When people told you time and time again how much hard work goes into running a small business, did you believe them? Because, aside from the physical work you sparkies, chippies, and dunny divers do on a daily, we know there's so much administration that goes on behind the scenes.
It can be challenging to adjust to running the administration side of a business if you've spent your life on the tools. One aspect of small business that you may have been unprepared for is determining how to track employees' hours, work productivity, and location, particularly if you've promoted yourself to a desk.
Tracking employees' hours can easily turn into a full-time job. It's messy, it's time-consuming, and it can be woefully inaccurate without the right tools. But even those aspects of employee tracking are a cakewalk compared to the more unsavoury part of time tracking: addressing employee time theft.
But guess what? There is a solution - employee tracking apps! With attendance tracking software, everything is done automatically for you, leaving no room for error or doubt.
Is It Legal To Track Your Employees?
Covid has shifted the way we all run our businesses. A new hybrid working model might mean your staff no longer start their day from the office - you might not even see them every day. This can be a liberating work model for your employees, but it can hurt your business if you don't have a time or job tracking system in place.
Employee tracking apps are great - they allow businesses to function in an entirely remote capacity because they let you see where your staff are at all times. But they can also raise questions of legality. Is it legal to track your employees? If so, how much are you allowed to track?
Laws regarding monitoring and surveillance of the workforce in Australia
Unfortunately for business owners and employees alike, the Australian Government has not outlined a consistent set of laws to regulate how and when you can monitor your staff, both in the workplace and when they work on site.
However, there are some laws that you can use as helpful guidelines. For example, the Telecommunication (Interception) Act 1979 forbids any person from intercepting a communication that passes over a telecommunications system.
Another one to bear in mind is the Privacy Act 1988, which you may also find has some application to monitoring staff. It states that the information collected, used, or disclosed from telecommunication is personal to the involved parties - in this instance, we can safely apply the term "telecommunication" to all communication devices, including mobile phones, landline phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers.
So, on a Commonwealth level (though stated a little ambiguously), we can gather that monitoring your staff by reading their emails and text messages or recording their phone calls, even if they are using a company device, is likely against the law. However, laws regarding monitoring their location to determine that they are where they are supposed to be, as well as other forms of surveillance, are regulated by the industrial laws laid out by each state and territory.
State and territory surveillance laws
While each state and territory have their own workplace surveillance laws, most can be summed up as follows:
As a business owner or manager, it is legal to monitor and track your employees' work-related tasks while they are at work or throughout their working hours. This applies whether your employees' work is conducted in the office, at home, or on-site. But even when you operate your trade business remotely, that does not mean you have an unrestricted right to monitor and track your employees' every move through these hours and, in particular, any communication they may have during work hours.
However, there are perfectly justifiable reasons to conduct employee tracking, such as to:
- protect your assets
- monitor employee safety
- detect theft or fraud
- keep on top of quality control
- monitor employee behaviour, including tracking time spent on jobs and between jobs.
As an employer, it's your job to make sure you balance your right to track your staff against their right to privacy.
Using technology to track your employees
Tradies have been using employee tracking apps for years. Now, in response to the pandemic, there is an increase in the number of tradie businesses that operate purely in a remote capacity, eliminating daily catchups and the opportunity to physically submit timesheets and paperwork at the end of the day.
Businesses need technology now more than ever to keep a check on employees. But implementing employee tracking apps means that employers now have more capability of reaching into their team member's homes and personal lives, which is something you need to be aware of as a responsible employer.
Always check the industry awards and agreements before implementing any employee tracking. Furthermore, if you need to take any adverse action against your employees, be sure you have a right to the information you have collected through this surveillance or tracking.
How To Track Employees' Hours
There are plenty of avenues to take when finding the right employee tracking system for your business. Let's look at a few methods of keeping track of employees.
Time tracking software
Time tracking software eases the hurdle of logging employee hours as your employees can remotely input their clock-in and clock-out times. This information is then available digitally, helping you ensure that your staff are compensated fairly. No messy handwriting, no ambiguous time cards - just simple, time-stamped data.
