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Manual Timekeeping vs. Time Clock Systems (+ Free Timesheet Template)

6 min read
timekeeping at work

Time tracking is essential to any business, ensuring accurate payroll, compliance with employment laws, and overall productivity.

Traditionally, manual timekeeping methods such as paper timesheets have been the go-to option for many organisations. However, with technological advancements, time clock systems have emerged as efficient alternatives to streamline the time management process.

In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of both approaches, helping you decide which method best suits your company’s needs and contributes to the smooth operation of your workforce.


Importance of Timekeeping

Timekeeping is now an essential part of the working process for organisations in many different sectors as it shows dedication and dependability while ensuring compliance with employment law. You can try our free online work hours calculator here.

Keeping a record of working hours has many other benefits, including:

  • Payroll Accuracy: It ensures that employees are paid correctly for their work hours. It helps to accurately manage employee time and calculate wages, overtime, and other compensation, minimising errors and potential disputes. This promotes fair and transparent payment practices, enhancing employee satisfaction and trust.
  • Compliance with Employment Laws: Keeping a record of hours worked ensures compliance with labour laws and regulations regarding employee work hours, breaks, and overtime. Maintaining accurate records of time and employee hours worked helps businesses demonstrate compliance and avoid legal issues or penalties related to labour standards.
  • Resource Allocation and Planning: Working time data provides valuable insights into how employees utilise their time. It helps managers and small business owners analyse productivity levels, identify bottlenecks, see employee activity trends and allocate resources effectively. With accurate records, businesses can make informed decisions about staffing, work schedules, and project timelines.
  • Project Tracking and Billing: This is vital for businesses that bill clients based on time spent on projects or services. Accurate records help track billable hours, monitor project progress, and generate invoices. This system ensures that clients are billed correctly and helps businesses maintain profitability.
  • Performance Evaluation and Accountability: Working hours data can contribute to performance evaluations and accountability within the organisation. It allows managers to assess employee time and attendance system, productivity, attendance, and adherence to schedules. This information can be used for constructive feedback, identifying training needs, employee breaks, and recognising high-performing employees.
  • Efficiency and Productivity Monitoring: It enables businesses to track and analyse productivity levels, identify inefficiencies, and implement strategies for improvement. It helps identify areas where time is wasted, allowing for process optimisation and better resource management.
  • Absence and Leave Management: It facilitates the tracking workforce management of employee absences, leaves, and time-off requests. It helps ensure that leave policies and entitlements are adhered to, preventing scheduling conflicts and ensuring adequate staffing.
  • Legal and Audit Compliance: Maintaining accurate records is crucial during audits or in the event of legal disputes. It provides evidence of work hours, breaks, and compliance with labour regulations, protecting businesses from potential liabilities and legal consequences.

Overall, recording hours worked is vital for many businesses to ensure proper payroll management, compliance with labour laws, more efficient record keeping, resource allocation, accurate billing, performance evaluation, and overall productivity monitoring access control.

Manual Timekeeping vs. Time Clock in Systems

Deciding between manual timekeeping and time clock-in systems for your company depends on several factors. Here are a few you should consider when making your decision:

  • Company Size and Complexity: The size and complexity of your company can influence your choice. Manual tracking may be suitable for smaller businesses with a limited number of employees, where tracking time manually using spreadsheets or paper-based systems can be manageable. On the other hand, time clock in systems are often more efficient for larger organisations with a higher volume of employees, as they offer automated tracking and reporting capabilities.
  • Accuracy and Compliance: Time clock in systems generally provide more accurate data compared to manual methods, as they eliminate the potential for human error and unauthorised alterations online manage employee time clock. They also help ensure compliance with labour laws and regulations, providing a reliable record of work hours for payroll and legal purposes.
  • Time and Resource Efficiency: Implementing a clock in system can save time and resources by automating the monitoring process. It reduces the administrative burden of manual calculations and data entry, allowing HR or payroll personnel to focus on other important tasks.
  • Integration and Scalability: If your company uses other HR or payroll systems, consider whether a physical time clock in system can integrate with your existing software system. Integration of physical time clock in and out with additional software can streamline data transfer, eliminate duplicate entries, and enhance your system and overall efficiency. Additionally, if your company is experiencing growth or has plans for expansion, a time clock system can scale more easily to accommodate a larger workforce.
  • Budget: Money is a significant consideration. Manual methods generally have lower upfront costs, as they may require only basic supplies like timesheets or punch cards. Time clock in systems typically involve an initial investment in hardware or software, along with ongoing maintenance and subscription fees. Assess your budget and determine the long-term cost-effectiveness of each option.
  • Employee Convenience and Engagement: Consider how each option affects your employees. Manual attendance systems may require employees to remember to record their time accurately, while time and clock in systems offer convenience and simplicity. Sometimes a clock in system also offers additional features, like mobile clock in apps, self-service portals, and integration with biometric or card-based systems, which can enhance employee engagement and satisfaction.

