Time and Attendance

What Is Time and Attendance?

What is Time and Attendance?

Time & Attendance helps you:

  • Organize and track employee hours and schedules
  • Prevent time theft and improve employee accountability
  • Track and monitor employee time, activities and productivity
  • Automate payroll and benefits processing and delivery
  • Comply with industry and government regulations

Organize and track employee hours and schedules

Gone are the days of filing in one-by-one, standing in line, taking your timecard and feeding it into a machine at the beginning and end of your day. The rise of flex schedules, freelancers and remote workers has muddied employers’ abilities to organize their labor cohesively.

Enter time and attendance software.

Workers arrive and leave at different times, need to hit certain hour requirements, swap shifts and deal with all the complicated scenarios that come with life outside of the workplace. With more than 158 million people projected to go to work in the U.S. in 2020, the mess of attendance tracking can pile up on supervisors quickly.

TAA software provides coordinators with the ability to automate or streamline employee scheduling and clock punching. A rise in mobile and web-based time clocks benefits off-site workers, with the ability to verify worker identification (which we’ll get to later).

Time and attendance also simplifies scheduling. Most vendors offer drag-and-drop interfaces and project employee hours during a pay period.

On the employee side, some solutions allow them to input their preferred schedules and request shift swaps. Some take it a step further and allow schedule managers and workers to communicate in-platform about assignments.

Increase employee accountability and reduce time theft

According to a 2017 market survey by TSheets, U.S. employers lose at least $373 million annually to “buddy punching,” the slang term for employees punching in or out for fellow employees. While it’s almost never malicious, showing up late or leaving early every once in a while adds up, and can cost a business hundreds of labor hours annually.

Both software-and hardware-based time clocks have several ways of preventing this. Here are some features that both types of platform enlist:

Software or web-based

  • GPS tracking and geofencing to make sure a worker isn’t punching in from home or the bus
  • Facial recognition in conjunction with a device’s camera to verify employee identity


  • Employee badge or fob scanning
  • Facial recognition from the manual time clock
  • Biometrics, like fingerprint scanning

TAA software extends beyond just authenticating when workers go on and off the clock, though. It can also make sure time theft and distractions are avoided once the employees are on site, too.

Track and monitor employee time, activities and productivity

TAA solutions do much more than tell your employees when to show up and leave and what work to do, though.

While time clocks are the “Attendance,” the “Time” part can be something else entirely: what employees are doing while they’re on the clock.

A survey by Salary.com showed that 60% of employees admit to some nonproductive activities at work, with more than 20% of workers claiming to waste up to five hours a week.

Making sure workers stay on task is a growing issue as more jobs go remote and become internet reliant. Because of this, some software allow for productivity management, whether it be through blocking certain websites, tracking screenshots, video or keystrokes of a worker’s monitor, tracking GPS location in real time or just overall productivity tracking on projects.

It’s not just productivity either. According to the 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report by Verizon, roughly a fifth of data breaches come from miscellaneous errors, like sending sensitive data to the wrong recipient, and 34% originate from within a company. Employee monitoring software lets bosses protect from negligent practices that could lead to a leak.

One thing for software shoppers to consider, however, is the ethics of employee monitoring and how far they are willing to go with it.

Automate payroll and benefits processing and delivery

Employees need to receive compensation. TAA applications can automate that process by delivering payroll internally or streamline it by allowing for easy data export into Excel, CSV or PDF format, which can then be delivered to a third-party payroll provider or accountant.

But it’s not just about cash, either. Most TAA systems have some form of benefits tracking, be it the accrual of paid time off, sick days or counting time until a benefits threshold is achieved. It can intertwine with scheduling modules, allowing employees to request and employers to deny/approve time off. A shared view lets managers and workers both see if the employee qualifies for time off and what times are best to use it.

TAA solutions should:

  • Enable export to a third-party payroll provider.
  • Track employee hours in the context of overtime, and assist managers with managing it.
  • Track benefits and their accrual.

Comply with industry and government regulations

How up-to-date are you on current labor legislation?

Keeping track of legal changes is not only time consuming, but it can also be hard to interpret with all of its jargon. And, unless you’ve really got your finger on the pulse of both your state and federal legal systems, you could be blindsided by or completely miss new regulations, throwing your business into compliance turmoil.

