employees are supposed to start working a shift at or it’s unlikely the boss is waiting
to observe a grand entrance into the workplace. He just wants to know that Sue
came in on time, as scheduled, ready for work. The watch dog at the door is
usually a time clock system; employees are responsible for following procedures
to record their arrival.
are the days when workers routinely lined up to take their time card out of its
appointed spot in order to punch into one clock. Today’s employees swipe bar
coded ID cards into a variety of clocks, use hand held devices, log on web
based programs, check into point of sale systems and scan a finger or hand into
a biometric device.
The Sign-In Sheet
to find employers who eschew technology and rely on paper and pencil for
timekeeping. Management verifies multiple sheets with repeated manual checks
and reviews between supervisors, accounting and payroll. During my first days in
human resources at Hyatt Hotels I learned that the company philosophy favored
time sheets as more personal and user friendly. It did not take long for personal
and user friendly to be trumped by accurate and time saving as time clocks
emerged that fed information directly to payroll. Getting a correct paycheck is
very user friendly!
sheets can also raise wage and hour questions about overtime exempt status. If
the person is not eligible to earn overtime why do I need to know that they
worked 47 hours last week? Not a problem if there are no questions about the
correct classification, a potential minefield if the classification is murky.
What happens when they lose the
get lost as easily as cell phones and keys. They are also misplaced, forgotten
and damaged. Savvy employers charge employees to replace expensive lost time
cards embedded with bar codes or magnetic strips. Smart policies also recommend
discipline for employees who repeatedly fail to record their time. Funny how
the customer service rep who always seems to leave her card at home is the same
person who never answers any calls.
can be pretty creative in their approach to time keeping systems. One of my
favorite examples came from two employees who worked an overnight shift setting
up conference center meeting rooms. Supervisors and security suspected that in
the middle of each shift one left work, leaving his friend to complete the work
and punch out for both. The employee entrance security video caught one leaving
right after he swiped a card that was not his. He explained, “I borrowed my
friends’ uniform pants and his ID card must have been the one in the pocket,
The Hills and Valleys at the End of
time clocks prevent the “buddy punching” described in my tale. These devices
include readers of fingers or hands that match a map of each individual. Jose
Gaona, Director of Product Management & Operations for Qqest Software Systems, makers of TimeForce,
a software based time and attendance system, has seen a world of changes with
more than 25 years in the industry. Biometrics became more popular after 9/11
because as Gaona describes, “They identify the person in a more secure way.”
fears are overcome with enhanced security and accuracy. Employees can be told,
“This is your time and your pay.” All kinds of time keeping systems can be
adapted to the environment with clocks available that perform outside in sub
zero temperatures and others that are protected from spills and crashes.
Time Clocks and Small Employers
systems are common in large work sites but can also be practical for small
employers. Gaona reports, “It’s not really the size of the company but rather
the complexity of the operation that justifies the investment.” He described a
15 employee security company that used a biometric system to track not only ins
and outs but also rounds during shifts. A security staffer can’t sit in a chair
all night and send someone else to point their finger at a biometric device;
they have to get up to get to the area.
None of the
bells and whistles will help if they don’t meet your needs. If you are
considering a time clock system for the first time or a change in an existing
one ask not only for references but try to see the product in operation. Don’t
wait for a ghost story to implement a system but if you have any great tales,
share them. They provide a chuckle and tips for improving time and attendance.