Softworks Blog

To Clock or not to Clock!

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Wed, Jun 6, 2012

By Oliver Mitchell, ACA

Tick tock, tick tock…..every second of the working day companies spend money on their employees. Some track the time spent on various tasks each day down to minute detail, endlessly reviewing and analysing this data to come up with more efficient ways of doing things. This often results in complex rostering permutations, where the management of each task is down to a fine art. Other companies, simply record the ‘in’ and ‘out’ time of their employees to ensure that everyone works their required hours, and are happy once the job gets done. Finally, there are companies that still just depend on old fashioned trust, relying on their employee’s to turn up on time and do their job…but what works best?

Cost of employee time resized 600

Financial Considerations

The answer to this question can be looked at in many different ways. Firstly, financially, in simple money terms, companies obviously want to ensure that they get the most ‘bang for their buck’ in terms of their employee outlay. To do that, they need to tightly manage and monitor their staff’s day to day usage of time. The level of oversight varies from company to company, but in general every 15 minutes will be accounted for. This results in 30 different tasks being recorded every day (based on a 7 ½ hour day) for every employee. In a SME type company of 50 employees, that’s 1,500 tasks a day or 7,500 a week! The result of capturing every task in 15 minute intervals provides managers with vast amounts of data, but at the end of the day it’s the use of that data that’s key to the efficient management of the company.

Clocking and Productivity 

The second way to look at the question of which approach is best is productivity. It would stand to reason, that by requiring employee’s to record their time in detail would result in less time wastage as employee’s are accountable for every minute of their day, compared to an employee that does not need to clock at all. However, it may not be that simple! It’s very hard to determine which approach is more productive, for example, a task that requires 10 minutes to complete will be done in 10 minutes by the employee that does not clock, and yet on the other hand, the one who does clock, might take 10-15 minutes to complete the task as that’s how their time slots are allocated and without wanting to start on another task within that time slot, they simply complete it within their 15 minute slot. So whilst on the face of it, the employee that records their time would be assumed to be more productive, it may not always be the case.

Employee Satisfaction 

Another element to the question is the employee’s happiness. By monitoring and managing their time, are you restricting the employee’s ‘creative freedom’? Their innate human ability to think outside the box and do things differently, that can often result in a better process or better results in the long term.

Company Culture

The question of “to clock or not to clock”, is best answered by determining the type of company, the objective of the role and the employee type. Some employees excel in a very structured environment - day to day routine of tasks, with set times to complete and achieve objectives. Other employees will struggle to complete tasks and achieve objectives, if they are tied to time slots particularly in roles which require a high level of creativity. Either approach generally results in the required tasks being completed at the end of the day.


All of the points above carry their own merits, but if you look at the question from a managers/owners point of view, there is one very simple answer. “To Clock” is the only way to get the data in the first place and once you have the data you are in a position to improve processes and efficiency in your company. Employee time is one of your company's most valuable and costly resources. Knowledge of this time results in faster decision making, improved rostering and better labour cost management, making your company more productive and competitive. Clocking allows you to build a clear picture of employee time through detailed data and reports on attendance, absenteeism, overtime, flexi-balances, rostering and holiday leave. Introducing an attendance management solution to your organisation does not have to involve a cultural shift in your working environment. What and how you clock can be determined by job role, employee type, company objectives and culture as “one clock” does not necessarily fit all. Whatever your working environment, there is a clocking option to suit your company and considering a clocking solution, is in my opinion time well spent – tick tock, tick tock….

Topics: Time & Attendance, Labour Scheduling