Time tracking through employee tracking apps also enables you to run time tracking reports, allowing you to see where improvements could be made to your rostering or staffing.
GPS Tracking Software
Your employees work off-site, so a GPS tracking approach may be the right option for your trade business. GPS time tracking makes clocking in and out simple for your employees, as they can log their time from whatever device they use while on the road. GPS employee tracking is also easy for you; you can maintain the time sheets and keep on top of jobs through the app from wherever you work.
We've built AroFlo's GPS tracking solutions to help you to keep up with your staff and assets at a glance. Whether you're concerned about tracking movement, geofencing or after-hours use, you can keep in touch with your business processes in real time. If you're keen to try GPS tracking, we can show you how it works - with absolutely no obligation to move forward. Just book a demo here.
Manual employee time tracking
Businesses have been manually tracking employees' time since the dawn of time, so it's well chartered territory. This method involves having your employees manually write their times down on a piece of paper and submit their timesheets on a daily, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly basis.
While there's no denying that manual time tracking has its place - such as for small startup businesses with few employees - it's also true to say that this method can lead to a variety of issues, such as:
- accounting errors
- payroll issues
- time theft
- labour law violations.
Manual time tracking is a great place to start. But it's also worth aiming to upgrade to a digital employee tracking solution in the future. An app to track employees' hours will save you the headache of deciphering handwritten timesheets, and your team will be relieved of the hassle of trying to keep track of their timesheet paper on the go.
Benefits of Tracking Your Workforce
In any trade, the only way your business will run effectively is if both the labour and money you put into it produce the right level of output. And the only way you will know if you are using your resources correctly is to ensure your employees are working productively.
Those variables are far easier to track when your employees are all working in an office, where you can monitor their output in person. But tradies simply don't have that advantage; that's why you need to track your workforce.
Increasing productivity needs to be a top priority.
So, tracking your employees' time and productivity can benefit trade businesses in a number of ways.
If you are concerned about how efficiently your employees work, employee tracking apps are a great way to build a positive feedback culture, as data, not just your word, will back your feedback.
One of the most important factors in any work team is building trust - trust that runs both ways. A healthy level of trust between management and staff begins with a clear understanding of rules and expectations, but how efficiently these understandings are adhered to is dependent on clear data to prove results. It can be tough to be sure that your expectations and standards are being met by your team.
Employee tracking apps provide concrete data and results about what your staff spend their time on, which can help you ensure that your employees are using their time effectively. If the data collected by your employee tracking software indicates that the team is not producing to the company standard, you can then take action to improve the situation.
Without a way to track employee productivity, it is difficult for a company to be sure if its employees on job sites are working at an adequate level of production. It can be hard to determine that they're on the job at all. You can use employee tracking apps to ensure that your team are where they say they are when they're meant to be there.
Unfortunately, time fraud (which can be as simple as an employee not showing up to work on time but claiming that they are) is one of the most common negative schemes in Australian trade businesses. By instigating employee tracking software, you won't have to worry about time fraud.
Helps With Project Management
Project management is a rather broad term that covers everything from estimating the amount of time tasks will take to complete and assessing the quality of the outcomes to employee tracking. Conducting these tasks effectively will give you an insight into how well your project management skills are impeding or positively affecting your revenue.
For example, you can use historical data to estimate how much time your team will need to complete future jobs, which will allow you to better assess your needs for future projects. You can also use software to track data in real-time to keep abreast of job progress.
The effectiveness with which an organisation operates is critical for its earnings, and project management is at the forefront of overseeing and improving production.
How to Choose the Best Employee Tracking Apps
So, now you're looking for the best employee tracking apps available on the market. Well, sadly, we can't provide you with details of "the one" because there is no such thing as the best employee tracking app. Sorry. All employee tracking apps are different and cater to different needs, so you will have to think long and hard about what your business needs in terms of keeping track of employees. Only when you know what you need will you be able to find the right employee tracking apps for your business.
For example, are you looking for simple attendance tracking software, or do you need software with GPS capabilities? Does your app need a time-stamped clock-in feature, or is allowing your employees to input their own times enough for you?
