How to Choose the Right Time Clock

Since the dawn of time humans have had jobs and shortly after that, methods of monitoring time to track time worked. That may or may not be historically accurate but you get what I’m trying to say. A lot of companies have hourly workforces and keeping track of that time is the baseline for very important core business processes such as: 

  • Benefits 
  • Affordable care act policy 
  • Overtime 
  • Scheduling 
  • Labor/overhead/department costs 
  • Taxes 

That’s why finding the right clock for you and your company is so important. You need to make sure the process will be accurate, beneficial for employees and easily linked to the rest of your back office processes. 

Punch clock

Super old school. Employee sticks card in slot, machine punches time and date that employee checked in. Payroll person collects time cards at end of the week (or every two weeks) to put into payroll. This is a very labor intensive, manual process that has quite a few cons and not many pros.

The big con of using a punch clock for your timekeeping is it doesn’t do anything to eliminate errors or time theft.

“While it’s hard to get a handle on the losses caused by time theft, one study estimates that it costs U.S. employers more than $400 billion per year in lost productivity.  10 and 15 minutes here and there add up to big losses over time.”[1]

It’s easy for employees to fudge their numbers or fudge their buddies’ numbers. Then a person has to manually add up hours from the timesheets, put them into a payroll system and run payroll. A missed keystroke, smudged number or brain fart is bound to happen. 

Digital Clock

Basically the digital version of punch card clock. Employee swipes card, machine “punches” card – remembers time and date employee punched in digitally. Payroll can have payroll software hooked up to this clock to easily import hours. 

The pro of running time & attendance with a digital clock is that there is a lot less room for error versus punch clocks. No missed keystrokes or numbers skipped over, all data can be (and should be) sent straight to payroll. 

Con is there is still a chance for time theft - employees can swipe for other employee who are not there or are running late. 

Time Station

This is like a time clock assigned to a computer or work station. Employee goes to work station, computer remembers when they sign on and off, keeping track of their time by however long they are on the station. Easy for importing into payroll system if integration available. Time stations can also work with proxy badges. Employees have a card with them at all times that when waved in front of the station, unlocks it and logs the time they entered/exited the terminal. 

The pro and con for using time stations is a one sided coin. Employees must stay stagnant at a single workstation, so you know you’re only paying them for the time they are there. But they could still have their friend log or swipe them in, not to mention not doing work even though they’re at the workstation. 

Finger scanning

Now we’re getting more high tech! Time clocks previously mentioned use either what you carry (keycard, punchcard) or what you know (pin number, password). Biometric and finger scanning use what you have at all times (fingerprint, eye, face) to clock you in and out. 

First off, a fingerprint clock is accessed by employees using their palm or finger to ‘punch in’ to the time and attendance system. Employees log out by repeating the same procedure. 

The pro for finger scanning clocks is it’s really tough to falsify clocking in. Another pro, you don’t need to keep track of punch or digital cards and employees don’t need to remember a specific code for them to log in.  

Biometric Clocks

Super high tech stuff. This time clock has a camera that recognizes employees faces. Employee gets to work, goes to the clock, camera senses/recognizes them and logs them into time and attendance. Logs out when they leave and show their face again. Biometrics can also use fingerprint scanning. 

The really cool part about biometrics is that Instead of just reading a fingerprint or face, it analyzes ‘swirls’ in the fingerprint or features of the face. The clock then creates a numeric template or code associated to the swirls or features. There is no stored image or memory of your fingerprint, just the numeric code associated with the swirls. This protects employee’s information and fingerprints from potential attacks. 

A con of using these clocks is cost. All of that technology comes at a price and you’re going to have to pay up if you want to use biometric clocks.