Best Employee Time Tracking Software: Top Solutions for 2021

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Time and attendance software is becoming all the more important. Specifically, employee time tracking software is becoming more essential for many businesses to maintain profitability with less in-office work and accountability.

Labor is changing. Remote work is skyrocketing in popularity, quadrupling since 2010, with no sign of slowing, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. This brings challenges in tracking labor. No longer can supervisors poke their heads into offices to ensure their workers are present.

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Best Time Tracking Software

Time tracking allows companies to not only hold employees accountable, but monitor and promote productivity and profitability. It allows closer watching of specific projects and demonstrates how company time is spent and where improvements can be made.

In this article, we’ll outline exactly what employee time tracking software does, what to look for and how to evaluate what your company needs in a solution. We’ll also provide our list of five best employee tracking apps, as evaluated by SelectHub’s expert analysts.

What is Time Tracking Software?

People use project and time tracking tools for different purposes. It’s essential at virtually every level of industry, from freelance work to international enterprises.

Employee time tracking allows businesses to do a number of things. It centralizes timekeeping and hours logging, building a more accurate database of billable and nonbillable labor. But the big difference between employee time tracking software and overarching time and attendance software is the ability to go deeper than just punch-ins and punch-outs. Time tracking means investigating how time on the clock is spent, what projects are worked on and how efficient and productive operations are.

Most software can sort employee activities and labor by hours, projects and tasks. It gives managers insight into who is working on what and when they are doing so. Online time tracking software also provide them with a basis to determine if their employees are being as productive as possible.

In the U.S. alone, employers lose more than $11 billion annually to productivity shortfalls. That doesn’t even include inaccurate timesheets, or “buddy punching.” Productivity fails for a whole host of reasons, which we don’t need to get into here. What is important is that a lack of productivity can be expensive for a company. Fortunately, there are often simple remedies to address the issue. Employee tracking apps and software allow companies to see where the shortcomings are and if corrective measures are working.

A host of features devoted to tracking employee activities and increasing employee accountability make time tracking essential for some companies.

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Time Tracking Software Features

Key Features

Time Tracking

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the most important part of this software is time tracking. Employees need to be able to clock-in and clock-out and have their hours accurately logged. This helps for accurate bookkeeping, finance management and labor law compliance, even in the case of salaried workers that don’t rely on timesheets.

A time tracking app should have an intuitive punch clock function that is easily accessible. It should allow employees to track their hours worked visibly and in real time. Additionally, providing timesheet alteration and correction both on the employee and manager side with infrastructure for checks and confirmation is pivotal to make sure timesheets are submitted correctly with accurate information.

Activity Tracking

Four out of five companies monitor their employee’s activities in some fashion. While it is a polarizing subject, activity tracking doesn’t necessarily have to be employee monitoring and doesn’t have to carry its controversial connotation.

Activity tracking can simply be employees logging their hours and projects worked on. This allows management and administration to decode business inefficiencies and places for improvement.

But it’s also an avenue for distrusting management to glean deeper insights into how employees spend their time: what websites they go to, how often they are typing, even what their screens look like through screenshot taking.

Ultimately, activity tracking is an essential, but malleable, feature. It is up to management to decide just how to implement it.

Project Management

Project tracking helps management evaluate their processes on the levels of personnel and tasks. Individual projects can be tracked in the context of time spent, workers assigned and progress made. It can also include auxiliary components such as job cost tracking.

Intertwining project management with employee time management not only helps managers better monitor worker performance but increases accurate billing and overall operations intelligence. Over time, repeated projects become more informed and companies can more accurately convey projections to clients and customers.

It also provides a basis for employee evaluation. If a project takes too long or costs too much, employers can begin to investigate the cause. If need be, they can be looked into on the employee level.

Reporting

What good is having all the information if you can’t interpret it? Reporting is a key component of employee time tracking software. This can come in the form of dashboards, file reports or discrepancy flags in the cases of suspicious timesheet entries and similar events.

Often, data is displayed in graphs, making it easier to interpret. In the context of time, line graphs show trends in employee hours, activity, projects and more. Employee efficacy can be compiled and smarter software can highlight shortcomings in productivity. Some solutions also have deep financial reporting features to best display expected and actual expenses in labor and projects.

Business-Specific Features

Obviously, every business is different with different needs. If your business operates more in the field and less in an office, you probably don’t care about screenshots and keystroke logging. You’ll care more about GPS tracking, offline capabilities and more specific project management features.

You may also care more about automation of tasks depending on the size of your employee base. A smaller company with few workers means management has time to individually check each timesheet for errors and have those one-on-one conversations. A multi-location enterprise, on the other hand, might not be able to address each timesheet and will need the software to be intelligent enough to investigate reports without human interaction.

It all comes down to what each business needs, and what questions they need to ask about software in their search.
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Questions to Ask

Looking for employee tracking apps can be daunting. There is an abundance of options, and the differences between them can be slight and hard to find. They also might not fit what your business is looking for. It’s important to take a moment pre-search to evaluate what your company needs and ask yourself essential questions to focus your search and determine its unique needs.

How much do I need to monitor my employees?