Disadvantages of Manual Attendance Clocking System

According to a study carried out by QuickBooks Time, 44 percent of business owners suffer with timesheet errors on a monthly or even daily basis. Your staff members could have to wait in a queue to enter or exit, and your HR staff will have to deal with issues related to time tickets. This can involve updating the scorecard, correcting input timing mistakes, and taking care of other problems that might come up when using manual timesheets.

  • Inaccuracy: Manual time tracking is highly susceptible to errors, such as miswritten hours, incorrect calculations, or unintentional mistakes. These inaccuracies can lead to payroll discrepancies and may result in employees being underpaid or overpaid.
  • Time-Consuming: Manual time tracking requires employees to spend time recording their work hours, which can be time-consuming and may take away from their actual job responsibilities.
  • Delayed Reporting: With manual or time card tracking, employees often submit their time cards or timesheets at the end of the pay or a clock-in system period. This delay can lead to challenges in timely payroll processing, causing payment delays and frustration among employees between the pay periods and clock in system periods.
  • Lack of Real-Time Visibility: Manual employee clock, time and employee attendance tracking does not offer real-time visibility into employee time, employee attendance, and work hours. Employers may have to wait until the end of the pay period to identify attendance issues or overtime violations.
  • Time Theft and Buddy Punching: Manual time and attendance tracking is more susceptible to time theft, where employees might engage in practices like “buddy punching”. Research has found that time theft might cost a business up to 7% of its profits. For example, if your business earns £100,000 per year, time theft might cost you £7,000 every year.
  • Difficulties in Record-Keeping: Managing a large number of timesheets or time cards can become cumbersome and may lead to misplaced or lost records.
  • Limited Reporting and Insights: Manual time tracking may lack advanced reporting features, making it challenging to analyse labour data, identify trends, or make data-driven decisions.
  • Integration with Payroll and HR Systems: Integrating manual time tracking with payroll and HR systems can be complex and error-prone, leading to additional administrative work and potential mistakes during data transfer.
  • Employee Resistance: Some employees might resist manual time tracking due to concerns about privacy, lack of trust, or perceived micromanagement.
  • Difficulty in Tracking Remote Workers: Manual time tracking becomes even more challenging when managing remote employees or mobile employees, as they may not have immediate access to traditional monitoring methods.

Benefits of Time Clock Systems

Implementing an automated clocking system offers several advantages and benefits for businesses. Here are some compelling reasons why every business should consider adopting an automated timekeeping system:

  • Accuracy and Elimination of Errors: Automated systems minimise human errors associated with manual time tracking. They ensure accurate recording of work hours, reducing the risk of overpayment, underpayment, or miscalculations.
  • Time Savings: They can streamline the process of tracking and managing employee clock and work hours. They eliminate the need for manual data entry, calculations, and verification of employees clock and working hours, saving significant time and money for both employees and HR/payroll personnel.
  • Real-Time Visibility: Automated systems provide real-time visibility into online employee clock, attendance and work hours. Employers can monitor, for example, online employee clock, attendance system, breaks, and overtime hours instantly working remotely, enabling timely intervention and better management of labour costs.
  • Improves Reliability: Facial recognition or Facial Clocking and biometric employee clocking systems can be used to ensure accuracy of data. Statistics and facts about general facial recognition technology shows that it has been used in some workplaces in 40% of countries.
  • Advanced Reporting and Analytics: Digital clocking systems often offer robust reporting and analytics capabilities. Businesses can generate detailed reports on labour costs, employee attendance system, employee working patterns, physical time used, and other relevant business metrics.
  • Integration with Payroll and HR Systems: They can seamlessly integrate with a payroll system and HR software system, simplifying the payroll process. Time data can be transferred automatically, reducing data entry errors and minimising the time required for payroll processing.
  • Remote Work and Mobile Accessibility: With the rise of remote work and mobile workforces, automated systems provide flexible options for employees to track their work hours from anywhere.
  • Increased Security: Digital systems often come with built-in security features, features such as user authentication and access controls, protecting time data from unauthorised access or manipulation.
  • Cost Savings: While initial investment costs may be associated with implementing a digital solution, the long-term benefits often outweigh the expenses.

Time Tracking with Factorial

Easily create working time policies and ensure compliance thanks to Factorial’s time tracking tool, accessible via desktop or mobile. Keep records you can trust for better insights and accurate overtime pay. Watch the video below to find out more!

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