Six Methods of Tracking Time and Attendance

Some Time and Attendance methods are more effective than others depending on the nature of your business. Choosing the right method of timekeeping for your company requires the consideration of a number of variables. For example, mobile punching and PC entry might seem like the most economical alternatives since they don’t require the purchase and installation of separate time clocks. However, that might not be the case when the cost of time theft is taken into account. Time theft is costing companies upwards of $400 billion annually in lost productivity. Examples of time theft include employees clocking in early or late, taking extended breaks, lying on their time cards, or “buddy punching,” which is when a co-worker punches in for another worker to falsify the actual hours worked.

Another factor to consider is the type of work being done. Perhaps most of your staff doesn’t have direct access to a computer, or needs a “hands-free” method of punching in and out. There is no single method that functions best across the board, but some definitely work better than others. Below are a number of tools used for tracking employee hours, some pros and cons to each, and the percentage of time theft that occurs annually for each device. 

Online Web Portal

With an Online Web Portal, your employees will punch in and out on a computer. Allowing them to document their hours via an online portal certainly saves your company the cost of purchasing time clocks, but employees can easily fudge their hours worked and ultimately supervisors have no way of verifying accuracy. Web portals actually make up almost half of all time theft that occurs every year, at a shocking rate of 40%.

Mounted Wall Clocks

As the second highest perpetrator of time theft, mounted wall clocks allow the employee to punch in using a passcode. While these generally are less expensive than other devices, it is easy for “buddy punching” to occur. All one has to do is have a coworker punch in their code upon arrival to work, and they’re committing theft. Mounted wall clocks contribute to 18% of all time theft that occurs.

Paper Forms

Paper forms work in a similar manner as the online web portal, but the information is written by hand and turned in directly to a supervisor rather than inputted online. While time theft occurs in this manner less than half as often as when done online, at 17% it is still pretty significant. Furthermore, this method creates much more work for all parties involved, as the numbers will need to be manually entered and the risk of human error is therefore much higher.

Mobile Devices

The benefit to punching in with a mobile device is also the drawback: employees can clock in from anywhere. This is really effective if you have employees who work from multiple locations, provided that they are honest about where they are when they clock in. Mobile punching factors in at 10% of all time theft, so be sure you only offer this feature to employees you trust.

Paper Punch Cards

Paper punch cards are fairly efficient in the time theft department (only 5%) and is a relatively inexpensive option. However, they reduce productivity in the amount of time it takes to gather and input data, and in the corporate world that can affect productivity significantly.

Biometric Clocks

Although the price of biometric clocks is higher than the alternatives, they are still often the most cost efficient option. The clocks work seamlessly with your Time and Attendance software, so there is little room for human error and you will save an incredible amount of time by not having to enter punches in manually. Additionally, they only have a 3% rate of time theft, so they will end up paying for themselves before long. 


There are other more obscure methods of tracking employee hours, such as employees calling a hotline to clock in and out, but these are used infrequently and are more work than they are worth. The remaining 7% of time theft occurs with these methods.

As you can see, biometric clocks have the smallest percentage of time theft; this is because the facial recognition and fingerprint options require the employee to physically be at the location. In addition, its seamless connection with your payroll software allows the administrator to apply grace periods and rounding rules that increase punch accuracy and virtually eliminate theft. However, some people prefer to stick with what they know, and that’s ok! With Dominion Systems, we offer all options to you and your employees to maximize efficiency and limit the amount of time theft that occurs within your company.

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