time and Attendance System for Best for Retail and Restaurants

When I Work includes extensive scheduling tools that make it easy to swap shifts.
When I Work offers mobile-first technology, which means it works flawlessly on all devices.
There is no phone support.

Tracking time and building schedules for retail and restaurant shift workers who rarely keep the same weekly schedule can be incredibly challenging and time-consuming for management. When I Work was designed to support shift-based workplaces with easy and effective features and tools for scheduling, communication, timesheets and time tracking. When I Work may not appear to have as many features as some of the other time and attendance systems we reviewed, but that's only because the company is focused on two key areas: scheduling and time tracking. When it comes to its core features, When I Work performs incredibly well.

Editor's score: 9.6/10

Overtime management is especially difficult with hourly workers who frequently trade shifts throughout the pay period. When I Work's overtime management software can help identify overtime before it happens and correct the issue as needed. This helpful feature is an excellent way to control labor costs and make sure everyone on your team gets enough hours. Tracking your team's attendance, breaks, overtime and time off is inherently connected to payroll. When I Work makes it easy to export employee timesheets and process your payroll quickly and accurately, thanks to integrations with ADP, Gusto, Paychex and QuickBooks. The platform also partners with Clair to give employees access to part of their wages immediately after they clock out, instead of waiting for payday. This service doesn't cost an additional fee, and it can be very valuable for restaurant and retail workers who want their money on-demand.

As a scheduling system with time and attendance capabilities, When I Work offers a great deal of value. For only $4 per employee per month, you get access to all of When I Work's small business features. Customers who are interested only in employee scheduling and shift management are charged only $2 per employee per month.

Read When I Work Review

TimeClock Plus: Best Time and Attendance System for Scaling Businesses

TimeClock Plus offers advanced biometric time clocks.
There are several service plans to choose from, which ensures you get a plan that is right for your business.
TimeClock Plus now offers a free trial.

Of the time and attendance systems we reviewed, TimeClock Plus offers some of the most flexibility in its plans and add-ons. The system works especially well for growing businesses with evolving needs. TimeClock Plus distinguishes itself with advanced hardware: time clocks that scan your fingerprint or take your temperature. The platform offers a solid assortment of features and tools for basic time and attendance, scheduling and payroll prep.

Editor's score: 9.4/10

Whereas most time and attendance software providers do not offer biometric time clocks, TimeClock Plus has a fingerprint scanner on a touchscreen device that allows employees to perform functions such as clocking in securely and inputting time-off requests. It also has a unique temperature scanner time clock that can screen employees' health efficiently and noninvasively. This device uses an algorithm to ensure HIPAA compliance.

TimeClock Plus' dynamic scheduling features are incredibly useful for building shift-based schedules in a number of ways. Managers can rely on demand-driven scheduling for peak periods, flex scheduling for real-time changes and automatic scheduling to optimize team shifts. If you use TCP to pay your employees, you'll be pleased to know that the vendor recently partnered with Clair for seamless on-demand payments. This new partnership is ideal for growing businesses that want to offer expanded benefits to their employees without affecting their payroll processes.

TimeClock Plus has three subscription levels that start at $2.08 per employee per month when billed annually. Customers can choose from 15 add-ons, including a mobile app, time clock devices and, for some plans, 24/7 support.

Read TimeClock Plus Review

Clockify: Best Time and Attendance Systems for Hybrid Teams

Clockify offers completely free time-tracking options.
The software works on many operating systems and devices.
Only select Clockify plans include scheduling tools.

Clockify works on more devices than most time and attendance software providers, with support for smartphones, web browsers, and desktop applications for Windows, Mac and Linux. At its core, Clockify is a powerful tool for tracking time, projects and tasks, and supports employees online and offline, in any location and on any device. Its wide accessibility and offline support are why we selected it as the best time and attendance system for hybrid teams.

Editor's score: 9.2/10

Clockify is especially helpful for tracking projects and tasks. The features make it easy to log hours for project management and help you remember what you've been working on if you forget to start your timer. For businesses that invoice their clients based on billable hours or estimates, Clockify is an impressive and accurate way to track projects and stay under budget. Once enabled, the auto-tracking feature for the desktop app can record the amount of time you spend on applications, websites or documents to create detailed timesheets based on your activity. All data is saved locally until you're ready to send it to the cloud, where you can view it from other devices. If you perform repeating activities, you can quickly save your time in a template and then easily copy your whole week's timesheet. Some users even have the capacity to submit timesheets for others.

