People love to complain. Maybe that’s why employees grumble so often about time and attendance tracking.
But for employees — good, hardworking employees, at least — time and attendance tracking is a good thing. I think honest employees should be glad their time is being recorded!
Come On, Get Happy
As it happens, I’m an employee, too. And since I work for a time and attendance company, you can bet I have to record my work time — even if, as a salaried exempt employee, my pay isn’t based on how many hours I work.
Occupational hazard, you might say. 🙂
You may think I’d be at least mildly irritated by having to clock in every morning and clock out every evening and at my lunch break… especially since it doesn’t make any difference at all in my paycheck. You’d be mistaken.
If you’re an employee, I’d like to suggest some reasons why you shouldn’t be annoyed if your employer tracks your time, either. And if you’re an employer who doesn’t yet formally track employee time, I hope to get you thinking about the reasons you should start.
How Do I Love Thee, Time and Attendance?
Here are three reasons I think employees should be happy when their employers install time and attendance tracking. (At least, they’re the main reasons I’m happy my employer records my work hours…)
- First, time tracking ensures I get credit for the time I put in at work.
Chances are, you’re an hourly or nonexempt salaried worker who should be paid for any overtime you work. (By some estimates, over 3/4 of all employees in the USA are overtime-eligible.) Without records of your work time, how will you (and your employer) know for sure when you’re due overtime pay?
Even if, like me, you aren’t eligible for overtime, it still can be a good thing to have an accurate record of the hours you put in. You could even use unpaid overtime as a bargaining chip when negotiating a raise, a bonus or a bit of comp time. (Don’t tell my boss I mentioned that. :))
From an employer’s standpoint, having accurate time records to back up their payroll calculations helps protect the company against wage and hour claims. Time records for salaried exempt employees can prove invaluable if a wage and hour audit shows those employees should have been classified as overtime-eligible.
- Second, recording work time keeps me and my co-workers honest.
Most people don’t set out with the intention of cheating anybody out of anything. But sometimes, we end up taking advantage of a situation without meaning to.
For instance, when nobody’s time is being recorded, it’s easy to slip into the habit of taking an extra five or ten minutes at lunch or break time. Most people figure a minute or two here or there won’t make any difference.
Problem is, those minutes add up. If somebody takes just an extra five minutes a day for a long lunch or a little extra break time, that comes to 25 minutes a week — which translates to more than 20 hours over the course of a year! And, of course, we also know what happens when somebody gets away with taking an extra five minutes day after day. That five minutes eventually stretches out to 10 or 15 minutes, or even more. If (when) others notice, they may well follow suit.
Next thing you know, half the department is taking a 75-minute lunch “hour” every day.
But when time is being recorded, the so-called “time theft” almost always declines. It’s human nature — people tend to “behave” when they know somebody else is watching.
- Third, accurate time records can help the company retain my favorite co-workers.
Let’s say a department is swamped with work. All the department members are putting in crazy hours trying to keep up. It’s been going on for awhile, and some employees are starting to peruse the online job boards in search of a less stressful position. Unfortunately, as usually happens, the ones who are most likely to move on are the high achievers. You know, the ones nobody wants to see go.
The problem with handwritten time sheets is that sometimes employees — particularly those who don’t get paid overtime — tend to understate their work hours. It’s easier to simply fill in eight hours a day rather than to record actual work time. (I know I’ve been guilty of that myself when I worked at companies that used manual time sheets to record work hours.)
An automated time & attendance system is as easy for employees to use as handwritten time slips — probably easier, in fact — and more accurate at recording actual hours spent at work. Employers nearly always find they save both time and money on payroll preparation because automated systems are so much more efficient.
Plus, with the variety the reports easily available to management from an automated system, it’s a simple matter to review and analyze how much time was actually worked by individuals, work groups and departments.
If the boss consistently sees certain employees or work groups putting in excessively long hours, she can investigate. The issue could be any number of things, with any number of potential solutions — but without accurate time records, management might not even know a problem exists.
The Bottom Line
OK, so expecting people to dance a jig or break into song every time they clock in or out may be a bit unrealistic. But, as you can see, I think there are some compelling reasons why you should be pleased if your employer uses a good time and attendance solution to track your work time. (And if they don’t, show them this article, then point them to the Acroprint online store to buy one!)