//13-03-2023 Time and Attendance pulse survey- what this means for your business.

by Julie Lock, Commercial Director

There’s no getting away from the fact that regardless of which industry you operate in, your organization exists in a time of change. Today’s businesses find themselves contending with the ongoing hybrid working conundrum as well as the ever-present challenge of increasing business costs, coupled with the ever-shifting priorities of today’s workforce.

At Advanced, we’re always keen to keep our ear on the ground and remain agile to the challenges posed by these changes. That’s why we decided to team up with to bring you this latest pulse survey, focusing on the challenges posed by today’s organizations when it comes to their time and attendance processes.

The survey saw the team gathering 288 responses from HR professionals across the length and breadth of the industrial landscape of the US. The goal of the survey is to provide you with a snapshot of time and attendance systems and processes currently being utilized by today’s organizations and the challenges these may present.

If you’d like to discover more, the infographic is available for you to download. In the meantime, we thought we’d give you a preview of some of the top insights.


Most organizations track time and attendance and PTO

One thing which is made abundantly clear from the survey is that the overwhelming majority of today’s organizations currently have a process in place for tracking time and attendance, with 95% of those surveyed responding in the affirmative.

What we discovered from the survey is that the vast majority of organizations that do track time and attendance are those that employ a contingent workforce such as part-time or seasonal workers or freelancers and independent contractors. It’s clear that their time and attendance processes are a way for these businesses to bridge the gap between their permanent and auxiliary workforce and ensure accuracy in tracking the output of contingency workers and making sure they are paid accurately and on time.

Whilst currently contingent workforces represent a relative fraction of the overall headcount of organizations, Research by Mckinsey has found that this number is set to skyrocket by 36% over the next few years. HR experts have cited rising business costs and the constraints these have put on the learning and development budgets of many organizations, as well as general hiring, freezes. This means that many businesses are contending with a depleted or under-skilled workforce with a reliance on contingency workers to plug key knowledge gaps.

This means that over the next 24 months, the time and attendance processes of many businesses are likely to undergo a greater degree of scrutiny, with an increased demand for independent contractors and temp staff placing additional strain on people teams.


There’s always room for improvement

Another common theme to be found throughout the survey was the need for organizations to refine and improve their time and attendance processes. Despite many having processes in place, only 38% of those we surveyed rated their time-tracking methods at an 8,9, or 10, with 10 being the highest rating.

Astonishingly 34% of respondees claimed they are spending over ten minutes a week collating and calculating work-hours data for each employee. Admittedly 10 minutes doesn’t sound like much on paper but when you weigh up this loss of time alongside the overall rising cost of doing business, this represents an unacceptable level of inefficiency. This is a time sink that spirals almost infinitely for larger organizations- 10 minutes per employee in a workforce of hundreds can mean entire working days are being lost on needless admin.

This suggests that although most businesses have a time and attendance process in place, not all solutions are created equally, particularly when it comes to automation and many businesses are finding themselves still contending with needless levels of data admin.


Organizations may want to look into alternative tracking methods

A factor to bear in mind is that although organizations may have a time and attendance solution in place, their particular systems may have fallen by the wayside in terms of the demands in complexity required by today’s needs. This is particularly true of solutions that may have been in place pre-2020, where there was less of a focus on hybrid or remote working models. In light of emerging challenges, a key takeaway for organizations should be to take stock of their existing processes and to understand if making a change may be a necessary step to ensure accuracy in their time tracking.

Our pulse survey found that only 47% of organizations are using a web-based time and attendance tracking solution. This means that although a vast majority of businesses are tracking employee hours worked, many are still relying on outdated or inefficient processes such as manual tracking on spreadsheets.

Despite the huge advancement in technology in recent years, newer innovations such as biometric scanners, GPS tracking, and proximity clocking terminals are still widely underutilized. A major explanation for this may be the cost factor- in light of business costs rising and overall freezes on hiring, development, and general investment, new technology may seem like a frivolous cost. For businesses operating in challenging times, the adage “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” holds true, even if it means blinding themselves to the inefficiencies presented by their manual processes.


Errors in tracking time and attendance could lead to loss of employee trust or worse

Time and attendance have always had to deal with a bit of an unfair reputation at times. Misused or under the aegis of overbearing management, it’s all too easy to see employee time tracking as a draconian measure, indicative of an erosion of trust between management and their people.

Interestingly enough, this holds just as true for slipshod or error-prone time-tracking processes. Our pulse survey found that an astonishing 57% of respondees said they were still making 1 to 2 payroll mistakes per 100 employees. 

Payroll serves as the cornerstone of your employee rewards framework and errors in pay can severely impact the wellbeing of your people and potentially cause irreparable harm to how employees view their workplace. Recent research has found that 49% of US workers would seek opportunities elsewhere after just two payroll errors, suggesting an inherent fragility within the employee/employer relationship.

With wider living costs also on the rise, it’s also fair to assume that employee tolerance for errors impacting their paycheck will become even more truncated. Robust and accurate time and attendance processes will be a necessity in helping clamp down on incidences of payroll error- after all, your payroll is only as accurate as the information you feed into it.