Clockify lets users access a daily calendar view to see a breakdown of their day's activities. The helpful calendar tool's easy-to-understand graphs and charts make it easy to visualize how your team spends their time and identify where your labor dollars are being spent. Additionally, select plans now offer project and employee scheduling features, which is a great way to monitor employee workloads and project timelines.

Clockify's totally free plan for basic time tracking is perfectly suited for freelancers or very small businesses. It includes unlimited users, unlimited projects, unlimited reports, customer support, apps, integrations and more. For more advanced features, Clockify offers four plans ranging from $3.99 per user per month (billed annually) to $11.99 per user per month (billed annually).

Read Clockify Review

Rippling Time and Attendance: Best Time and Attendance System for Ease of Use

Rippling automatically tracks time worked.
Rippling is a robust HR software platform that allows you to not only track time but also run payroll.
There is no free trial.

Rippling is a robust and easy-to-use human resources platform that helps managers make the most of their week. The custom workflows and automated tools streamline tasks such as employee onboarding, benefits administration, and time and attendance tracking. The platform allows workers to clock in and out for a shift in seconds through a mobile app, tablet kiosk or computer while eliminating manual data entry, syncing issues and late approvals from their supervisors.

Editor's score: 9.4/10

Rippling is an especially valuable tool for larger companies that benefit more from automating repetitive tasks. Though setup can take up to four weeks, most companies can expect to get their all-in-one system running efficiently in as little as two and a half weeks. That may seem like a long process compared with similar providers, but taking the time to establish custom rules for automatic workflows pays dividends down the line, with enormous amounts of time saved in ensuring compliance, controlling costs and adhering to a wide variety of federal, state and local labor laws. Through its recent integration with Carta, Rippling users can automate their equity admin work with no-code workflow automation. This integration also gives users a real-time view of employee salary and equity compensation in one place, which is great for ensuring your employees are receiving proper pay. Rippling's attendance software is very secure, thanks to reliable control features such as geolocation restrictions, camera-enabled clock-in and unique QR codes to eliminate buddy punching and ensure that your employees are at the correct locations for their shifts.


Paychex Flex Time and Attendance: Time and Attendance System with the Best All-in-One HR Solution

Paychex offers a comprehensive platform that allows you to manage all HR functions, including time and attendance.
A variety of biometric time clocks can be connected to the software.
Paychex provides pricing information only for its most basic plan; you need to contact the company for a custom price quote for the higher tiers.

Paychex Flex is a comprehensive HR platform that can help companies streamline their people operations and related functions. The company's cloud-based time and attendance solutions are fully integrated with the rest of its HR tools. This cohesive system makes for a seamless experience to reduce errors during submission of data across devices, locations and services. As an all-in-one HR platform, Paychex Flex can handle all of your team's health and benefits, 401(k) and retirement plans, payroll processing and time-tracking needs with ease.

Editor's score: 9.5/10

Paychex Flex's time and attendance software stands out for its exceptionally wide variety of time collection methods, including web punch, mobile app, kiosk app with face verification, biometric iris verification, fingerprint verification, proximity cards and an interactive voice response system. TimeClock Plus is the only other platform we reviewed with similarly advanced time clock options. Other available advanced features include complete scheduling with easy-to-use templates, shift swapping and capacity tools to help managers build schedules around each employee's availability. Businesses can help control costs by setting overtime rules and receiving overtime alerts with enough lead time to address the situation appropriately. Paychex Plus also offers advanced, real-time analytics and reporting tools to provide an instant view of job costing, labor distribution, time-off accruals and geolocation/geofencing to ensure that your clocked-in workers are on task and that you're staying under budget.

Set pricing is available only for the Essentials plan; you need to call to get price quotes for the other service plans. There is no option for a free trial. Customer support is available via phone or live chat; you also get the option for a dedicated support specialist, which most other competitors do not offer. Although the Essentials plan offers all of the basic HR and time-tracking tools the average business needs, the Advanced plan's features and biometric time clocks are what make Paychex Flex such an attractive option for larger businesses.