It’s a pressing ethical question that eliminates products from your shortlist depending on where you land on the subject. Employee time tracking is all about increasing productivity and organization, regardless of the depth of employee monitoring. But, at some level, all time tracking apps could be perceived as employee monitoring that hinders morale.

Employee monitoring can increase employee activity by at least 10% in some cases. Personal and unproductive time is reduced, and productive time can be more productive. Projects take less time and therefore cost less.

But it can also come at the expense of trust, which some studies say is one of the most pivotal keys to unlock strong employee productivity, in some cases to the tune of a 50% increase, with 40% less burnout. Even just having software with the abilities to take screenshots or log keystrokes can impede employee trust, whether or not they’re actually used.

It comes down to how much you trust your employees, if you care about high turnover rates and where you draw the line on employee privacy. It can be an uncomfortable question that needs to be asked when trying to determine what solution might be best for your organization.

What can I afford?

Online time tracking software can contribute to running up operations expenses, especially for larger companies. Most solutions come with either a base rate, a per-user rate or both. Many offer tiered pricing with enhanced functionality and expanded offerings such as cloud storage in higher price brackets. Naturally, the more premium and exclusive features you want, the higher the price you’ll pay.

There are absolutely passable free options for simple time logging, timesheets and project management. But more sophisticated features, particularly in activity logging, are mostly excluded from these packages.

Managers have to decide what features they want to prioritize, how much they are willing to spend and where to find the middle ground. It’s possible you’ll end up paying more than you want to or have to concede some functionality in your search.

How flexible does it need to be?

Some businesses only have two tiers of worker: laborer and supervisor. Others have executives, administrators, managers, assistants, general workers and more. The more complicated your business is, the more likely it will be that you need a versatile software that can handle different kinds of employees, projects and billing rates.

If your company is in contract work, projects will vary greatly, and your online time tracking software needs to have the ability to wrangle those differences. In complicated organizations versatility – and very likely automation to handle the workload – is essential in employee tracking apps.

Conversely, simple organizations might not need as complicated offerings.

What kind of project management do I need?

Some industries don’t require comprehensive project management. If your workers are clocking in and doing the exact same thing every day, you won’t need to know exactly what they’re working on.

However, if you’re in contract work with different teams scattered in different locations, you might need to have software that can solicit a wide variety of projects. You might need real-time displays of activities with specific tasks, or you might just need to know which workers are in which locations.

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Best Time Tracking Software

TSheets

TSheets is an industry leader in time and attendance offerings. It offers a comprehensive product suitable for small- to mid-sized businesses, regardless of field. A member of the Intuit suite offering, it is a component of the company’s HR offerings. It offers two levels of subscription, both offered on a per-user rate. It includes employee accountability features, such as facial recognition.

It allows users not only to track time, but prescribe time in terms of scheduling and shift assigning. It is cloud-based with mobile apps, GPS support and project management.

TSheets

The time entries page of the TSheets platform, showcasing its facial recognition capabilities.

TSheets was recognized as among the top online time tracking software solutions for these features:

Scheduling

A drag-and-drop interface allows managers to create and deploy employee schedules in the context of time tracking. Schedules can be duplicated in the cases of recurring and regular employee shifts. Notifications on shift changes are delivered to employees via mobile app, email or SMS.

Payroll

Labor costs are tracked. It distinguishes regular hours from overtime hours and allows for tracking and fulfillment of paid time off. Integrations with Intuit Quickbooks streamlines payroll export and completion.

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GPS Tracking

Location tracking can be used for workers that are both on and off the clock, in case someone is on call. Geofencing prevents time fraud, and location services can be used to determine which employees are closest to a work site.

Reporting

Reports can be generated based on payroll, projects and time tracking. Managers can investigate the efficiency of projects and tasks and the people who worked on them. Audit reports showcase who reviewed timesheets. Reports export in PDF, Excel or CSV formats.

Project Management

Budgeted hours can be compared to actual hours on projects and tasks. Projects have deadlines and progress monitoring. An activity feed shows team member notes and generates a timeline of that progress.

Price: $$$$$
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

Hubstaff

Hubstaff is a Saas-based tracking solution, suitable for companies of all sizes. It was developed specifically with remote work in mind, but is functional in an in-office environment, as well. With scaled pricing and a free version, it is tailored to the needs of a business. It is deployable on iOS and Android mobile apps, with desktop and browser versions.

It has advanced employee accountability features, like keystroke logging, screenshot taking and geofencing. Projects track with further breakdown into specific tasks, and employees can jump between projects at will.

HubStaff

A Hubstaff dashboard showing employee and project activity.

Hubstaff was recognized by SelectHub’s analysts for these features:

Time Tracking

Users clock in and clock out through the program, app or browser via specific projects. The time is logged into a timesheet that can be exported for payroll and benefits purposes. Time can be tracked offline, and is synced once a connection is reestablished.

Activity Tracking

Hubstaff tracks employee activity by monitoring keystrokes and mouse movements. It counts each second with an input as activity and displays activity as a percentage over 10-minute intervals. Managers can set cutoffs of inactivity to move users to idle time, giving management easy insight into inactive workers. It also logs programs and websites used and the duration of those visits.

