It's About Time...

How To Get Started Using Employee Time Clock Software

There are many reasons businesses choose to begin using employee time clock software. The two most common are to make the payroll process more efficient and to hold employees accountable for their time and attendance. Processing payroll is a labor and time intensive activity that contributes nothing to the bottom line of your business, and yet it's indispensable for keeping your business operating smoothly. Gathering timecards from a mechanical punch clock or collecting paper timesheets, adding up all the employee payroll hours with a calculator, applying different overtime rules, and converting the hours worked to decimal format for easier payroll entry all require a tremendous amount of time and effort, every single payroll period. Employee time clock software can help consolidate or even eliminate most of these procedures. Employee time clock software also increases worker accountability because every punch time is accurately and impartially recorded. This helps keep honest workers honest, and dishonest workers from stealing time when manually recording their hours worked on a paper timesheet. If you've come to the point where you know you need to make a change in your time and attendance procedures, the hardest part sometimes is knowing where to begin. The following suggestions will help you get started using employee time clock software.

Take Advantage of Free Time Clock Software Trials
Many time and attendance software vendors offer free time clock software trials. This is a great way to test different kinds of time and attendance systems without committing immediately to one particular solution. There are, however, a couple of things to be aware of that may affect your free time clock software trial. Make sure the software you'll be evaluating is the fully functioning version of the software you'll be asked to buy. This will eliminate any surprises later because you'll be able to test all of the advertised features and reporting before making a purchase. The trial will also give you an opportunity to try out the time clock software vendor's support services and resources. The free time clock software trial may have a time limitation so make sure your testing is focused on the features you'll be using the most.

Decide Where to Deploy the Time Clock Stations
Once you've decided on the employee time clock software that works best for your business, the next step is to decide how to deploy your time tracking stations. If you only have a handful of employees, then it may make sense to install the time clock software on a stand-alone computer in a centralized and convenient location like the break room or main employee entrance. If you have a greater number of workers or you want to take advantage of some of the more advanced punch clock program features like the in/out board, then you may want to network multiple computer time tracking stations together. This will provide you with the efficiency that comes from having multiple time tracking stations for workers to punch in and out from, plus it will allow managers to keep track of employees from the convenience of their own desks. Another option is to install time clock software on all your employee computer workstations and have all employees clock in and out from their own personal punch clock. At this point, you should be ready to make a purchase because you'll know how many computers you want to put a punch clock on, and how many users will be using the time clock software.

Complete a Payroll Cycle with Several 'Test' Employees
Once you've installed the time clock software on the appropriate computers throughout the organization, it's time to start using it. Remember, you've already tested the features during your free time clock software trial so there shouldn't be any big surprises. A good thing to do is to run the new time and attendance system alongside the old one with several employees for a complete payroll cycle. At the end of the payroll period, you'll be able to compare the results and make any configuration changes before rolling the new system out to the rest of your staff. Think of this as the 'fine tuning' stage. This is an important step and one you won't want to skip. This phase should allow you to finalize security and configuration settings based on the workflow of your organization. For example, do you need to move the time clock to a more convenient location for employees or are the clock in rules too restrictive? This also allows you to work through different scenarios, like what to do when a worker forgets to clock out, or how to handle requests for time off. Working through these issues when only a few employees are using the new time and attendance system will save you a lot of headaches and hassles later because you won't be trying to deal with these issues when the entire staff is using the new system.

Listen to the Feedback of Your Employees
The final step in successfully deploying employee time clock software is to listen to the feedback of your employees. This is very important because it sets the tone for the rest of the office. Most employees will be resistant to change and scared of something new. Many times this fear takes the form of negative attitudes about the new software, especially if they've been taking advantage of a paper timesheet system. These attitudes can be contagious so it's important to get them under control early on. It's a good idea to seriously consider the feedback of those who are using the time clock on a day-to-day basis because now is the perfect time to update processes or make justified changes to your business rules. What are the points of friction? Employees who are asked to participate in the process are much more likely to have a positive experience with the proposed changes and champion the new system to the rest of the staff. Having a strategy to get started can make the difference between a successful time and attendance implementation and one that is plagued with obstacles and resistance.