TAA tools enable businesses to offer healthcare coverage, make sure employees are taking proper breaks and meet labor law posting requirements.

Some vendors employ staff specifically to monitor changes in legislation and consult with businesses about compliance with laws like the Affordable Care Act, Fair Labor Standards Act or the Family and Medical Leave Act. Others provide support on industry standards like the Defense Contract Audit Agency requirements.

Different companies have to be compliant for different things, and TAA software can automate and ensure that your business meets all relevant requirements.


What is Time and Attendance?

Time and attendance is an aspect of workforce time management, either through time clocks, time tracking software or hardware. At its core, a TAA system is responsible for the automation or streamlining of employee hours logging and tracking. It can (and should) include other features that assist with time management, like activity monitoring, benefits management or costing calculation.

Because there are so many different business types out there, TAA systems are built in various ways. Many of the industry leaders started out of a need for better internal time management for a company and spun off into a new brand entirely, building its foundation out of those principles. ClockShark, for example, was developed internally by a construction company with a focus on managing remote labor before it became a competitor in the field service industry.

Every business needs to track its employees’ labor to properly compensate them, and TAA provides a solution for the different needs of different businesses.

Why is Time and Attendance Important?

Every business has workers, and every worker needs to be adequately compensated. To do that, knowing what and how much work was done is essential.

The utilization of tracking time and attendance takes the labor out of labor tracking, doing away with manual time cards and hour tallying.

TAA solutions optimize worker and resource efficiency by increasing visibility and accountability. It automates tedious and time-consuming tasks like wage compensation calculation, payroll deployment and benefits tracking. It can make sure businesses stay in compliance with labor regulations.

In short, TAA is important because it increases profitability and productivity, and keeps business owners out of court.

What Features Should I Look For in a Time and Attendance System?

This varies from business to business and person to person. But there are some overarching capabilities that all enterprises should look for in a TAA system:

  • User-Friendly: Let’s say you own a hardware store. You’re going to have some employees that can build a chainsaw or lawn mower from nothing but a pile of parts blindfolded and dangling by their feet with a hand tied behind their back. But tasking those same employees with clocking in and out on a computer is the equivalent of asking them to fly a spaceship (wisdom I’ve gleaned from personal experience). Making a TAA system as accessible to workers as it is to managers is essential.
  • Time Management: At a bare minimum, TAA products should log when employees are on and off the clock. Otherwise, why even get one? But the standards extend beyond that into schedule building, overtime calculation, time-off tracking, missed punch correction, productivity monitoring and more. A good TAA system will automate as many time-tracking related tasks as possible, including exporting relevant data to payroll.
  • Security: This applies three-fold. A TAA system should:
    • Make sure employee information is safe.
    • Give employees access to the parts of the system they need to do their jobs. A line cook shouldn’t get access to change their punch-in time, but maybe their shift supervisor should if they miss a punch, if upper management wants to delegate time clock correcting to them.
  • Compliance: Any shift scheduling capabilities need to be paired with policy rules to stay within the bounds of labor law. Your shift builder shouldn’t let you schedule a worker for 60 hours a week with no overtime calculation.
  • Integrations: Do you already have a project tracker like Trello or Slack? Are you using a payroll provider like Quickbooks? A good TAA system should cooperate with your existing workflow infrastructure.
  • Business-Specific Functionalities: Each business functions differently, and should think about what they need out of a TAA system. Do you have three offices or have work sites that change regularly? You might need mobile and GPS support. Are your employees prone to falling down YouTube rabbit holes? Perhaps you want a time tracker with the ability to screenshot workers’ monitors. Do you have salaried and hourly wage workers? Your TAA software will need to be able to handle that. There is a multitude of TAA solutions on the market, and there likely is one designed to handle a business just like yours.

How Do I Select a Time and Attendance System?

When it comes time to automate your time and attendance needs, choosing the right solution is important. There’s a lot to consider. Does this system fit the needs of a company my size? Will it adequately work with the location of my employees? How tech-competent are my employees? How much should I monitor my workers’ activities? How do I need/want my employees to clock in/out? Do I need business intelligence insights and productivity evaluation?