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Screenshots

The system takes captures of the user’s screen to show exactly what they’re looking at and ensure productivity. Hubstafff can take These screenshots up to three times per 10-minute interval.

Project Tracking

Projects can be tracked individually, with specific subtasks. This allows management to determine what employees are spending their time on. Workers can leave notes on projects to mark progress and problems.

Integrations

More than 30 integrations expand functionality. Integration with Trello expands project tracking capabilities while working with Quickbooks allows for payroll automation.

Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

BigTime

BigTime is a cloud-based offering, synthesizing project, time and billing management. It helps businesses organize their labor in terms of needs, expenses, projects and budget. It focuses on the professional services industry, including fields like law firm, creative services, government contracting and architecture.

It is priced per-user, with three different plans that include varying features. It is usable by companies of any size. It is deployable via desktop or mobile apps.

BigTime

A BigTime expenses report.

BigTime makes this list for the following features:

Resource Allocation

BigTime allows administrators to identify and assign available staff to projects. It uses employee schedules and project information to budget employees, hours and other resources to specific projects and make adjustments as needed.

Workflows

Administrators can set up automated approval workflows. They can quickly approve or address issues within workflows or projects. Notifications can be delivered to reduce turn-around time.

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Custom Reporting

Built-in tools can be modified to display key performance indicators and other relevant company information. Reports have drill-down capabilities based on departments, projects, employees and other filters. Reports can also be generated from scratch.

Expense Tracking

All expenses can be tied to specific projects, both internal and client. It can be labeled based on reimbursement, billable and service fee status, among others. It can track things like mileage, equipment use and credit card charges.

Project Management

Managers can assign employees to projects and specific tasks within them. They can establish due dates, budget limits and custom statuses.

Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

Clockify

Clockify is a project management and employee time tracking software. It allows for timesheet creation and time tracking in a project or team setting, and generating reports. It can be white-labeled and offers additional customization features, including single sign-on.

It is suitable for businesses of any size in any industry and was developed on a basis of an affordable, unintrusive time tracking option. It has scaled pricing, including a free version.

Clockify

A Clockify project tracking module

Clockify stands out because of these features:

Affordability

Clockify’s free version stands out as it provides all essential features and integrations the system has to offer without limiting user count or accessibility. All paid versions include optional upgrades that streamline management that can definitely improve quality of use but can still be expendable.

Dashboards

Dashboards showcase real-time activity status and break down what team members are working on. Managers can drill down on specific projects, employees and teams to investigate efficiency.

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Customizability

From white-labeling to custom tag creation, Clockify assists with making the product a company’s own. For report creation purposes, custom fields and tags can be created to sort data as needed. It also allows for custom subdomains to unify workspaces.

Team Management

Teams can be defined and managed as a group. This includes billable rates. Team permissions can be set and modified and their access levels can be set.

Mobile Support

Mobile apps on iOS and Android allow for employee time tracking on the go. Offline time tracking allows the most remote of jobs to still be logged. The information is stored locally on the device and syncs with the cloud once a connection is reestablished.

Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

Toggl

The Estonia-based Toggl is a time, activity and project management platform. It blends project and tasking with labor requirements and billing. It allows thorough timekeeping, including rounding ability. Projects can be logged against estimated completion time, allowing easy discussion about efficiency and productivity. It also has auxiliary features to promote productivity and streamline time card logistics, such as a Pomodoro timer and time card calculator.

Toggl is a SaaS suitable for companies of any size. It has scaled pricing based on company size, with customizable rates for enterprise-sized businesses. It also offers mobile apps on iOS and Android.

Toggl

A Toggl dashboard.

Toggl was recognized by SelectHub’s analysts for these features:

Insights

The product offers Toggl Insights, a suite of tools to monitor profitability. It breaks down efficiency and productivity by worker or project and evaluates labor costs.

Timeline

The platform monitors employee productivity by logging all web pages and programs viewed for more than 10 seconds. This information is compiled into a chronological timeline for administrators to review.

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Project Dashboard

Dashboards compare project progress with estimated time. It forecasts completion dates and displays relevant information in charts, including billable hours, hours to date and projected hours remaining.

Tags

Custom tags can be created for specific filtering of data points and projects. Tags can be created and assigned from the timer page, allowing projects and tasks to be flagged in real time. Tags can be used to filter exported reports.

Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Conclusion

In this article, we introduced the concept of the employee tracking app and software. We described what to look for in a time tracker, what features are essential and what to look for.

We also outlined SelectHub’s top picks for online time tracking software. But our help doesn’t stop there. No matter where you are in your search for time and attendance software, we can provide assistance. Our requirements template can help you find that specific software that matches your exact needs, and our requirements checklist gives you a starting point to evaluate what is important to your business. But if you’re still in the exploratory stages, we’ve got you there, too. Our article What Is Time and Attendance? Introduces the concept of timekeeping in basic terms.

What did you think of our list? What employee time tracking software has your company used and why? What challenges were specific to your business? Let us know in the comments.

Richard AllenBest Employee Time Tracking Software: Top Solutions for 2021

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