Here’s Why the Way You’re Tracking Employee Hours Doesn’t Work

track employee hours

Looking for ways to track employee hours?

Every employer has to track employee hours at work to find out if team members are productive. 

However, the problem is, many people don’t track time the right way. 

In this article, we’ll tell you five methods you shouldn’t use to track employee hours and why you shouldn’t use them. We’ll cover why you should use an automatic time tracker instead. We’ll also show you the best productivity management tool you can use to track employee time. 

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Five Methods You Shouldn’t Use to Track Employee Hours

Here’s a look at five ways you shouldn’t be tracking employee time:

1. Using a Pen and Paper

While many businesses have moved on from manual methods, some companies still prefer to use the pen and paper method for employee hour tracking. 

But here’s what you might not know — this method prevents you from efficiently tracking employee hours. 


Besides being manually tedious, going the pen-and-paper route means you’ll only be able to record the time employees clock in and clock out. 

To record what each employee works on throughout the day would require them to break their workflow. If not, you’ll have to spend on recruiting another team member just to track employee activity.  

But that’s not all. 

Since team members have unsupervised access to their employee timesheet, they can easily edit it to look like they’ve worked more than they have. 

So using a pen and paper for employee hour tracking not only limits your functionality, but you can also end up with inaccurate or dishonest records of employee work time. 

2. Manually Maintaining an Excel Spreadsheet

Since using a pen and paper has many problems when tracking employee activity, maintaining a shared spreadsheet timesheet template should solve all those issues, right?

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. 

Sure, an Excel spreadsheet makes things more convenient than writing down all tasks manually. However, employees will still have free access to edit time entries when they want to. 

But the most prominent issue? 


The accuracy of employees who update a spreadsheet several times a day is 64%. It’s even less accurate than employees who update their employee timesheet just once a day! 

If you usually work 100 billable hours a month per client at a rate of $100 per hour, you could lose out on $40,800 every year due to inaccurate data entries!

Check out more cons of using Excel timesheets to track employee hours.

3. Timecards and Biometric Scanners

Timecards have been around for decades, and they help with employee attendance tracking. 

However, employees can easily get someone to fake attendance on a timecard using a technique like buddy punching

Biometric scanners, like fingerprint scanning machines, were designed to solve this issue — since fingerprints are unique, employees can’t fake them.

So what’s the problem?

While these methods can maintain employee attendance records and keep track of clocking in/out times, they can’t track the work employees do. You won’t know whether an employee worked on productive tasks or if they just wasted their whole day.

And if you’re a business owner running a remote work team, timecards and biometric scanners provide zero value for employee hour tracking. You’re better off with a mobile time tracking system. 

So whether you use timecards with attendance software or a biometric scanner, you need a dedicated online time tracking software if you want to track employee time.

Want to know more about managing remote employees

Check out our foolproof time and attendance policy for remote teams.

4. Timesheet (Timeclock) Software

Timesheet software with a built-in timeclock can make things a little more convenient if you’re upgrading from a manual method.

Most online timesheet software has a timer you can run while working on tasks. 

Once you stop the timer on the tracking app, you can label that data with the task you just worked on, and it gets added to your timesheet. 

But the problem with most employee timesheet software?

They’re basic. Your time clock app will only show the time an employee spent on a task. 

Your timesheet app won’t show you:

  • How productive your employees were.
  • Which sites and apps they used during working hours.
  • When they started and stopped working.
  • And other information that can improve the productivity of your employees.

Instead, you need a comprehensive app that tracks employee working hours and helps improve their productivity in the long run.   

5. Employee Surveillance Systems

By now, it’s clear all the methods we’ve mentioned earlier aren’t comprehensive enough to monitor employee work hours and improve productivity. 

So maybe an employee surveillance app can do the job, right?

Not really. 

If you’re a business owner using an employee surveillance system like CCTV cameras or invasive software, you’re essentially telling your employees you don’t trust them. You’re also implying that it’s acceptable to violate their privacy using a tracking app.

So instead of focusing on their tasks, they’ll be more worried about you monitoring every task through the employee monitoring software. 

Besides lowering morale, this can lead to more unproductive team members — which defeats the purpose of using an employee monitoring app in the first place.  

If you want to build your business on values like honesty and trust, you should never use employee surveillance software to track employee activity.

types of employee monitoring

Why You Should Always Choose Automatic Time Tracking

Now that we’ve looked at what you shouldn’t do when tracking employee hours, let’s see why automatic time tracking is the best way to keep track of your employees’ working hours:

1. Accuracy

An inaccurate employee time tracking system can cause several problems like underpaying employees and overbilling clients.


Your time tracking system stores data about each team member — whether they’re an hourly employee or a salaried employee. Wrong time tracking data can affect your labor cost and even the billable hours of your clients.

Inaccurate payroll and invoicing data can even put you in serious legal trouble. 

For example, if you fail to pay the correct overtime pay as defined in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees can take legal action against you. 

So it’s essential to ensure your time tracking system is error-free

Automatic time trackers are the best solution to track employee activity since they aren’t affected by human factors like other manual methods. 

For example, an employee can forget to update a manual spreadsheet or enter the wrong timing. But with an automatic time tracker, you only need to start and stop the timer and label the time spent on work. The time tracking system takes care of everything else — and it’s accurate down to the second. 