OnTheClock: Best Time and Attendance System for Smaller Growing Businesses

OnTheClock's pricing is based on how many employees you have. As the number of employees grows, the per-employee fee goes down.
The service is completely free for businesses with just a couple of employees.
OnTheClock offers limited customer support on weekends.

OnTheClock's combination of affordability, features and flexibility makes it a standout time and attendance solution for businesses with evolving needs. Employees can easily track their time on a tablet, smartphone, computer or any other internet-connected device, thus eliminating the need to purchase time clocks for your staff. Despite the platform's relatively low cost, OnTheClock offers a quality selection of advanced features, including fingerprint clock-in and telephone support, that are not available with many higher-priced alternatives. 

Editor's score: 9.3/10

OnTheClock's web-based time clock software doesn't require the user to download any software, making it accessible from any device with an internet connection. However, if your offsite workers are in an area with spotty reception, they may have trouble recording their hours accurately. For mobile users who prefer the convenience of an easy-access time clock, a mobile app is also available. Beyond basic time tracking, OnTheClock includes GPS tracking, messaging, advanced payroll calculations, scheduling, alerts and project costing for invoicing purposes. This combination of features for the price makes OnTheClock's value difficult to beat.

With a maximum price of $3 per employee per month, OnTheClock is one of the most affordable time and attendance solutions available. The first two employee accounts are free, and per-user discounts begin with the 11th employee and continue as you add users. Customer service is available by phone, email and web chat during business hours on the East Coast. Other support hours are limited to critical issues through the company's 24/7 monitoring. OnTheClock also offers a 30-day free trial, which is longer than average among the time and attendance systems we reviewed. OnTheClock's optional fingerprint punch-in clock requires an external fingerprint scanner that you can purchase for less than $100.


TimeClick: Best Time and Attendance System for In-Office Teams

TimeClick does not charge a recurring monthly fee but rather a one-time licensing fee.
TimeClick is an on-premises system that gives you complete control over the solution.
Only one year of customer support is included in the licensing fee.

TimeClick is unique in that it's an on-premises system, as opposed to a cloud-based system, so businesses do not have to pay a monthly fee for each employee who uses the platform. Instead, TimeClick customers pay a one-time license fee based on the number of devices that can be implemented for an unlimited number of employees.

Editor's score: 8.1/10

TimeClick's unique pricing structure makes the system an excellent fit for in-office teams, and the platform's features and tools help ensure that payroll is always fast, easy and accurate. Employees can clock in and out on any device time clock is installed on – including tablets, mobile phones and computers – with a username and password. Managers can establish an unlimited number of departments and job codes that can be used during clock-in to provide details on the type of work being accomplished by each worker during any shift. The helpful time-off tracker keeps your team's used and requested time off in one place, making it easy to let your employees see exactly how much time off they can request. In addition, custom reporting options for hours, accrued time history and payroll projection provide an accurate picture of your employees' time and your payroll responsibilities.

TimeClick offers four products that range in price from $199 to $649, with one year of customer support included. The entry-level plan includes support for one computer that can serve an unlimited number of employees. The price increases to $399 for up to five devices, with a mobile app to clock in and out as an added feature. For $499, you get access to up to 10 devices, while $649 provides access for up to 25 time clock devices. Additional customer support plans, ranging from $99 to $159 per year, are available with each product. There is also a free 14-day trial that provides ample opportunity to test the software's complete capabilities.  


PurelyHR Time and Attendance: Best Time and Attendance System for Customization

PurelyHR offers highly flexible modular plans.
You can save 10% by paying annually instead of monthly.
PurelyHR does not offer a mobile app.

PurelyHR is a highly customizable time and performance management system designed for small to midsize businesses. The flexible platform is built around six individually priced modules for time off, performance, certification tracking and more. Implementation takes just a few hours with free account setup phone support for the time-off module and unlimited technical support for other modules. 

Editor's score: 8/10

The simple time clock dashboard makes it easy to track arrival and departure times, and you can implement IP restrictions to control the locations where employees can clock in. This module also includes helpful notifications for missed shifts, late punch-ins, early punch-outs and missing timecards so managers spend less time keeping their records up to date. Businesses can easily set custom schedules, overtime rules, timecard approval processes and more with detailed reporting for specific locations, departments and individual workers. 

