Staffing Management

Best Ways to Track Employee Attendance (2023)

By Staff Report

Mar. 17, 2023

With 56% of small businesses planning to spend more on employee compensation this year, it’s essential to get a handle on your business operations and workforce expenses. 

Without an attendance tracking system, you won’t have the oversight you need to ensure you’re staying within budget, remaining compliant, and keeping accurate records.

Tracking time and attendance is a basic and crucial workplace function, but it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start or determine your best option. We’ve put together a brief overview of some options, as well as the best way to track employee attendance.

Unreliable ways to track attendance

Using a punch card 

Punch cards are an old-school way of tracking time and attendance, where employees stick a card into a reader and clock in and clock out times are marked on their card. 

With punch cards, you can run into the issue of buddy punching. Buddy punching is the practice of clocking in for a coworker, and it’s been found to cost employers about $373 million annually.   

Another problem with the punch card system is your inability to monitor or view updates online; you can’t check on your teams or different store locations remotely. Instead, managers are left in the dark about employee attendance, who’s about to reach overtime, and how employee wages are impacting the bottom line. 

Using key cards 

The upside of using key or badge cards is speeding up the clock in and out process. Cards are swiped quickly, so employee lines are limited. 

But badges are easily forgotten or misplaced, resulting in needing to clock in manually or using a temporary badge. Clocking in manually and managing temporary badges defeats the efficiency of having a key card system. 

Tracking employee attendance in Excel

A free solution to track employee time is with a timesheet. If you keep it digital, you can use a template in Excel that easily calculates everything for you. If you go the hardcopy route, you can print physical timesheets for employees to use. 

But how do you monitor your employees’ time or get an overview of schedules? How do you ensure no one is hitting overtime? 

A major risk with tracking employee attendance manually is the lack of control and oversight in your day-to-day business. Not to mention the room you leave for time theft or losing track of accurate records. 

Manual time tracking systems don’t allow managers to accurately oversee overtime or streamline their payroll processes. Processing payroll becomes incredibly time consuming and inefficient; managers must manually tally attendance data, leaving room for costly errors. 

Accuracy matters because companies may pay the price for poorly managed payroll practices, and inaccurate record-keeping can mean hefty fines or IRS penalties

The most efficient way to track attendance 

Time and attendance management is about more than just punching a clock. It’s about saving managers’ time, keeping accurate records, and monitoring employee hours. 

Time and attendance software is a one-stop-shop for your attendance and scheduling needs. In one system:

  • Employees can clock in and out with a time clock app, including GPS and photo verification
  • You can see everyone’s schedules and and real-time attendance in one place online 
  • You can quickly approve timesheets, shift swaps, and time-off requests 

Using time and attendance software allows you to streamline your processes and record time with the best possible accuracy, so you keep your business running in accordance with local and state laws while maximizing profits. 

If you are a manager overseeing hourly employees in retail, hospitality, restaurant, or another shift worker space, here are six benefits to using software to track employee attendance: 

1. Prevent buddy punching 

Gone are the days of time theft being easy to swing. 

Avoid the risk of buddy punching with electronic photo verification. This solution involves unique passcodes and photo verification for each clock in and clock out, so managers can see the right person clocked in for the right shift. 

2. Monitor unauthorized breaks and clock-out times 

Taking unscheduled breaks or working beyond the allotted time is a costly practice that impacts more than profits; it poorly affects team members.

When an employee takes a longer or unscheduled break, the rest of their team has to pick up the slack, take their breaks later, or worse: miss out on a break altogether to ensure appropriate coverage. 

Using time and attendance software allows you to manage costs and protect your team’s morale by making sure employees are clocking in and out when scheduled. 

3. Ensure location accuracy with GPS  

Another form of time theft is when employees are not where they say they are when they’re clocked in.

An example is when you have employees on the road or at a remote work site. With GPS tracking, you’re able to see that they’re in the right location when they clock in and out. is broken down by location and teams so each manager can view their team and ensure everyone is where they are scheduled to be. 

4. Avoid unnecessary overtime costs  

At the start of 2020, 1.3 million American workers were made eligible for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). To protect yourself from financial penalties, you need to make sure you’re following regulations and work schedule laws can send you or your managers alerts when an employee is approaching overtime so you can avoid unnecessarily paying those extra costs.

Also read: How to reduce overtime to save money and engage employees.

5. View real-time employee attendance 

How can your team provide exemplary customer service when someone’s always coming in late or skipping shifts all together? 

Absenteeism not only impacts the customer experience, it affects your bottom line. For each hourly employee, unexpected absences cost roughly $3,600 a year. Absences are a part of business, but they can be monitored and prevented. 

Managing the attendance of employees across locations can be a challenge. No manager wants to be left in the dark or find out there is a staffing issue after the fact. 

Seeing employee attendance in real-time gives you a sense of ease. Rather than worrying about how things are going, you can take a quick peek on your mobile app and rest assured your teams are performing across locations. 

The key to success as a manager is being proactive. Are there any employees who habitually come to work late? Clock out early? Take longer breaks? Stay on top of employee performance and habits in real-time. 

With, managers can easily keep track of attendance on the go. You get to see who’s in, who’s on break, and who’s scheduled to come in—all in one place.  

 6. Understand employee productivity and demand

With the ebb and flow of customer demand, it’s important to make sure staffing matches the tides. 

The problem is, most retailers aren’t sure how to determine the optimal amount of staffing. You may be tempted to follow your instinct and base schedules on when you expect busy periods. But why leave so much up to chance?

Scheduling shouldn’t be a guessing game, but it turns into one without a system in place. When you approach staffing systematically, you can add as much as 20% in revenue, according to Harvard Business Review

Make sound decisions based on real-time data with time and attendance software. provides a productivity ratio per employee, so managers know how many sales each employee can handle in specified time slots. Managers can see at a glance the recommended staff count by the day and hour, without the guesswork.’s Live Wage Tracker shows when you are under or overstaffed based on demand. 

Practicing effective attendance management 

Time and attendance software takes the headache out of tracking your hourly employees. has automatic systems in place to help you streamline your processes, save time, and protect your bottom line. Book your demo today.

Schedule, engage, and pay your staff in one system with