Tracking work hours on a daily basis is largely the responsibility of your employees. For many jobs, the process is simple: clock in at the start of the workday, and clock out at the end of the workday.
For other jobs, though, tracking work hours can be difficult because employees might work on different projects for different clients throughout the day. Each of those projects needs to be reported with a work hour tracker and the hours worked added to the client’s total.
As a manager, then, your job is to:
- Establish the rules and regulations that apply to work hours.
- Provide your employees with a work hour tracker.
- Make sure everyone is using the tracker correctly.
- Compile the work hours to calculate your employees’ paychecks.
As simple as that may sound, it leaves room for variation. Particularly when it comes to the work hour tracker you choose to manage all this information. Work hour trackers range in format and simplicity from a paper sign-in/sign-out sheet to a large software suite of which tracking time is just a small part.
Which method is right for your business and your employees? The experts at Sling are here to provide all the information you need to make an informed decision. Along the way, we’ll discuss:
- Sign-in/sign-out sheets.
- Manual time clocks.
- Software time clocks.
We’ll also give you a list of some of the more common work hour tracker apps, and then show you how to make tracking work hours easier with effective scheduling software. Before we get to that, though, let’s start with the simplest of all tracking methods: the sign-in sheet.
1) Sign-In/Sign-Out Sheets
The sign-in/sign-out sheet has been around for a long time. Your grandfather’s grandfather probably used a sign-in/sign-out sheet at one point in his career. The main benefit of this method is its simplicity.
At its most basic, the sign-in/sign-out sheet is composed of four columns. Employees simply sign their name in one column and enter the time they arrive at work in another. When their shift is over, employees sign their name in a third column and enter the time they left work in a fourth.
The problem with sign-in/sign-out sheets is that mistakes can easily be made. Employees can forget to sign their name or forget to enter the time the arrived or left. Plus, the process of signing in can take quite a bit of time (relatively speaking, of course). If you have a large number of employees trying to sign in at the same time, it can cause problems.
We don’t recommend the sign-in/sign-out sheet for more than 10 employees, but it could still be useful for some businesses.
2) Manual Time Clocks
Manual time clocks replaced the sign-in/sign-out sheet as a more efficient—and less error-filled—work hour tracker. Manual time clocks were so effective that they’re still around in some industries, even after more than 100 years. Each employee receives a card that they insert into the clock, and then he or she pushes the button on top to print the time.
Manual time clocks are more difficult to forge than sign-in/sign-out sheets. The only mistakes that can be made are forgetting to punch in/punch out, or printing the time on the wrong line.
Manual time clocks do such an effective job tracking work hours that many automated, software-based systems still make use of them in one form or another. This leads us to our next topic: software time clocks.
3) Software Time Clocks
With the advent of computers, software time clocks grew in popularity. Employees used a manual time clock linked to a computer, or a computer terminal itself, to record their time in and out. Software time clocks reduced the number of errors because everything was automated. The only mistake that could be made was forgetting to sign in and out.
Software time clocks are still one of the best ways to track employee work hours in many industries. These work hour tracking solutions can even incorporate fingerprint or retinal scans to ensure that the correct employee is starting or leaving work.
For a typical nine-to-five business where the employee clocks in, does her job, and then clocks out, software time clocks are an ideal work hours tracker.
But what happens if an employee needs to track work hours for multiple projects while she’s in (or out) of the office? That leads us to our next type of work hour tracker.
4) Mobile Work Hour Tracker Apps
Many professions require that employees track billable time for various projects. A lawyer, for example, may spend two hours on one case, 45 minutes on another, and five hours on a third during her nine-to-five workday. How is she to document that time? With a mobile work hour tracker app.
Mobile work hour tracker apps can be used both in and out of the office to record time for one (or multiple) projects. Some of these apps are even replacing the software time clock as the go-to choice for a simple clock-in, work, clock-out process.
These apps are relatively simple to operate, only require a smartphone or mobile device, and can be linked to other software to provide invoicing and other services.
Sling is at the top of this list because of its ability to streamline a large portion of your organization, tracking, and reporting work. With Sling, you can manage every aspect of your employees’ work hours — time off, availability, shift-trade requests — without collecting, sorting, or collating a huge stack of paper.
Add to that the onboard A.I. that will help you manage overtime and avoid exceeding your labor budget, and you’ve got a powerful ally in keeping expenses under control. Sling will even help you reduce absenteeism and late arrivals and keep track of overlapping shifts and double-booking.
