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Guide to attendance management and timesheets

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For decades, companies have been using the traditional paper timesheet to monitor employee attendance and track what work is completed. However, leading organisations are now turning to more sophisticated time attendance software for higher accuracy and efficiency. Let’s look at what these tools have to offer.

What is a timesheet?

A timesheet records the amount of time an employee has spent working on a task or project, where they did the work, and – if for an agency – which client they did the work for. This allows the employer to understand how much time individual workers spend on certain types of work and whether the employee is completing goals within the predicted timeframes.

A timesheet was traditionally a paper document that the employee would fill in at the end of the day, but many companies now use a more sophisticated digital time attendance system that provides greater detail and accuracy.

Different types of companies will require different kinds of employee attendance sheets. A solicitor will need to provide information about the amount of time spent on individual cases, whereas a construction worker will need to register the time spent on site.

Implementing a time attendance sheet

Time attendance software is a type of technology that allows you to track and monitor when employees start and end their work. It can be customised to fit your needs and the kind of business you run, including time arrived on site, number of hours worked, clients, or type of project. A time attendance system can also connect to your payroll and tax payment system.

The advantage of attendance management software is that it gives you much higher efficiency than traditional paper-based timesheets. Where a paper timesheet can get lost or be illegible, a digital one immediately stores your data. There is also far less scope for errors in transcribing timesheets, meaning payroll is always correct. For your HR department, this means fewer headaches, while the whole process feels much more transparent for employees.

Time and attendance management system

A time attendance management system can be customised to fit around how your company works and what your employees do. For example, if you were a regional airline, your cabin crew might not be able to quickly log their attendance onto a computer if they’re staying overnight in Abu Dhabi or Cairo, so the system would be tailored to allow staff to register their hours via a smartphone attendance app. On the other hand, factory staff in Beirut might record their hours on a tablet computer at the entrance to the plant.

In any case, a typical time attendance management system will usually include a personal dashboard where the employee can record the hours worked and the tasks completed. It might also include a paid vacation or sick leave form, an expenses sheet or a benefits request portal. This is then automatically submitted to their manager for approval. Once approved, the system would connect with your company’s payroll system to ensure all data is processed on time.

Sage attendance and payroll hardware

Until recently, many workers would register that they had arrived and left their employer’s premises by using a simple ‘clocking in’ machine. However, this technology is archaic and has its limits – it was easy for staff to falsify their attendance, and there were also security risks.

There is now a growing range of biometric attendance systems that make it much more secure and efficient to monitor employee attendance. Because these tools use biometric measures to identify who has come on premises, there can be no doubt about how much time a worker was working, meaning there is greater transparency for all.

Employee attendance hardware

Here are some of the most widely used types of employee attendance hardware:

  • Fingerprint attendance system: With a fingerprint attendance system, an employee holds their finger to a scanner at the entrance to your premises and the system will record what time they arrived and departed.
  • Biometric attendance system: This kind of tool uses one (or more) physical identifiers of the worker, such as lenses of their eyes, their fingerprint or even their faces.
  • Attendance punching machine: These are the ‘traditional’ attendance monitoring tools. A worker will pick up a card, and this will be time-stamped by a computer to register when they arrived and left the building.
  • PC-based clocking in: If your employees mainly work in an office, your IT system can be connected to your payroll system to monitor when the worker logged into and out of their computer.
  • Badge: There are various time cards and badges that can include tracking devices that help you monitor where an employee is physically on your site, through GPS or wireless signals.
  • Swipe card: Swipe cards mean the holder can access certain parts of your building – allowing for different levels of security for different personnel.

The benefits of an attendance management system

Modern time attendance tracking systems give employers and employees alike many benefits. For the business owner, they can feel sure that staff are doing their jobs. For HR, these systems allow them to much more easily monitor the work that employees have done, how many hours they’ve worked, and if they are eligible for holiday or benefits. And for the employees themselves, these kinds of systems mean there will never be missed payments due to lost timesheets, and they also get real transparency over their pay.