employee clocking in with paper timecard instead of timecard apps

3 Challenges with Paper Timecards and How to Avoid Them

By The GoCanvas Team on September 7, 2021

 employee clocking in with paper timecard instead of timecard apps

Paper timecards are costly in the short and long run. If you want to influence your bottom line, ditching them for a better alternative should be inevitable. This article covers three of the top challenges with paper timecards and how to avoid them using timecard apps. 


Challenge #1: Buddy Punching 


What is buddy punching? 

Buddy punching is one form of time theft at work. Through this tactic, employees use their colleague buddies to clock in times not worked.

For example, if one is running late, they’ll most likely request their friends to clock them in without your knowledge. Another scenario is when one wants to check out unusually early. So, they ask their friends to clock them out at the checkout time. 

The worst scenario is when a team member fails to show up entirely but still uses a friend to clock them in and out.


How does it negatively affect businesses?

According to a study by Replicon, 75% of small-scale businesses in the United States see a significant drop in annual revenue because of buddy punching. Paying employees for hours not worked adds up to your payroll. It’s costly in the long run because you’re paying out of your pockets instead of what they produce. The American Payroll Association confirms that 50% of employers’ costs are on payroll management.


Why is it hard to manage when using paper sheets?

Managing time worked by employees can be a hassle, especially when using paper timecards. This is because there’s no way to hold them accountable. Often, this is due to the shortcomings of paper sheets like the inability to track team member activity. Also, there’s colleague loyalty. Without a reliable system to clock time, colleagues will always want to protect their buddies.


Solution to buddy punching: Digital timecard apps 

To minimize buddy punching, you can ditch paper timecards and use digital timecard apps instead. Digital apps have features to discourage buddy punching and make it much more difficult for employees. For example, timecard apps may have features such as GPS tracking, geofencing, unique passwords/logins, or even biometrics systems in advanced systems. Here’s how it works:

  • The GPS tracker helps track team members’ location, making it hard to lie about their check-in and check-out times.
  • The geofencing feature works more like the GPS tracker. The only difference is that it’s used to create a buffer around the workplace. Beyond this barrier, your employees can’t clock in time, helping to limit cheating.
  • Unique logins/passwords are a standard best practice for online systems and encourage workers to login from their own mobile phones when tracking their time, rather than a punch card system.
  • Some apps may even feature a unique system like biometrics for logging in. For example, the biometrics system uses fingerprints that can’t be manipulated.

Overall, timecard app technology pushes for accountability among employees because you can monitor their usage within the app, helping to discourage buddy punching.


Challenge #2: Human Error

The human error challenge is hard to avoid, especially when using analog systems to run a business. In particular, using paper timecards to clock in time increases the rate of human error in payroll systems. 

Potential errors from paper timecards include inflated work hours and wrong entries due to lack of accountability and illegible writing. This means that if you detect the problem on time, you’ll have to re-do the entries to correct the mistakes.

Unfortunately, not many business owners can detect these errors on time, costing their payroll eventually. As a business owner or manager, it’s difficult to have oversight into such minute details like hours, meaning this can go unchecked. 

The good news is: that shouldn’t be the end of your story if you’re a business owner. Yes, errors are prone to occur. However, with a timecard app, this shouldn’t cost your payroll anymore. Timecard apps are built to sync with accounting software, automatically enhancing the accuracy and efficiency of recording.

Timecard apps help to minimize human error and help you to save more that would otherwise go to payroll management. It’s not fair to pay extra wages because of wrongful recording or have to deal with payroll disputes. Have a timecard app will cut down on the errors that are common when dealing with paper timesheets.


Challenge #3: Manual Work

Tracking employees’ time using paper sheets can also be hectic and it can create manual workflows for your staff. Here are some of the common workflow challenges with paper timecards:

  • Tracking down missing or incomplete information
  • Correcting errors or mistakes
  • Manual data entry to submit timecards into accounting system
  • Travel time if employees in the field need to complete paper work in the office

Paper sheets create some frustrating manual work that can slow down your business growth and frustrate your employees. Because manual work is inefficient, it can also have the compounding effect of impacting your team’s morale and then their productivity when they are forced to spend so much time on “busy work.”

All of this can make it difficult for growing businesses to scale efficiently. Paper work can not be automated, so the faster you grow, the harder it becomes for your staff to keep up with the growing paper work from employees.

Switching to digital timecard apps because they help streamline business processes and automate how work gets done. Through timecard apps, data is submitted in real-time from employees in the field, eliminating time-consuming, manual workflows and data entry. Managers can also set up automatic notifications for employees to get alerted when a timecard is due, meaning they don’t have to send manual reminders or track people down. Finally, data can be integrated from timecard apps into accounting and payroll systems like QuickBooks or Sage for real-time data sync.


Final Verdict

If you’re still using paper time cards, you may have run into some of these hidden challenge that negatively impact your business. Going digital can help provide  a more reliable solution with timecard apps that help productivity and accuracy of data collected from employees. Contact the GoCanvas team any time to set up a quick demo of our timecard app solution or sign up for a free trial here to learn more.