track employee hours

How to Easily and Accurately Track Employee Hours

Want to learn how to easily and accurately track employee hours? You’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we discuss what it takes to organize and set up a time tracking system of your own and introduce you to tools you can use to make the process easier.

Topics we’ll cover:

How to track employee hours: Preparation

track employee hours

1) Research time tracking laws

The first step in learning how to track employee hours is researching the local, state, and federal laws that apply to your industry.

The advantage of starting here instead of anywhere else is that a lot of the work has already been done for you. All you need to do is set up your time tracking system so that it complies with any and all laws for your business and your location.

You’ll find most of the information you need on the United States Department of Labor website, including:

As you read over the information on the Department of Labor website, keep in mind that all businesses must comply with these regulations.

Build a way to track employee hours with these laws in mind, and then integrate any state and local laws that apply to your industry.

During this stage of the process, it’s also a good idea to consult with an attorney who is familiar with the labor laws in your area.

2) Choose a time format

hand held clock

The time format you choose to use to track employee hours may not seem like an important variable, but it can make things easier or harder down the road.

When you’re designing your system, you have two format choices:

  • Standard format (a.k.a. 12-hour format)
  • Military format (a.k.a. 24-hour format)

Standard format is the most common but the least useful for time tracking purposes because it starts over every twelve hours and relies on an indicator (i.e., a.m. and p.m.) to tell you what hours were worked.

Standard format also makes it more difficult to manually calculate the total hours worked if those hours occur in both the a.m. and the p.m. (which most shifts do).

For example, if Lily clocks in at 7:00 a.m. (standard format) and clocks out at 5:00 p.m., their total hours worked are not immediately obvious. You’re going to have to do some roundabout math to figure out how long they were in the office.

Military format makes this easier. It starts over every 24 hours and doesn’t need an indicator to tell you what hours were worked.

Here’s how it works:

  • Morning hours are displayed just like the standard format (e.g., 8:14, 10:37, 11:51, etc.)
  • Afternoon hours are displayed by adding hours to twelve. For example, 1:00 p.m. in standard format would be 13:00 in military format, 5:00 p.m. would be 17:00, and 10:00 p.m. would be 22:00.

Military format also makes it simpler to manually calculate total hours worked regardless of when they occur.

Using the same example from earlier, if Lily clocks in at 07:00 (military format) and clocks out at 17:00 calculating their total time at work is now much easier because all you have to do is subtract seven from 17 to get 10. Lily worked 10 hours that day.

3) Round time to whole numbers

time clock on computer

If you allow team members to record small fractions (e.g., eight hours and seven minutes) as they track employee hours, the entire process — and the payroll calculations that follow closely behind — is going to be extremely difficult.

To avoid this issue, the federal government allows businesses to round up or down to the nearest 10 or 15 minutes.

For example, if your business chooses to track employee hours in 10-minute increments, 08:01, 08:02, 08:03, and 08:04 (military format) would round down to 08:00 for tracking, payroll, and record-keeping purposes. 08:05, 08:06, 08:07, and 08:09 would round up to 08:10.

If, on the other hand, your business chooses to track employee hours in 15-minute increments, any time between 08:01 and 08:07.59 rounds down to 08:00, while any time between 08:08 and 08:14.59 rounds up to 08:15.

If rounding wasn’t allowed and your business had to accommodate all numbers between one and 60, the calculations for payroll and other business metrics would be extremely tedious and unnecessarily complicated.

Take advantage of the 10- and 15-minute rounding laws to make your job easier.

How to track employee hours: Setup

track employee hours with sling

4) Create a simple system

As you think about how to track employee hours, use this principle as a guide: Keep it simple!

On the employee side of things, an overly complicated time-tracking process will throw up unnecessary delays that they’ll have to navigate before they can get to work.

For example, if Lily has to navigate through five screens and enter four different pieces of information, it’s confusing and takes more time than is necessary to execute.

As you set up the system to track employee hours, try to keep the entire process under 15 seconds. If clocking in and out takes longer than that, it’s too complicated and needs to be simplified.

5) Automate the process

Automate the process of tracking employee hours

New automation technology has made it much easier to accurately track employee hours.

Sling, for example, has built-in features that allow you to set the system to automatically apply certain variables to every clock-in/clock-out that occurs.

For example, you can:

  • Set wages by employee and/or position
  • Enforce budget restrictions
  • Control overtime
  • Forecast how much each shift will cost
  • Optimize labor costs in real time

With the right software in place, your business will be able to track employee hours automatically and keep the process as simple as possible for everyone involved.

For more information on the best way to automate your team’s time tracking process, check out these articles from the Sling blog:

6) Write instructions

After you’ve created a simple system to track employee hours with plenty of automation, it’s essential that you write instructions and make them available to your team.

Post detailed “how-to” instructions (i.e., how to use the software) at the clock-in/clock-out site so team members can access it easily if they forget.

Then, publish those “how-to” instructions — and everything about the time tracking and payroll process — in your employee handbook so your employees can access it if they have a question.

The best way to track employee hours

The best way to track employee hours

Versatility is essential when you set up the process to track employee hours.

So many other parts of your business depend on those numbers, it would be counterproductive to create a system that didn’t integrate well with those systems.

Instead, choose an all-in-one solution to track employee hours that also offers advanced features, such as scheduling, task management, attendance reporting, payroll capabilities, communication features, and much more.

What is that solution? The Sling app.

We built our app with the express purpose of simplifying and streamlining every aspect of your scheduling, time tracking, and attendance reporting activities.

Sling also lets your employees clock in and out right from their phones and even notifies you when an employee is running late or forgets to clock in.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit today.

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This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal, tax, HR, or any other professional advice. Please contact an attorney or other professional for specific advice.

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