The required Staff module functions as a unified people portal to store your employee data. It has a customizable interface to support HR teams with onboarding tasks, document uploading, workforce reports and much more. Another unique feature is the Talent module, which helps you manage your team's certifications, training requirements and professional licenses to ensure compliance across a variety of industries, including healthcare, education and professional services.

Plans start at just $5 per employee per month for the required Staff module. Adding the time-tracking module increases the monthly price to $30 and covers up to 10 employees, with discounts available for larger teams. The plan that includes every available module costs less than $100 per month for up to 10 employees when billed annually. PurelyHR offers a 21-day free trial, which is about a week longer than most competitors' free trials. Phone and email support are available on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET.


Pricing for Time and Attendance Systems

The cost of a time and attendance system ranges from free to about $20 per person per month. Some cloud-based systems charge an additional monthly base fee; for example, QuickBooks Time charges $20 per month in addition to $8 per employee per month.

However, if you purchase a system that you host onsite, you may pay an upfront fee of $99 or more, but you won't have monthly fees. Instead, you'll pay a license fee for each computer and a setup fee to install and configure your timekeeping system. Setup fees range from $100 to $1,000 or even more, depending on the vendor.

These factors may affect your overall pricing for a timekeeping system:

  • The number of employees (users) you have
  • The number of administrators who use the system
  • The number of locations where you collect time
  • The range of features, such as scheduling in addition to timekeeping
  • Implementation and setup fees
  • Whether you want customized reports and interfaces
  • Whether you need single sign-on or other add-ons
  • Annual support fees (included in most online systems)
  • Hardware, such as a computer or tablet to serve as your time clock

Most web-based time and attendance system providers and apps charge per user – each person, employee, manager or administrator who uses the software.

Small and midsize businesses often find cloud-based solutions best for time tracking because they contain built-in rules to calculate state-mandated overtime. They also help businesses comply with labor laws and regulations affecting time off, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act. 

Some time and attendance system providers offer volume discounts, in which the per-employee costs go down with more employees. Other providers offer discounts for annual subscribers.

Another cost to consider is whether you wish to integrate the time and attendance system with a physical punch-style time clock. Time clocks range in price from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on features such as facial recognition, thermal sensors and fingerprint scanners.

We have a final recommendation regarding price: With any time and attendance software or service you choose, start with the base package and then add on as your business needs change.

FYIFYI: If you want to install your time clock app on a tablet, you'll need to consider the costs of any hardware you don't currently own.

Buying Guide

Features of Time and Attendance Systems

Time and attendance systems include features that help businesses keep track of when employees work. Most also monitor employee time off, and some include employee scheduling and shift scheduling to make workforce planning easier. Look for these timekeeping features:

  • Clock-in and clock-out. Time and attendance systems should offer employees multiple ways to clock in and out. Some include a built-in time clock, and others allow employees to input time via a web browser, mobile app, phone, text message or social media.

  • Time clocks. For those who prefer a traditional time clock, many timekeeping apps are compatible with swipe cards, PINs, barcodes and biometrics technology, such as fingerprint scanners, photo clock-in and facial scans. Others use a virtual time clock app.

  • Mobile access. Cloud-based systems offer either a mobile app or a mobile-friendly website that you can set up on a computer or tablet. This method gives employees who work outside the office an easy way to clock in and out, and it lets you manage other aspects of their time, such as meal breaks and drive time.

  • GPS tracking. Most mobile apps use geolocation features, such as geofencing, to record the exact locations of employees' time punches or to restrict the areas from which employees can clock in and out. Some systems, like QuickBooks Time, can monitor employees' whereabouts.

  • Dashboard. Most time-tracking applications give you a dashboard that shows whether your employees are in the office, on PTO, on break or clocked out for the day.

  • Job trackers. Some time trackers let employees log how long they work on specific client projects or job tasks. This is valuable to businesses that charge clients based on the time spent on a project or task, such as consulting businesses or law firms.

  • Time-off requests. The best time and attendance systems track employees' time off, time-off requests and time-off approvals. Some systems streamline the process with online PTO accruals and request forms that managers can view and approve.

