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Employee time-tracking apps: 4 options for your startup

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When it comes to starting and growing a business, every minute counts. Time is just as valuable as your other guiding business metrics. At a minimum, you may want to track employee hours and let workers clock in and out. Modern employee time-tracking software, however, enables much more.

Many employee time-tracking apps allow business owners to better schedule employees, manage time off, and bill clients while monitoring productivity in real-time. Even better, they help teams spot inefficiencies, leading to more on-time, on-budget projects. 

Whether your team members are hourly, salaried, or contract workers, you need to track hours easily. App integrations save time on related tasks, like payroll and invoicing, so you can get back to activities that move the needle. 

In this guide, we’ll review four mobile time-tracking options for small businesses. 

Choosing your employee time-tracking app

Time-tracking apps are useful for a variety of industries and business models. Perhaps you need to optimize your team of developers or coordinate tasks across a remote workforce. You may run a consulting firm or hire freelancers for one-off marketing projects. 

The type of worker varies, too. Just 66% percent of U.S. employees who track their work time are paid hourly. The rest are business owners, salaried employees, or self-employed workers.

To find the right employee time-tracking app, you’ll want to evaluate your business needs. Do you need to automate employee scheduling? Would you like to determine how many non-technical workers to hire? Do you need to improve billable hour calculations? Does your human resources (HR) team need an all-in-one solution?

Online time-tracking tools range from simple time clock apps to full-fledged workforce management systems. Keep your goals in mind when you compare features. 

App features to prioritize

To save time and boost productivity, choose an employee time-tracking app that can handle more than clocking in and out. Here are features you might want to have:

  • Billable hours, time entry, and clock-in, clock-out features
  • Paid time off (PTO) tracking
  • Employee timesheets and approvals
  • Alerts when an employee hits overtime or misses work
  • User-friendly calendar for employee scheduling
  • Compatibility with smartphones, tablets, desktops, kiosks, etc. 
  • Easy adjustments to recorded timestamps
  • Reminders to start tracking time
  • GPS location tracking and geofencing
  • Facial recognition sign-in
  • Invoice generation and sharing features 
  • Real-time labor cost monitoring
  • Categorization by job, task, team, project, client, etc.
  • URL tracking and screenshots with customizable rules
  • Integrations with project, payroll, and help desk apps
  • Timesheet data history and analysis

Next, we’ll round up some of the most well-reviewed employee time-tracking apps for small businesses. 

4 top-ranking employee time-tracking apps

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Today, mobile apps can do a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to time management. This list showcases the different capabilities of each time-tracking software option.

1. TSheets 

TSheets by QuickBooks is a comprehensive time-tracking tool for businesses of all sizes. It helps you set up an online punch time clock for a tablet, desktop, or laptop, as well as employee PINs for sign-in. Or, you can enable the facial recognition feature to cut down on “buddy punching,” or employees clocking in for one another. With TSheets, your team can sign in, enter hours, and sign out in as little as 20 seconds. 

Another helpful capability is the GPS tracking feature, otherwise known as “geofencing.” It’s essentially a location-based time clock that lets you set up a radius around your office location or job sites. Once employees enter the zone, they’re allowed to clock in or out. This allows employees to enter time for their mobile devices and ensures each individual is honest.

TSheets doesn’t offer screen monitoring, so you may want to choose another app for robust productivity tools. But there is some customization, like fields that ask questions at clock-out. For instance, if an employee indicates they’re taking a break, you can add a prompt that asks, “Is this your lunch break?” This helps you get the time data you need to better manage the workplace. 

You can also use the handy “Who’s Working” window to check in or adjust schedules and project assignments. One TSheets survey showed that by using the software, users increased their billable time by an average of 11.46%.

2. Toggl

Toggl is a cloud-based time-tracker that’s particularly useful for teams of five or fewer. It’s also popular with businesses that use freelancers and remote workers and want to keep an eye on time usage. Its user-friendly interface and one-click timer make it a convenient solution. 

Toggl allows you to create projects, assign hourly rates and tasks, and build project timelines and budget estimates. With idle detection, Toggl can note when employees leave the computer. When they return, Toggl offers options on how to log the time. It also includes background activity tracking for Mac users.

Your team can also use manual time entries to set up hours at the end of the day or week. You can also integrate Toggl with popular development and project management tools like GitHub, Trello, Zapier, and Jir.

Once a project is complete, you can create an invoice and send it without leaving the app. You can also export time reports to Excel or share it with the client as a CSV or PDF. One unique feature is the built-in Pomodoro timer, which suggests break times. You can adjust it to structure your team’s working hours.

3. Tick

Tick, a cloud-based software, lets you automate your time-tracking system and create more profitable projects. With an emphasis on budget tracking, Tick is an effective tool for small and medium-sized teams—and each plan includes unlimited users. The company claims users can save an average of one hour every month by using its software.

Give each task within a project its own budget so you can build and assign projects faster. Each time card is color-coded to display project progress and budget stats while showing key metrics like time allotted, time billed, and time remaining on a project. However, you can only set project budgets for time, not money.

Project managers can easily assign each team member a unique time zone and billable rate. As they make progress, Tick will automatically update your project and task budgets as well as reports. To save time, you can also set up recurring projects that auto-reset each month. 

It’s worth noting that Tick is compatible with the Apple Watch in addition to desktops and iOS and Android devices. Additionally, you can also push hour and wage entries to your accounting software and reduce data entry. 

4. Hubstaff

The Hubstaff app can track time, capture GPS locations, and offer basic reporting. It lets you set pay rates and send payments automatically based on work hours for a given time period.

The app allows you to quickly approve your employees’ timesheets and create client-facing reports. Its lightweight dashboard and easy-to-use interface make shift scheduling fast as well. 

Hubstaff, however, focuses on productivity monitoring and time-tracking more than project or task management. For business owners who prioritize operational efficiency, Hubstaff is an effective addition. 

You can see which applications employees use and which URLs they visit the most during the workday. Hubstaff also offers keystroke logging, mouse usage tracking, and activity screenshots for even greater individual accountability. All of these features can be toggled on and off based on the project or team.

At any time, you can see your team members’ tasks and how active they are in those time periods. This data visualization also highlights which projects receive the most work and attention. 

Saving time on employee time-tracking

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Tracking time using convenient software gives you a clearer picture of how work happens at your business, especially during high-productivity stretches. 

With a time-tracking app, you can understand how project hours are used so you can more effectively track and manage each task. You can also create more accurate budgets and evaluate whether you’re using your full-time, part-time, and contract employees where they’re truly needed. 

Time management is more than just letting employees clock in and out, so make sure you have the technology you need to optimize time tracking and by extension, manage payroll, scheduling, and other tasks easily.

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