We’ve all grown up with some version of time and attendance solutions. Whether it was roll call in school or biometric attendance at workplaces, we’re used to being accountable for time spent. 

But with the pandemic taking over our lives, companies have been forced to look at employee attendance through a different lens. Rudimentary time and attendance solutions have been replaced by online time and attendance. But what does that entail?

In this blog, we’ll take you through why employee attendance data is important and what are the new online time and attendance solutions on the block.  

What is Employee Attendance?

Employee attendance is the total number of days the employee turns up for work. Other factors like a punch in time, punch out time, breaks taken during work and time off can also be tracked as a part of employee attendance. 

To ensure clarity for employees, companies must create a comprehensive attendance policy along with an inclusive leave policy

Why is Attendance Important at Work? 

Work attendance isn’t restricted to just showing up to work regularly. It also includes punching in on time, limiting breaks, and finishing all tasks assigned. 

When an employee is perpetually absent, other employees are forced to pick up their slack. This absenteeism can severely impact both overall productivity and morale. In small businesses, it can even affect the finances of the firm. 

Obviously, there are situations when time off is required and that’s what any work attendance policy should account for. For any leave types excluding sick leaves, employees should try to give at least a few days notice to ensure that work isn’t hampered in their absence. 

What is an Employee Attendance System? 

An employee attendance system is a solution by which companies track employee attendance and time off. This time and attendance management system can be as rudimentary as a simple Excel spreadsheet or as sophisticated as a standalone application. Depending on their requirements and resources available, companies should choose the option most suitable for their employees. 

But irrespective of size, every company requires some method for online time and attendance tracking. 

How can Online Time and Attendance Help Businesses? 

Although the use of time and attendance solutions is common across all businesses, many may not know the range of benefits of using one. 

Benefit #1 of Online Time and Attendance: Streamlining Attendance Data Collection

What happens in a small business with no time and attendance tracking system? A single person manages an Excel spreadsheet of all employee attendance. Irrespective of shared spreadsheets accurate data entry is almost impossible. There are chances of time theft and even inaccurate attendance records. 

Humans are prone to error, even if we provide them with supporting computational devices. Automated time and attendance solutions ensure accurate time records and minimize the inevitable and costly errors with manual data entry. This accurate data thereby helps to provide accurate performance and payroll data.

By adopting a self-service route for online time and attendance, companies can improve the accuracy of their attendance data. Employees can not only track their own attendance data, they can also see how much time off they have left. 

An online time and attendance system ensures accuracy and minimizes expensive errors in manual data entry. 

Benefit #2 of Online Time and Attendance: Identification of Employee Attendance Issues 

One of the main reasons for employers to track attendance data is to preempt any issues that may arise in the future. These may include: 

  • Time tracking to ensure that employees are clocking in and clocking out at the right time
  • Employee monitoring to ensure that work is being completed
  • Tracking breaks taken to prevent time theft
  • Vacation tracking to make sure that time off is being taken periodically 
  • Monitoring planned and unplanned absences to make sure that work isn’t hampered
  • Tracking leaves taken and quotas for efficient workforce management 
  • Tracking employee attendance for remote workers
  • Identifying and tracking FMLA leave

On the surface, time and attendance tracking may seem rather insignificant but it is the basis of workforce planning in any organization. 

Benefit #3 of Online Time and Attendance: Ensuring Employees are Paid All Their Dues on Time 

Two of the prime benefits of online time and attendance tracking lies in payrolling and accrued hours. Accurate time tracking makes it possible for: 

  • Non-exempt employees to be paid for the exact time that they worked. Employers can accurately track overtime and ensure that hours are allocated correctly. If there is too much overtime, they can think of hiring more employees too. 
  • Exempt employees to not be worked to the bone. While non-exempt employees have the benefit of being paid for overtime, the same can’t be said for exempt employees. But that shouldn’t mean that they are overburdened with work. By tracking overtime patterns employers can ensure that workloads are redistributed correctly and even look into hiring additional people to manage it equitably. 
  • Employees to accrue time off. Types of leaves like FMLA require employees to put in a certain number of hours in a year to be eligible for them. Additionally, companies may also opt for earned leave policies where leaves are accrued basis hours. In that case, irrespective of exemption status and depending on the company policy, time tracking can help with compliance. 

