Time & Attendance System Basics: Is Your Time & Attendance System Stuck in the Stone Age?

Do you remember the opening montage for The Flintstones? Fred, the protagonist, is happily moving rocks from the back of his trusty work Stegosaurus. Meanwhile, his manager stands behind him with an eye on the clock. When the end of the work day rolls around, the manager yanks on his Pterodactyl alarm, and away Fred goes…back to his Stone Age family.

Basic time & attendance systems have been around for a long time.

While we can’t say for sure just how accurate the Flintstones depiction of Stone Age time tracking is, we do know some of the world’s earliest known references to time-related wages date back to ancient Babylonia.

Jumping ahead a few thousand years, Willard Le Grand Bundy invented an early version of the punch clock in 1888. When he did, he probably had no idea what today’s time & attendance systems would look like.

Today, the “punch clock” doesn’t take up the corner between the break room and the utility closet, but lives on cell phones, mobile tablets, computers, and even sci-fi scanning devices that can analyze fingerprints and scan retinas. And these time and attendance solutions allow for much more than just clock-in/clock-out punching. You can use them to create scheduling, swap shifts, and sync with other business systems.

Think about the changes that have happened in the last 20 years or so. Up through the early 1990s, many companies were still using paper as their primary means of tracking time. Paper timesheets were portable and easy to use, whether employees filled in their information on templates, or simply scratched notes down for later.

They also presented obvious risks:

  • They were easy to lose.
  • Handwriting could be hard to read.
  • They were subject to inadvertent human error.
  • They made it easy for employees to fudge the numbers.

These days, very few companies use paper. And most of today’s automated systems promise robust features and capabilities, along with new levels of ease and flexibility across departments and employee groups.

Not all automated time & attendance systems are the same.

Even the slightest level of manual input in an otherwise automated system can expose a business to issues, whether wage & hour compliance risks, time theft, or an incomplete understanding of where labor costs are going.

“Every business and organization is different,” says Adrian Pop, a Regional Sales Representative supporting stratustime.  “Your time & attendance software has to work for people at all levels of your organization.”

For some companies, choosing stratustime is about solving needs related to wage & hour compliance. You can read about how stratustime helped bring two very different organizations peace of mind in our recent case study, “Clock In on Compliance.”

Download “Clock In on Compliance” here.

What happens when your time & attendance system can’t handle the basics?

One of Pop’s clients, an aftermarket automotive distributor with operations in multiple locations, had been using another automated system. As the company evolved, they discovered that their previous system’s definition of automated fell short of what they needed.

“They were managing hours from two different cost centers in one account,” Pop says. “They had hundreds of products, and they needed to know exactly where every hour was going.”

They thought their previous time & attendance system was tracking the information they needed. As it turned out, it wasn’t.

For starters, it wasn’t tracking sick or vacation time. Rather, all time-in and time-out punches fell under a general category.

“In order to decipher whether the time was holiday, vacation or sick, employees had to manually add side notes in the system,” Pop says. “And even when they did, which wasn’t all the time, reports at the end of each pay period did not reflect the notes.”

The other major issue was related to overtime. While the system tracked overtime, it did not send alerts to managers or the system administrator when the employees were approaching overtime.

“As you can imagine, this created some nightmare scenarios at the end of every pay period.”

What era is your time & attendance system in?

There are many benefits to moving toward a modern, automated time & attendance system. Ideally, your automated time & attendance system will:

  • Allow employees to punch-in and –out, track breaks, log PTO, check schedules, make schedule requests, and more—from whatever device or devices that make the most sense for your business
  • Provide alerts and notifications so management knows shifts are being covered, and alerts them when employees are late or absent
  • Give management an easy and efficient way to set schedules
  • Generate accurate, reliable reports that help your company in its effort to stay compliant with wage & hour laws and regulations
  • Provide labor reporting that can help you analyze and lower your labor costs

Product evolution is as important in the world of time & attendance software as it is in any other industry. And one of the key drivers is how certain features align with what an organization knows it needs now, and what it anticipates needing in the future.

Is your time & attendance software living in the moment, or stuck in the past? Find out how stratustime can give you the types of flexible, customizable time & attendance solutions you need. Give us a call today. We’ll put stratustime on the clock for you.

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