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Keeping Accurate Track of Employee Time is More Important Than Ever

March 11, 2022

By Sonya Ahola, originally featured in our FOCUS magazine

As every business owner knows, tracking an employee’s time is essential. And the Department of Labor exempt rules are making it more important than ever.

To recap, exempt rules state the earnings thresholds necessary to exempt executive, administrative and professional employees from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime pay requirements, and allows employers to count a portion of certain bonuses/commissions towards meeting the salary level.

The “standard salary level” is $684 per week (equivalent to $35,568 per year for a full-year worker).

The total annual compensation requirement for “highly compensated employees” is $107,432 per year.

Employers are allowed to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) paid at least annually to satisfy up to 10 percent of the standard salary level, in recognition of evolving pay practices.

How can you keep track of employee hours without going crazy?

There are so many things to consider and more regulations every day. And now with the new overtime rules, more personnel who never had to track hours are going to be good and hopping mad that they have to keep track of their time.

You could try emailed time sheets, but people often forget to fill these out, and then you find yourself spending a ton of time nagging people.

Should you consider an employee badge swipe using RFID (radio frequency identification) technology or a bar code system? There are also helpful online time clocks via web apps that maintain time records online and generate payroll reports.

Experts suggest incorporating best practices to simplify the learning process. Once that’s done, you can adapt your training to specific staff members. Here are some tips:

  • If you consolidate systems into an all-in-one management system or onto just one or two platforms with excellent integration, it can mean fewer tools for employees to learn and smooth data flow in a single system, which equates to no manual data transfer.
  • Have a training plan—technology has become one of the more overlooked aspects of employee training. By being organized and proactive, you can drastically cut down on the time you and your staff spend on training. Decide who has to be trained in the first place and what can be done in-house.
  • Consider webinars or prewritten tutorials. Ask for employee feedback before training begins. By incorporating your employees’ needs, you’ll avoid having to answer lots of questions later and any possibilities of retraining.
  • Ask employees how they like to learn. Are they visual learners or written-word-oriented? This will ensure that your training is delivered in the most effective method.
  • Document training to ensure everyone can refer to it from beginning to end.
  • Show your team how to perform tasks using actual data. Your staff is more likely to remember how to use the system if they use it consistently.
  • Have employees do the work while you guide them. This makes training more interactive and engaging and caters to staff learning by doing instead of just by hearing and seeing.

Effortless time tracking, even of jobs performed in fragments—is that too much to ask? How about apps that work on your iPhone or Android device?

The problem is that the too-simple apps don’t track as powerfully as project management software. And sometimes there’s no verifying that the employee using it actually is working.

Here are some provisos for you to consider:

  • Make sure what you use is collaborative and not so easy that you can delete time accidentally without accurately reporting it.
  • Look for apps that say they’re intuitive at time-tracking and can highlight how much work is left on a project so your firm can regroup while still staying on budget.
  • Watch out for what appears to be simple, but really isn’t—if it takes lots of effort, all your training might be for nothing. Even you may have trouble figuring out how to use some of the features that were the reason you bought the system in the first place.

The bottom line? There are a lot of choices out there. You have to consider your particular needs and what works best for your staff and your company.

Sonya Ahola leads Ahola’s Marketing and HR Consulting Divisions and is responsible for communications, brand strategy, and the ProActive HR Consulting Division.

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