Thus, keeping accurate records of employee attendance is integral irrespective of employee categorization. 

Benefit #4 of Online Time and Attendance: Proactive Employee Attendance Tracking to Reduce Absenteeism 

The prime benefit of employee attendance tracking is ensuring that absenteeism is minimized. Excessive absences can impact the bottom line of the organization and also point to a much larger problem. The possibility of employee disengagement and demotivation. 

In small organizations, it is easy to pinpoint who is taking an unusual number of unscheduled leaves. But in larger organizations, online time and attendance can record absence data so that line managers and HR are aware of the impending issue. Absence trackers can highlight unusual absenteeism to ensure complete visibility for decision-makers. Obviously, sick leaves must be accommodated for as long as possible and employees should be checked on if they’re falling ill often. 

Benefit #5 of Online Time and Attendance: The Self Service Model of Time Data   

All employees take vacations. Some may be longer than others. But irrespective of length most of them are planned well in advance. We would be doing a great disservice to employees by not providing them access to specific buckets of time data. Some situations where employees can benefit from time data are: 

Employees Coordinating Scheduled Vacations 

In this particular case, giving employees access to vacation data for others in the organization in a self-service model allows them to schedule their vacations accordingly. 

When employees see that too many of their peers are taking time off at the same time they can either shift their vacations or try to schedule them well in advance to ensure approval.

Dynamic Shift Scheduling

For businesses that run in shifts, having the shift roster available to the entire team allows employees to make dynamic changes in the schedules. This means that instead of an employee conveying to the manager they will not be turning up for a shift, the employee can directly switch shifts with another. 

Personal Productivity

HR can often overlook the power of personal goals for employees. Employees always want to do better.  By providing overtime, productivity, and working hours data to employees they will be incentivized to improve them. Empowering them to be accountable for their time helps motivate them.  

This self-service model saves time and increases the efficiency of both employees and managers. 

Benefit #6 of Online Time and Attendance: Monitor Toxic Presenteeism

Presenteeism refers to productivity loss resulting from real health problems. The underlying assumption is that employees don’t take their jobs and pay lightly, most need to work and try to power through their pain. 

According to two studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the on-the-job productivity loss resulting from depression and pain was 3x the absence-related productivity loss from these conditions. This means that less time is lost from employees taking sick leaves than them showing up to work and not performing. 

Presenteeism can also happen when workers are pressured to come to work despite being sick. They may not be able to take time off because of financial reasons. They may also believe that their employers may penalize them for taking time off. 

Monitoring employee attendance data can help identify teams and individuals who aren’t taking enough time off. If HR focuses on educating employees about the dangers of toxic presenteeism, assures them of company support, and offers scheduled vacations it can certainly help. 

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is the importance of health. Taking time off when you’re feeling under the weather should be simple and guilt-free. 

Benefit #7 of Online Time and Attendance: Increased Flexibility in an Increasingly Remote World

Before the pandemic, only 17 percent of U.S. employees worked from home, a share that has increased to 44 percent during the pandemic. The COVID-19 outbreak has only accelerated the remote working trend. With quarantines and lockdowns making commuting to work almost impossible, it was only a matter of time for telecommuting to explode. 

But with this rapid change of working situations, employers are left wondering whether productivity is taking a hit. This is where online time and attendance can help put their fears to rest. Time and attendance solutions allow employers to have complete visibility of their employees and what they’re working on. The employee monitoring techniques can range from screen monitoring to employee attendance punches. 

Change in remote work trends due to COVID-19 in the United States in 2020

What are the Best Time and Attendance Systems for Businesses?

For enterprise-level companies, attendance management is a module within their HR software. But the same is not true for small and medium businesses who may just be tracking attendance with an easily fallible spreadsheet. 

But this herculean task of manual data entry isn’t the only way. There can be a number of absence tracker methods for small businesses

The one that we believe is one of the best time and attendance systems is an integrated attendance management system. A system that provides complete visibility of all attendance data, integrates with payroll software, manages leaves, and coordinates vacations. A software like AttendanceBot allows managers to approve all leave, overtime, and vacation requests in just a single click right inside Slack or MS Teams.

Feel free to take AttendanceBot for a spin in your Slack workspace or schedule a demo with us