Best Employees Tracking Apps
Here are our best recommendations for employee tracking apps on the market.
AroFlo is at your disposal, no matter whether you prefer to work on a mobile phone, laptop or desktop. We offer software that is built to deliver services catered to the needs of your business.
Do you need to track your employees' time? We can do that! Do you need to make customisable reports to predict your future needs? No worries! Is your workforce all over the place, and do you need to track their location with GPS? Yep, we do that too. With AroFlo, you can use our employee tracking software to manage your team remotely and understand how your approaches to completing a project affect your revenue.
Is AroFlo for You?
AroFlo is completely customisable on all scales. We are for organisations big and small, or even freelance individuals. Because our software is available on all devices and as a desktop application, the features are available to use anywhere you need them.
- reporting and analytics
- time tracking
- project management
- work order imports
- quoting and estimating
- SMS notifications
- GPS tracking
- job costing
- OH&S compliance
- crew scheduling
Connecteam is an all-in-one, mobile-first employee tracking solution that builds a bridge between you, your employees, and your goals.
Connecteam's time clock lets employees clock in and out from their own devices at the click of a button. You can:
- pre-set notifications to clock in/out
- set alerts for if employees fail to log in on time
- use GPS capabilities to track your team
- set a radius in which staff can use the time clock.
You can integrate Connecteam with both Quickbooks and Gusto for a smooth payroll process from beginning to end.
Is Connecteam For You?
Connecteam is great for all industries and business sizes as it is exceptionally adaptable. With its fully flexible and customisable features, Connecteam is for business owners looking for an attendance tracking app that will scale as their business grows.
- automated reminder alerts
- notifications for set timelines
- adjustable timesheet templates
- lock timesheets to avoid tampering
- overtime hour limitations and alerts
- geolocation at the time of clock in/out
- breadcrumbs: GPS-tracked employee location
- export timesheets for payroll.
Hubstaff employee tracking software offers time tracking and location services. Employees can clock in on the go, and you can monitor their movement in real time! Hubstaff continually collects data, even when offline, and will automatically upload the information once back online.
Is Hubstaff for You?
Hubstaff is great for businesses where staff work primarily in the field. It offers GPS services to better support management while ensuring the safety of employees and remote workers. This attendance tracking software can track time according to variables such as per client or per project.
- tracks time offline
- monitoring along with reports
- automated time and attendance
- time tracking choices: hour, project, and task.
Buddy Punch captures location marks to help you keep track of your team members on the go. It is useful for field workers or staff who work fully remotely. Buddy Punch lets you know when your employees are not where they need to be.
Is Buddy Punch For You?
Buddy Punch is a fantastic option for employers who struggle with staff honesty - it takes attendance with 100% accuracy every time. While it is useful for both office and remote workplaces, Buddy Punch has proven most popular in the manufacturing and hospitality industries.
- quick facial recognition for time clocking
- office kiosk options
- online punch card
- GPS tracking for location checks
- operates both online and offline
Homebase is an employee tracking app useful for monitoring remote teams via GPS. It works on mobile devices as well as desktops, letting staff operate in the field while still being overseen by a manager from the office.
Is Homebase For You?
Along with its GPS tracking functions, Homebase also helps companies with hiring new employees and facilitating their onboarding. With its payroll feature, you can calculate wages correctly every time and send the right payments to employees at the touch of a button.
- timesheets available on both mobile and web versions
- GPS tracking for mobile devices
- time clock function incorporates breaks, overtime, and paid time off
- employee scheduling
- holiday management
- integrations with third party apps
Keep in touch – with respect
An employee tracking app is a must-have these days, particularly software that encompasses GPS tracking functions and time clocking.
After all, it's easy to monitor your employee's work activities when they operate in the office; when your staff work in the field, however, things can get complicated. That's why an employee tracking app can help you keep your team's performance optimal and on track.
The most important aspects to consider when choosing an employee tracking app are your business' needs, how all your employees work within the business and the features that will help YOU keep in touch with your employees while remaining respectful of their privacy.
So, go play with some employee tracking apps and find the right one for you!
We wish you happy employee tracking.