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The 5 Myths of Time and Attendance

Time & Attendance

So you’ve pretty much written off most popular myths: the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, we never really landed on the moon (conspiracy theorists, cover your ears)! But when it comes to time and attendance and workforce management systems, some myths are surprisingly hard to shake off.

Here are some of the common myths school districts may believe about time and attendance systems — and the true stories you should know!

Myth #1: Paper Timesheets Are The Best Way To Track Employee Time

With more than 60% of school districts still using paper timesheets, it’s not surprising this myth has stuck around has long as it has. Employees write their time down on paper; the district collects it and enters it into payroll. Seems simple enough, right?

But then look at what else is involved:

–  Supervisors manually signing off on every timesheet
–  Wondering if employees wrote down their true time worked
–  Hand-keying every timesheet – without making a mistake
–  Employees trying to fill out their timesheets at the end of the week
–  Trying to match up employee time and absences
–  Seeing that employees went into overtime after the fact
–  Storing accurate records in case of an audit or employee complaint

Do paper timesheets still seem like the best way to track employee time?

Many districts are realizing the answer is “no” and that automated time and attendance management systems can provide a much more efficient and accurate way to track employee time.

Because automated systems collect employee time electronically (often via a time clock or electronic timesheets), automated districts no longer spend time chasing down timesheets, and approvals can all be handled online. Districts have said they save anywhere from hours to days of data entry every pay period by integrating their time and attendance system with payroll instead of hand-entering timesheets.

Myth #2: Our Employee Time-Tracking Seems Good Enough To Keep Us Compliant

Compliance is one of those scary things we all know we need to be concerned about eventually. Many districts think, “Our records are probably good enough. What are the chances of getting audited, anyway?”

When it comes to compliance, the risks of lawsuits or fines for non-compliance are just not worth it, as Seely Independent School District in Texas decided.

“Human error was one of the biggest reasons for us to look for an Internet-based system,” said Director of Human Resources Owen Hurt. “We knew it would help with the inaccuracies that could show up if we had an audit by the Department of Labor or if an employee felt they were being mismanaged as far as their overtime, comp time, pay or benefits.”

Time and attendance systems built for the K-12 industry can help districts comply in a number of areas:

–  Automatically apply payroll rules based on employee classifications, labor contracts and policies
–  Report on hours worked to determine benefit eligibility under the Affordable Care Act
–  Pay employees for their actual time worked to avoid lawsuits and back-wages
–  Comply with regulations like FLSA and FMLA
–  Eliminate payroll errors from manual data entry

A study by the Aberdeen Group showed that “through automation and integration with other systems, Best-in-Class organizations improved compliance by 9%.

It’s no myth.

Myth #3: Time & Attendance Systems Can’t Handle Our District’s Unique Payroll Rules

This myth has some truth to it — many systems can’t handle the many rules particular to the K-12 industry and to individual districts. Historically, large workforce management systems have tried to branch into K-12, but often require huge amounts of customization to handle unique education processes. Meanwhile, the “free” modular add-ons to ERP systems usually lack the functionality of a full time and attendance management system.

However, as districts have demanded better solutions, the available software options have expanded so that districts don’t have to settle for a system that can’t meet their needs.

Districts in the market for a time and attendance solution should look for systems that can handle things like:

–  Capturing time for employees working multiple jobs at multiple locations
–  Applying unique payroll rules to employee classifications
–  Tracking employee absences against comp time
–  Managing complex, multi-facility employee schedules
–  Tracking and preventing overtime before it occurs
–  Handling annualized pay and comp time for salaried employees

Thankfully, finding a system that works the way your district does isn’t just a myth anymore.

Myth #4: Time and Attendance Systems Always Seem So Overpriced

This is another myth springing from what used to be true across the board. Districts who’ve investigated some of the large workforce management suites know they often come with a very large price tag and long implementation cycles — sometimes a year or more. Couple that with upgrade charges, proprietary hardware and consulting fees, and time and attendance does start to feel overpriced.

Good news  these systems are not your only option. In addition to somewhat feature-lite ERP modules, districts can also find reasonably-priced, K-12 specific systems that often bill based on a predictable, recurring subscription cost.

But aside from the cost discussion, let’s talk about the return on investment of a time and attendance system for a second. For starters, Nucleus Research, the American Payroll Association and the Aberdeen Group have all done studies showing that organizations overpay their employees by an average of 1.2% due to human error representing $120,000 in payroll errors for every $10 million in payroll wages. They have also shown that time and attendance systems can eliminate up to 95% of this cost.

Ask yourself a few questions:

–  How much could you save by reducing overpayment from payroll errors by 1-2%?
–  How much could you save by preventing unnecessary overtime?
–  How much paper would you save by eliminating timesheets?
–  How much time would you save tracking down and approving timesheets?
–  How much could you prevent in fines and lawsuits by ensuring compliance with labor laws?

With labor costs making up 70-85% of a school district’s budget, districts need to make sure they’re effectively managing this huge expense.

Myth #5: Time & Attendance Systems Only Work For Hourly Employees

Whether it’s based on previous experience or just an assumption, many districts believe that time and attendance systems are specifically for tracking hours for hourly employees often the non-certified staff, like custodians, bus drivers and cafeteria workers.

In fact, most time and attendance management systems are also well equipped to handle salaried employees. But why would you need to put your salaried employees on a time and attendance system? Glad you asked!

–  Manage exception/annualized pay  (track employees working over or under their contracted time)
–  Track physical attendance to see who is in and out of the building in case of an emergency
–  Track actual hours worked for employees on the border for benefits under the Affordable Care Act
–  Capture employee time for extra-curricular events (dances, sports, class coverage, etc.)
–  Prevent users from putting in a “no sub needed” absence (stealing time)
–  Track all employee time in one system
–  Find employees who are working more or less than expected

The greatest efficiency is found in tracking all of your employees, including absences and time worked, in one place.

Have you discovered any other “myths” of time and attendance systems? Comment on a social network or contact us with any questions!

Allison Wert

Allison (Ali) Wert is the Content Marketing Manager of the award-winning content team at Frontline Education. She has been writing about education topics for nearly 10 years and specializes in best practices for K-12 strategic human capital management. Under her leadership, the team at Frontline was recognized as the Winner of CMA's 2017 Project of the Year and Best Content Marketing Program. Ali also helps to manage marketing for the Frontline Research & Learning Institute and The Line.