A further consideration is the legal and financial penalties that could be potentially accrued through payroll non-compliance. The IRS collected nearly $7 billion in payroll penalties in 2021 alone and in the context of rising business costs, organizations can ill afford to start stacking up penalties. Furthermore, businesses that make a name for themselves as error-prone in paying their staff don’t exactly position themselves as the most attractive prospects when it comes to hiring potential new talent.


How do the leaders in time tracking do things differently?

So how exactly do the time and attendance top performers do things differently from those who may be lagging behind in their processes? Our survey found that those who would rate their processes as an 8 or above are 2x likely to make no payroll mistakes between 100 employees. Furthermore, those same time-tracking leaders are 2x less likely to spend more than 10 minutes a week collating each employee’s work-hours data.

What this represents is a vast gulf between those who are getting it right and people teams who are still actively being hampered by their time and attendance processes. In many ways, having an outdated or largely manual-based system in place for tracking work hours can be worse than having no process in place whatsoever- lulling you into a false sense of complacency and encouraging a bare minimum mindset where time tracking is viewed as little more than an admin inconvenience.

What distinguishes these top performers from the laggards? Certainly the level of investment that they are willing to put into their time and attendance processes. A key factor separating this top level of time and attendance pros is the understanding that tracking hours worked has a wider connection to the rest of the organization. As we’ve touched on before, diligence in your time and attendance processes not only guarantees a healthier, more accurate pay cycle but also helps you build a more defined picture of your workforce and their output. This information is absolutely vital, especially when it comes to crisis period planning as it arms you with the knowledge you need to understand where best to allocate resources.


What to look for in your time and attendance strategies

As with any aspect of your business, your time and attendance processes will always benefit from a regular health check. Any ongoing strategy worth its salt undergoes a period of reaffirmations and balances and understanding where the relative strengths and weaknesses of your current time-tracking processes lie, it helps you focus your efforts on making meaningful changes.

This is especially important once you decide to take that step and look for a new solution and supplier. The time and attendance market is a hugely competitive one with a range of different systems and providers. Without a strong, baseline understanding of your requirements, it’s all too easy to be taken in by flashy functionality and invest in a solution that doesn’t meet your core needs.

So what steps should you consider when evaluating your time and attendance strategies?

  • Review employee satisfaction with time tracking methods- Are your people happy with your current processes? Is your system easy to use? Does it offer a degree of self-service functionality to help employees take an active approach to booking PTO? More importantly, does it actively help in bridging the gaps between your office and remote-based workers, giving your people the ability to clock in, regardless of where they work from?
  • Make sure employees stay up to date with time tracking laws- Ensure both your people teams and wider workforce are aware of their responsibilities when it comes to time tracking as well as the pitfalls of potential non-compliance with legislation. In order to transform time and attendance into a more fundamental aspect of your business, it will help to frame it as such and have the broader perception of it move away from being viewed as just an admin task.
  • Automate where possible to avoid human error- With the consequences of non-compliance with time tracking legislation representing a fundamental threat to organizations, reliance on manual processes is just courting disaster- opening you up to needless amounts of human error in your time tracking. When assessing your systems, you should be looking to introduce automation across all levels of the process. Not only does this offer you the accuracy you require but it also significantly reduces the demands on your people team to make manual inputs and checks and balances.
  • Research alternative tracking methods- Although you may have a solution in place for tracking hours worked currently, have you really considered if it’s the most effective method for your organization? As our survey has shown, technology such as biometric readers and proximity scanners are still widely underused across many industries and maybe the next level of investment required to get you the accuracy in your time and attendance processes you deserve.


What’s next?

We hope you’ve found this roundup of our survey helpful guide to some of the key considerations you should keep in mind when considering whether it may be time to look for a new time-tracking solution.

We believe time and attendance represents a vital part of your day-to-day operational effectiveness. Accuracy in tracking hours worked, being able to build a clear picture of the output of your people and most importantly- ensuring they are paid accurately for their work, are fundamentals, all businesses deserve to have in place.

If any of the trends and pain points highlighted in the survey feel familiar and if you think you are one of many organizations who are languishing unnecessarily with outdated or unsuitable solutions, if you find yourself battling increasing headaches with inaccurate data, security lapses, accessibility roadblocks, or if you simply just want to do better- maybe it’s time for a change?

Our Advanced Time and Attendance solution offers organizations the unmatched ability to gain operational control and support for the day-to-day management of their workforce. Our analytics suite means the information you need to take control of your business is always at your fingertips and our market-leading self-service functionality means that your employees can take ownership of their schedules, freeing your HR teams from the burden of admin-heavy tasks.

Alternatively, if you’d like to speak to someone about the challenges you’re facing, get in touch with one of our friendly time and attendance solution experts.

North America United States Canada HR & Payroll People Management Software
Julie Lock

Julie Lock


Commercial Director

With over 25 years, Julie’s expertise has seen her working with some of the largest global software suppliers in the HR and Payroll industry leading innovation research and development and sales to help support employee development, engagement and business growth. Julie analyses technology, the economy, the human revolution and the future of work, and the impact this will have on employers. She also regularly speaks at business conferences and continues to be featured in thought leadership articles in various media.

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