  • Scheduling. Most time and attendance software providers have employee scheduling tools built in or available for an extra charge. With these tools, the software monitors whether employees clock in late or leave early. Some provide reminders.

  • Notifications and alerts. Some time clock apps send email or text alerts to managers when an employee arrives late, leaves early or is nearing overtime. Managers can quickly determine whether an employee who is nearing overtime should continue working or be sent home.

  • Reports. Most time and attendance software provides businesses with detailed reports about the hours employees are working, thus helping managers determine staffing levels and scheduling needs. Performance management reports, financial reporting, activity reporting, attendance reporting, time-off summaries and leave reports are examples of reports that can be printed or exported from time-tracking systems.

  • Software compatibility. Most time and attendance software applications have built-in payroll software integration so you can easily sync with your payroll software or export data in a payroll-friendly format, such as a CSV file, thus saving time and reducing errors.

  • Customer support. The level of customer support varies across time and attendance trackers. Most provide email, phone or chat support. For an extra cost, some set up your system for you and help you troubleshoot; others require a support contract.

Benefits of a Time and Attendance System

Ensures Compliance

A time and attendance system provides employees with a means to consistently record their time worked. These systems reduce errors, track paid breaks and unpaid lunch hours, and help you keep track of overtime so you comply with federal and state labor laws.

Research from time and attendance system provider Replicon revealed how important these solutions are. In the survey, 96% of employees said they have made mistakes when recording their time and attendance, and 86% said they have challenges in tracking their time.

Improves Accuracy

Automated timekeeping systems pay employees more accurately. There's no more guessing when someone started or left work, and rounding errors are minimized. That helps reduce time theft, which affects three-quarters of businesses, according to research from the American Payroll Association. 

The study found that the average hourly worker cheats their employer out of anywhere between 50 minutes and 4.5 hours of work time a week – through behaviors such as arriving late, sneaking out early and taking long breaks – which can translate to tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue each year. 

FYIFYI: Time fraud is a significant issue for businesses. The American Society of Employers estimates that 20 cents of every dollar earned by a company in the U.S. is lost to employee time theft.

Saves Time

Another benefit of using a digital time and attendance system is that it reduces the time employees, managers, HR and payroll team members spend manually tracking time.

It can take about six minutes to complete each worker's timecard, according to research from Sierra Workforce Solutions, which, for large organizations, could add up to a lot of time that could be better spent elsewhere. Using a time and attendance system eliminates that burden from managers and staff, freeing them to work on more important tasks. 

Reduces Disputes

Time and attendance software's functionality reduces errors that may occur as a result of handwritten or manually keyed-in timesheets. An automated time-tracking program prevents timecard disputes and reassures employees that they're being paid accurately. 

Simplifies Clocking in and Out

Time and attendance systems make it simple for employees to clock in and out. They can typically do so using a computer time clock or phone app. Most systems also offer a mobile app, which gives remote and field workers an easy way to record their time. 

Displays Valuable Data

Once your employees are logged in to the system, they can clock in and out, view their total hours worked each week, review their schedules, see how much time off they've accrued and request time off. 

Administrators and managers have additional controls to track employees' attendance and hours, review labor data reports and approve or deny time-off requests. The system allows the data to be exported as a report or CSV file should you want to share it with other systems or users.

Time and Attendance FAQs

How do you decide what you need in a time and attendance software solution?

Consider the work employees do and how best to track that kind of work. For example, a plumbing business tracks work by job and also needs to track driving time. A café tracks workers in shifts. A manufacturing firm may track work on a line, where all workers start and stop at once. And in an office, work schedules rarely change, so your time tracking may focus more on time-off tracking.

Once you determine the kind of data you need to capture, choose a time and attendance system that's easy for you to set up and for employees to use. A mobile app is best for field workers, whereas retail workers in your shop may find a kiosk easier. 

Also, consider the kinds of output you need for your payroll system and reporting. For example, if you bill clients for workers' time, you need a system that lets you assign work hours to clients, projects or tasks. It's best to test out the timekeeping software to ensure it does what you need it to do. Most platforms offer free trials ranging from seven to 30 days.

What is biometric time and attendance software?

