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The best features to look for when picking an employee time clock 

April 25th, 2023 | 3 min. read

By Mike Shaeffer

Whether it’s choosing a new car or a new smartphone, figuring out which features and benefits are your must-haves is key to the buying process -- that's especially true when figuring out which employee time clock to use. That said, you probably don't have time to sift through online reviews and Consumer Reports there are all sorts of tools to help guide your decision. That's where we come in. We've helped countless companies set up their employee time clocks, and in that time we've seen which ones work well and which ones do not.

Today’s employee time clocks are tricked out with all kinds of features, some that make sense for your business and some you may never use.  Gone are the days when your only option was a clunky metal box attached to the wall where your biggest worries were lining up your time card just right and hoping it didn’t run out of ink. In fact, some of this might seem old fashioned to you, but figuring out your employee time clock situation is vital to understanding your overhead.

Why your company needs a time clock

Two things haven’t changed. First, you need a time clock. Multiple studies have shown that businesses who process payroll manually have error rates of.5 to 2-percent. Let’s say that your company has 200 employees who are paid an average of $20/hour and a.5-percent payroll error per time card. That’s potentially $42,000 lost in payroll mistakes each year!  

That’s money you could be reinvesting in your business. Or use to buy a well-appointed Jaguar, or a tiny house, if you’re into them.  

You need more than a time clock though. You need an accurate one, which today means an automated one. The American Payroll Association shows an error rate of between 1-8% of total payroll in companies that use traditional timecards, and roughly 40% of small businesses incur an average of $845 a year in IRS penalties as a result of mismanaged payroll processes

(To make this more applicable for you and your business, check out this great little calculator to estimate your potential savings with an automated time and attendance system by just entering five numbers.) Thankfully, there are some fantastic timekeeping options that can help reduce errors, prevent time theft and help you run your payroll seamlessly.  

Time clock features you must consider

Here are some things to consider when weighing your time-clock options: 

  1. Ease-of-Use. You want your time clock to be foolproof for your team members logging their time, as well as for the HR manager who is tracking hours, time-off, and overtime on the backend. Make sure to ask about install and maintenance (some are as simple as “plug and play.") 
  1. Badge or biometric? Many businesses choose to have their employees scan their ID badges or enter a username and password to clock-in for the day. This method can put the employer at risk for “buddy punching,” where one co-worker punches in for another who isn’t even onsite. (A 2017 survey of 1,000 employees revealed that 16% admitted to buddy punching.) Biometrics use an employee fingerprint, helping prevent time theft. 
  1. Back-up Plan. Lost power can mean lost time. Make sure the unit has plenty of back-up battery capability in case there is ever a power failure at your business or in the surrounding area. 
  1. Stationary or Mobile? We all are familiar with the wall-mounted time clock, which still might be a great option for your business, but if your employees are working remotely or on-the-go a mobile app may be needed. These apps include GPS data so you know that your employee isn’t punching in from a matinee. 
  1. Tough Enough. Will your clock be near harsh chemicals or water? Will it be exposed to extreme weather (consider a construction site or factory, for example)? There are clocks and clock enclosures made with durability in mind. 
  1. Bells and whistles. If you’re in hospitality, you may want to be able to track tips and gratuities. Some of your employees may need to indicate a transfer between departments. Make sure you do a side-by-side comparison to determine your “must haves” and “nice to haves” so your system truly meets the needs of your business. 

Not sure which time clock is right for you? Ask!

This is by no means an exhaustive list of considerations when choosing the right timekeeping system for your business. At Whirks, we partner with iSolved and they offer several great options to serve your business’s needs. If you’re still wondering what system might be best for your business, let’s find a time to chat. We are here to help you accurately and easily track one of your business’s most critical resources: your time.