It can get overwhelming quickly. SelectHub exists to bear some of the load. We have created a requirements template that can be tooled to your business’s needs, and our Features and Requirements Checklist can give you a more detailed view of what different products offer to help you start constructing your ideal vendor.

Or, if you’d rather have some hands-on assistance in the process, we’d love to help! You can call us at 855-850-3850 or email support@selecthub.com to get in touch with our team for individualized vendor recommendations.

Most Popular Articles

Recent Articles

Confidence Comes from Data

Time and attendance software selection is complex and beset with problems for both IT buyers and solution providers. We do 3 things to make it fast and simple:

FREE Software Selection Platform

Our platform provides best-practices, including requirements templates & vendor comparisons, to help you make the right decisions for your unique needs, in a fraction of the time. Try it FREE.

Aggregated Reviews

We have collected every software review available online, crunched every last word using our proprietary Sentiment Analysis algorithms, all so we can tell you how a software product is viewed in its marketplace, retrospectively.

Professional Analysis

We relentlessly collect and analyze data about software, then compile and share it so every company has the same access to the information. The information we gain is then used in our Software Selection platform to help you find the right software.

Your Guides

Our Industry Journalists proudly distill the helpful information you read on SelectHub, always on the mission to share what matters to you can make your best decisions independently.

Time and Attendance articles are written and edited by:

Zachary Totah

Content Manager

As SelectHub’s Content Manager, Zachary Totah leads a team of more than 35 writers and editors in their quest to provide content that helps software buyers find the right system for their company.

Show More

Camille Graham

Content Editor and Market Research Analyst

A Technical Content Editor and Market Research Analyst, Camille joined the SelectHub team in the summer of 2021.

Show More

Mary Connors

Content Writer

Mary Connors is a Content Writer for SelectHub who enjoys empowering companies in their software decision making.

Show More

What Is Buddy Punching? A Comprehensive Guide

No comments
November 9, 2023
Missed punch-ins, late breaks and forgotten clock-outs happen every day. These examples of missed time are typically easy to correct and often viewed as no big deal, but buddy punching isn’t a standard error in time tracking.

Some view it as just a simple favor between coworkers, but it contributes to time theft.

Olivia EdensWhat Is Buddy Punching? A Comprehensive Guide
read more

The Best Cloud Time and Attendance Software

No comments
November 8, 2023
From lost key fobs to forgotten passwords, losing data is a major stressor and often gets in the way of getting work done. What if you could store everything safe and sound remotely? With cloud time and attendance software, you can!

If incomplete timesheets force you to burn the midnight oil, it’s time to level up your time and attendance game. In this article, we’ll introduce you to our expert-curated list of cloud time and attendance tools, benefits and key features.

Olivia EdensThe Best Cloud Time and Attendance Software
read more

The Best Free Time Tracking Apps

No comments
October 30, 2023
Manually recording hours worked has wasted countless pieces of paper stock over the years. Luckily, there’s a new way of tracking employee time, saving trees and time simultaneously — all from your trusted mobile device.

Managing time and attendance no longer requires tedious roll calls or outdated time punches. Boost payroll accuracy and streamline your timekeeping approach without going over budget by switching to a free time tracking app.

Olivia EdensThe Best Free Time Tracking Apps
read more

Time And Attendance RFP: A Comprehensive Guide

No comments
October 30, 2023
When it comes to payroll, every minute counts. That’s why time and attendance tracking is a must-have! A time and attendance tracking solution ensures your employees are compensated fairly and scheduled within legal guidelines.

To access time and attendance (TAA) services or make new purchases, a request for proposal (also known as an RFP) helps find the best vendor for you. In this article, we’ll help you navigate how to write a time and attendance RFP and dive into essential components, evaluating potential vendors and what makes RFPs indispensable to your business.

Olivia EdensTime And Attendance RFP: A Comprehensive Guide
read more

Time and Attendance System Features and Requirements Checklist

October 27, 2023
Time and attendance tracking is one of any business’s most vital day-to-day operations. It may seem trivial, but managing hours is crucial for all members of an organization.

With the right time and attendance management system features, staying on top of your team’s details is much easier. An all-inclusive system can handle standard scheduling capabilities and more advanced functions like reporting.

Ivy PopeTime and Attendance System Features and Requirements Checklist
read more