A biometric time and attendance system identifies employees using characteristics that are unique to them, such as their fingerprints or retinas. The software gathers that information to ensure the right person is using the time clock. The biometric tools that providers such as Clockify offer are similar to those at banks that may require your fingerprint, handprint or thumbprint as proof of identification.

How does a time and attendance system improve efficiency in the workplace?

A time and attendance system saves time for employees, managers and HR staff. Employees no longer have to write down each time they punch in, take a break or leave for the day. Instead, they clock in and out with the push of a button, so they don't have to add up all the hours. Managers or HR staff no longer have to verify work-hour totals and put the total hours into a spreadsheet or payroll system; all of that can be automated with time and attendance systems.

What is the best employee time clock? 

The best time clock depends on your company's specific needs. Most time and attendance system providers list the time clocks that integrate best with their software. After choosing a system, you can examine the clocks those providers offer. 

The best time clocks have the features and tools your business needs. Some time clocks only clock employees in and out, while others let you check schedules, review timecards, see time-off accruals, post employee messages and let workers request time off. 

Ensure that the time clock you choose offers the method you want employees to use to clock in and out, such as swipe cards or PINs. Additionally, if you want especially secure options, such as biometric clock-ins, to prevent buddy punching, the time clock should allow employees to clock in and out using their fingerprint or facial scan. 

TipTip: When choosing to buy or lease a time clock, also consider the service and warranty options. Make sure you will be covered if the time clock malfunctions.

How much does a time and attendance system cost? 

Traditional time clocks cost hundreds of dollars in addition to the setup fees and annual service contracts. Newer cloud-based time and attendance software is priced per user and, based on our research, ranges from $2 to $20 per employee per month. Some vendors offer basic, free timekeeping systems in hopes that you'll upgrade as your business grows.

What is mobile time tracking? 

Mobile time tracking is part of a time and attendance system that works through a mobile app or a mobile-optimized website to track and manage the time of offsite workers, such as service providers or remote office employees. This option is especially valuable in today's environment in which many employees are working from home.

How does GPS work in a time and attendance system?

With geolocation, the system records the exact locations of employees each time they clock in or out. Employers can then see those locations and make sure the employees are where they are supposed to be. 

Geofencing lets employers set location boundaries defining where employees can clock in and out. For example, employers can set boundaries around a work site to ensure their workers are showing up each day or simply remind them to clock in when they arrive at the job site. Without this option, an employee, in theory, could clock in and out from home and never show up at the job. 

Some systems have added mobile tracking features that record the locations of offsite employees throughout the day. The system pings the mobile device every few minutes so employers can view a map of where their field employees worked throughout the day.

What to Expect in 2022

As businesses settle into a post-pandemic era, long-term policies and solutions must be enacted to accommodate the workforce changes that are here to stay, such as remote and hybrid work. Expect time and attendance technology to meet these needs by offering enhanced self-service features that allow employees to manage their own work schedules and time off, regardless of where they are located. Putting employee time management functionality in the hands of employees has become increasingly important as younger generations demand more flexibility and autonomy over how and when they work.

Cloud-based technology is becoming the standard in the industry, furthering employees' ability to clock in and out when they are working away from the office. Employers that need to track employee locations for compliance or safety reasons will be happy to know that geofencing and geolocation capabilities are also becoming standard throughout the industry.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is another growing trend that will impact this industry over the next year and beyond. As AI becomes an integral part of time and attendance systems, the data it aggregates can be used to make informed decisions on staffing, scheduling and other labor needs. A relatively new functionality, AI chatbots can also play a key role in streamlining employee assistance.

The gig economy is another area that will impact time and attendance solutions in 2022. It is predicted that gig workers will exceed the number of non-gig workers by 2027. The laws and regulations that govern this set of workers will likely evolve as the industry grows. Time and attendance systems will need to evolve in tandem to continue to accurately track the hours and pay of these freelancers.

Jeff Hale Contributing Writer
Jeff Hale is a writer and editor based in San Diego with a background in business development and marketing. He has identified new market opportunities for Fortune 500 companies and developed communications strategies and digital branding for tech startups and small businesses. Jeff covers emerging technologies and business solutions with a focus on efficiency and growth. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Irvine, and an MBA from Chapman University.
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