Sling also offers a unique feature that turns any phone, tablet, or computer into a time clock. It allows your employees to clock in and out of their shifts without clogging up a central terminal.
To make that process even more secure, you can set up geofences around your business so that if an employee isn’t inside that boundary, they can’t clock in. Sling even notifies you when an employee is running late or forgets to clock in. These exclusive features go a long way toward reducing time-tracking and attendance errors that can cause problems in the future.
And that’s just the beginning of what Sling has to offer to help you better manage your employees.
Timewerks allows users to track multiple projects and clients at any given time. You can track time automatically with the touch of a button or add time manually later on. You can then export your data to a variety of formats (i.e., Excel) or produce a work hour tracker report from the app itself.
Timewerks is a very basic work hours tracker, so don’t expect it to revolutionize the way you manage your team. It can be very effective for simple time tracking, but if you need more power and flexibility from your time-tracking app, you’re better off with a suite of tools like Sling’s.
iPunchclock can be used by your employees to clock in/clock out and track time spent on different tasks. iPunchclock can also report the longitude and latitude (and altitude) where tasks are performed.
You can verify that your employees did indeed start and end work at your restaurant on time because the app shows where they were while it was running. That’s a powerful solution for your work hour tracker dilemma.
While iPunchclock does offer a few more tools than Timewerks, it is still not as feature-packed as the Sling app. iPunchclock is a good place to start for simple time tracking, but for complete control of your employees’ work hours, you’ll need a suite of tools like Sling offers to fill the gap.
TimeClock is a simple and intuitive solution that allows users to track work hours within minutes of downloading and installing the app. With TimeClock, you don’t have to worry about your employees’ data because everything is stored in the cloud for any time, any place access.
Additionally, there’s no need to back up your device every five minutes, because TimeClock automatically sends your data to the cloud every few seconds. Add to that TimeClock’s instant syncing with other devices and you’ve got a handy little work hour tracker that all your employees can use.
But for true universal access anywhere, anytime, you’ll need an app like Sling that takes full advantage of new technology, such as artificial intelligence and the cloud.
These more advanced suites of tools go beyond just simple time tracking to include communication, reporting, and labor-cost control to name a few.
5) ClockedIn 2
ClockedIn 2 is another solid entry into the mobile work hour tracker lineup. This app provides powerful tools, such as calendar integration, address book integration, and a variety of reports for end-of-the-week and end-of-the-month calculations. ClockedIn 2 even allows timed tasks to span multiple days for hyper-accurate recording.
With the added benefit of integration, ClockedIn2 is useful for reporting and a variety of other tasks. But for true integration and reporting, you’re better off choosing an all-in-one app like Sling.
While ClockedIn2 might offer a handful of reports, larger suites contain all the pre-formatted documents you’ll need for both short-term and long-term time tracking and labor cost analysis.
With Sling, you can even create your own reports so all the information relevant to your business is where you need it when you need it.
TimeCatcher is a unique mobile work hour tracker that allows your employees to not only clock in and clock out but to also work on tasks using the Pomodoro technique (25 minutes of work followed by a short break) and other time management strategies.
TimeCatcher, like many of the other entries on this list, does a good job of tracking work hours but falls short when it comes to giving you insight into how your team works. Only an app with deep reporting, integration across all features, and built-in artificial intelligence (like Sling offers) can do that.
Make Tracking Work Hours Easier With Effective Scheduling Software
Sling is designed specifically for scheduling employees with four unique features:
The Sling Shifts feature contains all the intuitive tools you need to get the job done quickly and correctly the first time.
Sling even provides guidance, suggestions, up-to-date availability, and time-off requests to help you avoid conflicts. And Sling notifies you of overlapping shifts and double-bookings.
The Sling Messages and Newsfeed features make communication between team members a breeze. You no longer have to rely on phone calls, emails, or some other third-party app to stay in touch.
You can communicate directly with your employees (and your employees can communicate with you) on Sling through push notifications and texts. And you can even share files, photos, videos, and links so everyone is up to date with what’s going on in your business.
The Sling Tasks feature allows you to assign jobs to individuals or groups and follow their progress. Tasks lets you create to-do lists and share them by name, group, location, or position. You can even set due dates and send reminders as deadlines approach. This is an ideal way to ensure that your employees get things done without having to supervise all the time.
Sling even offers a time clock for a completely integrated experience that effectively reduces the time it takes you to create and manage even the most complicated schedules. Sling is your one-stop work hour tracker and scheduler that can keep everyone on task while simultaneously building a better company culture. What more could you ask for in a free app?
For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit GetSling.com today.