Tracking employee attendance is essential for ensuring that your employees are putting in the right amount of work hours, that they’re paid accurately, and that they accrue the correct amount of mandatory leave. But the right tools for attendance management will vary depending on how your employees are paid and where they work.

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of tracking employee attendance, and what type of attendance tracking software is the best fit for the job.

What Is Attendance Tracking?

In simple terms, attendance management is the process of making sure that employees show up to work when they’re supposed to and get paid for the hours they work. But the changing nature of work, including the rise of freelancing and remote work, means that it’s no longer enough to track when employees clock in and clock out.

A construction or delivery company may need an attendance system with GPS tracking, while a creative agency may need to keep track of billable hours for project-based work. Private companies with at least 50 employees also need to track attendance in order to comply with leave entitlements under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Before choosing an attendance tracker, develop an employee attendance policy so you have a clear idea of what information you need to keep track of.

Benefits of Tracking Employee Attendance

There are several advantages to tracking employee attendance that go beyond knowing how many hours an employee has worked. Here are four ways that attendance tracking can benefit your organization:

1. Address absenteeism

When you use an employee attendance tracker, you’ll be able to identify patterns such as lateness or absenteeism. You can put together a performance improvement plan or corrective action plan based on an individual employee’s attendance records.

2. Plan ahead

Attendance tracking allows you to plan ahead by reviewing employee work schedules and anticipating requests for paid time off (PTO). By tracking leave balances in your attendance tracking system, you won’t be caught off guard by upcoming employee absences, and you can allocate responsibilities to other team members.

3. Monitor overtime

The number of hours an employee works can have a major impact on payroll expenses, with federal law mandating overtime pay after 40 hours of work. By tracking attendance in real-time, you’ll know when an employee’s hours are about to cross that threshold, and you can decide whether or not to approve overtime work. 

4. Comply with labor laws

In some states, employees accrue sick leave or paid time off based on the number of hours they work. The length of their employment also determines whether or not an employee is eligible for parental leave or medical leave under FMLA.

Key Features to Look for in Attendance Tracking Software

Tracking employee attendance: employees working at an office

Attendance tracking tools allow you to view attendance data in one place and automate the attendance management process. But the key features you need will depend upon the size and nature of your business. Here are some of the most important features to look for in attendance tracking software:

1. Employee scheduling

Employee attendance tracking isn’t just about making note of what’s already happened. It’s also about being proactive by making note of employee availability, assigning shifts, and ensuring that the number of hours worked line up with the hours scheduled.

Your attendance tracking software should integrate with other parts of your workforce management system, such as your employee calendar. Managers should have the ability to correct mistakes and approve or overrule timesheets.

2. Payroll processing

Another important integration is with your payroll processing system. Instead of having to enter in time cards by hand, your attendance software can do it for you, eliminating this time-consuming step and reducing the risk of human error.

Your payroll processing system can use this attendance data to automatically calculate overtime, PTO, and other accounting requirements. Your payroll system should also be able to handle invoicing for contract workers or freelancers.

3. Absence management

Tracking an employee’s time away from work is just as important as tracking their time on the job. You can use absence management tools to distinguish between approved and unapproved absences, and account for them in your system accordingly.

When an employee asks for an extended leave of absence, document the request and obtain any supporting documents you need, such as a medical certification.

4. Reporting

Attendance reports can help you identify issues with individual employees, as well as understand how attendance affects your business as a whole. View the time logs for specific projects to compare attendance, billable hours, and overall profitability.

You can use these attendance tracking features to optimize workflows, improve your project management system, oversee remote workers, and more.

5. Mobile access

The best time-tracking tools work on iOS and Android devices and allow you to track time from anywhere. These tools aren’t just for mobile devices, but typically take the form of cloud-based software that’s also available as a mobile app.

Variations include GPS tracking apps that verify an employee’s location, and attendance apps that use biometrics, such as facial recognition, to ensure that the correct employee is punching the digital time clock.

3 Ways to Track Employee Attendance

Now that we’ve looked at the benefits and features of time-tracking apps, let’s look at three ways to track attendance, from the simplest method to the most advanced:


The first way to track attendance is to simply do it by hand. This is still how many small businesses track employee attendance, and it may be sufficient when there’s only one job site and a small workforce. Businesses can either use a physical kiosk or a digital attendance sheet such as an Excel spreadsheet.

Of course, this system has its drawbacks, such as the risk of human error when tallying timesheets by hand, and the increased opportunity for a “buddy punch,” which is when one employee clocks in for another.

Time-tracking software

Dedicated time-tracking apps are a step up from time cards because they allow you to benefit from many of the useful features described above. You can generate reports, get notifications when an employee clocks in late, and integrate your time-tracking software with your employee calendar and payroll system.

That said, some attendance tracking tools are designed for specific use cases, and may not have the flexibility you need for every aspect of attendance management.

HR automation platforms

Advanced HR platforms such as a human resource management system (HRMS) offer more features, because they typically include multiple modules in one. You can use an HR management platform for scheduling, time-tracking, payroll, and reporting.

HR automation platforms allow you to digitize key aspects of your business, reducing the amount of paperwork and overhead that goes into attendance tracking. You can automate the onboarding process, streamline leave of absence approvals, create corrective action plans to address absenteeism, and more.

Streamline Attendance Tracking with HR Automation

Entrepreneur working in her office

Attendance tracking software helps ensure that your employees are logging their hours accurately and getting properly paid for the time they work. But tracking attendance can be especially complicated if you have a large workforce or a lot of remote workers. By automating key parts of the process, and allowing employees to clock in and out on their mobile devices, you can save time and reduce the risk of time theft.

Pulpstream makes it easy to handle multiple HR tasks all in one place. From attendance tracking to leave of absence management, our cloud-based software ensures that all of your HR systems are working in sync. Simply use our drag-and-drop interface to build your own HR workflows and integrate Pulpstream with existing software tools.

Contact us today to request a free demo!