2. Ease of Use

A time tracking tool is something that your team members will use at work every day. 

While manual methods require a lot of input and cross-checking for accuracy, an automatic time tracker will handle all the hard work for you. 

As a business owner, you also need an app that covers your business needs and makes things easier for your team members. 

An automatic time tracker can help you here — it provides employees with an app they can use easily while giving you access to auto-generated reports you can use to measure employee productivity. 

3. Integrations

People use tons of productivity software at work, and your time tracker is just one of them. 

However, you need to track employee time across all of your tools, right?

An automatic time tracking tool is the only way you’ll be able to integrate your tracker app with other productivity tools. These integrations can help you significantly boost employee productivity at work.

Suppose you use an automatic time tracking tool at work. 

In that case, you can expect it to integrate with a wide range of productivity tools like project management apps, payroll, and invoicing software like QuickBooks, CRMs, and helpdesk software.  

You can’t expect this level of functionality from a manual spreadsheet, right?

4. Data Security and Privacy

Time tracking tools record a large amount of sensitive information. 

The software you use to track employee hours will record:

  • How employee hours are spent during the workday.
  • Employee scheduling data.
  • The projects you handle on behalf of clients.
  • Other productivity data. 

Whichever method you use, you need to be aware of protecting your employee privacy rights. It’s essential to treat all employee data as private and confidential to avoid privacy issues.  

An automatic time tracker app that’s trusted by businesses worldwide can help you protect all information collected by the software. They’re most likely to use state-of-the-art technologies to protect user data, which provides additional security to all information collected by the app.

The Best Time Tracking Software For 2021

So the best solution to track employee hours is a user-friendly, automatic time tracking tool that provides tons of integrations and protects your data.

But where do you find such a time tracking app?

Fortunately, Time Doctor is one such tool that could be just the perfect tracking solution for you.

What is Time Doctor?

time doctor

Time Doctor is a robust time tracking and productivity management software. It’s used by large corporations like Verizon, as well as SMBs like Thrive Market, to keep employees motivated and productive throughout their work hours. 

With Time Doctor, you can:

  • Track how long employees spend on tasks.
  • Prevent staff members from idling during work.
  • Generate real-time productivity reports. 
  • Export timesheets to a payroll system.

Time Doctor also has a mobile app that helps manage employee productivity through your Android mobile device.

Here are some of Time Doctor’s best features:

1. Simple Time Tracking

Time Doctor features simple time tracking so your employees can use it without a hassle. 

If your organization uses Time Doctor’s manual/interactive mode, all they have to do is open the app, type in the task they’re working on, and start the timer. 

Time Doctor will run in the background and track what the employee is doing. Once they finish the task, just one click will stop the timer!

Easy and accurate time tracking

Note: Time Doctor also has an automatic time tracking mode, which tracks time automatically when the computer is on. 

2. Prevent Employees From Idling At Work

Time Doctor tracks the idle time of employees throughout their workday. 

You can choose a time limit to start counting idle time for each employee. 

Idle time is measured in idle seconds and idle minutes. 

What’s that?

An idle second is one second without keyboard and mouse activity. An idle minute is one full minute without keyboard and mouse activity.

With Time Doctor’s idle time measures, you can easily find out which employees perform at their best and which employees need help improving their efficiency. 

Note: Time Doctor is not a keylogger. It only tracks if any keys were pressed; it doesn’t record any keystrokes or mouse clicks. 

Want to stop employees from wasting time at work

Check out our guide on how to avoid common time-wasters at work. 

3. Access Real-Time Reports

Time Doctor tracks several data related to your employees’ activity during work. 

But how can you use all of this data to see if your employees are productive?

It’s simple. 

Time Doctor gives you access to a wide range of reports generated in real-time. 

timesheet report - time doctor

These reports will show you information regarding:

  • What tasks your employees worked on. 
  • The number of hours tracked. 
  • How much time employees have spent on tasks and breaks.
  • The websites and apps they used during work hours and more.

You can quickly identify high performers with these reports and decide how you can help struggling employees

4. Powerful Integrations

Time Doctor has an extensive library of third-party integrations that allow the app to work smoothly across other productive apps. 

time doctor integrations

For example, Time Doctor integrates easily with tools like Asana and Jira. 

You can even add time tracking to tasks you’ve created on tools like ClickUp — this helps your team reduce the time spent switching between apps to track time.

Time Doctor Pricing

Time Doctor has three pricing plans, and you can quickly sign up for a free trial without a credit card: 

  • Basic: $8/user per month – offers time tracking + task management + activity tracking + unlimited screenshots.
  • Standard: $12/user per month – includes “Basic” features + integrations + payroll and invoicing.
  • Premium: $24/user per month  – includes “Standard” features  + concierge account setup + client login access.

Wrapping Up

There are many methods you should avoid when you track employee hours. 

Using manual techniques may not provide accurate information, while invasive methods like employee surveillance software could violate your employees’ privacy.

Instead, consider using a user-friendly and accurate automatic time tracker that protects employee privacy and data. 

Time Doctor is a great tool to use, but it isn’t just a time tracker. It also helps you manage your team’s productivity levels and help them improve over time — leading to a highly efficient workforce. 

So why not give Time Doctor a try and boost the productivity of your whole company?

Try Time Doctor

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