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How to Choose the Best Employee Time Clock for Small Businesses?

How useful would it be to have an employee time clock—a reliable system to track employee time and attendance—for your business?

You don’t want to lose hours on manual admin work and thousands of dollars on time card errors or frauds.

In this post, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about time clocks, and help you pick the best option for your business.


Let’s start with why every business needs a time clock.

Why all businesses need a time clock?

Save time for both employers and employees

Tracking and verifying time cards, calculating hours, and processing them for payroll manually can take hours of your day. These hours add up in the long run, eating up a huge part of your valuable time bank.

If you’ve already had a lot on your plate, you don’t need to waste your time and energy on manual work. Some employers even let employees track their own hours, which wastes employees’ time and can lead to time card fraud.

A time clock automatically calculates employee hours, meaning you’ve just saved yourself hours for more important tasks.

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Eliminate human error and process accurate payroll

Imagine you pay your employees less than the work hours they’ve put in.

Guess what happened? You tracked the time wrong.

Employees may feel offended and unpleasant. Some can be too afraid to raise the question and resent you in silence. This can cause disengagement, and even compliance issues if employees sue you.

You can’t rely on manual time tracking because there’s human error and you may unintentionally not comply with labor laws. Whether they’re errors in typos or calculations, they can cause certain problems to your business.

And not only managers may make mistakes. Sometimes, employees simply forget to clock in/clock out, or punch in the wrong time. In certain cases, some even attempt time theft.

If you want to set multiple constraints for your schedules, a time clock is useful. You can control these aspects to always stay compliant:

  • Shifts
  • Part-time/Full-time
  • Paid leave/time off
  • No call, no show
  • Vacation time

Many time clock apps can integrate with payroll systems, so that’s one fewer thing to be concerned about.

Track attendance and spot attendance issues

Employees have to clock in/clock out through the time clock, so it’s easy to track attendance and spot patterns such as:

  • Tardiness
  • Early clocking in/out
  • Late clocking in/out
  • Extended breaks
  • Unplanned overtime

These behaviors can be signs of time card fraud, which costs US businesses billions of dollars every year.

Another attendance issue worth mentioning is frequent absences. These absences affect your business performance and waste your time on rescheduling. Other employees may feel unfair and demotivated if they have to cover too many shifts for the absentees. You need to find out why employees are off work all the time and seek suitable solutions.

Besides showing an overview of real-time attendance, some time-tracking apps can help with scheduling. You can select replacements based on similar roles/skills/locations/etc, and quickly find enough staff for shifts without ringing around.

Build a fair workplace

A time clock eliminates biases and ensures everyone has the same opportunities for work. This means you can avoid employees questioning why certain staff got more hours.

A useful feature you can look for when choosing a time clock is the ability to show open shifts to employees. Staff can grab those shifts on a first-come, first-served basis if they want more overtime hours.

Manage your employees anywhere

Gone are the days when managers always have to be on-site to monitor their employees. If you love the idea of on-the-fly management, then time clock apps are great options.

Today, you can assign shifts and tasks, provide instructions, and make announcements via the app, right on your phone.

Types of time clocks

Basic time clocks

A basic time clock stamps the time or punches holes on each employee’s time card. It’s easier to commit time card fraud using this type of time clock. Buddy punching and additional punching for more overtime are common fraudulent cases.


  • Easy to use


  • Lots of admin work
  • Human error
  • Paper time card costs
  • Employees may forget to bring their cards.

Proximity time clocks

Employees clock in and clock out by passing or swiping their card/badge near the reader.


  • Easy to use
  • Less maintenance


  • Expensive to replace
  • Employees may forget or lose their card/badge.

Biometric time clocks

Employees clock in and out using:

  • fingerprints
  • handprints
  • finger vein
  • palm vein
  • facial recognition
  • retina
  • iris


  • Employees don’t need to bring a card/badge or remember a password.
  • Eliminate buddy punching
  • Great for employees who work on-site.

Web-based time clocks

Employees clock in and out from a PC, laptop, or phone, by logging into their account.


  • Employees can clock in/out from anywhere.
  • Can integrate with other payroll/HR software
  • Employees can view their hours from their dashboard
  • Partly eliminate buddy punching (unless employees give their log-in info to someone else)
  • Great for remote teams and employees in large organizations


  • Rely on computers and phones
  • High initial costs

Software time clocks

Employees clock in and out on a time clock app, from anywhere and on any device.


  • Multiple clocking in methods: GPS, Wi-Fi, facial validation
  • Can integrate with HR/payroll software
  • Employees can view their hours from their dashboard, on any device
  • Eliminate buddy punching
  • Great for employees who commute to different job sites, remote teams, and employees in large organizations
  • Some apps have a web-based version


  • Employees need at least one device to clock in/out.

Which time clock should you use for your business?

The answer depends on your business’ budget, size, and needs.

Small business owners often hesitate when facing options with high initial costs.

But if those choices help save more money on maintenance and time on admin work, as well as eliminating unwanted errors, then they cost you less in the long run.

Why small businesses should use a time clock app?

We recommend you use software-based time clocks/time clock apps like Camelo because they’re:

Easy to set up and use

You can set up your own system, or contact the software company to set one up for you.

Reliable and convenient

Time and attendance are tracked and recorded automatically. And you can manage them anywhere, on any device.

Cost-effective and less maintenance

You don’t have to spend more money to replace/repair an expensive broken machine or when you run out of time cards.

Using an app means the development team will help with the maintenance and support. The fee is reasonable and clear right from the beginning, too.

Free trials

Time clock apps offer free trials so you can try them out and decide whether to continue using them. It’s hassle-free and costs you nothing.

How to choose a time clock app for your business?

Read reviews and shortlist 3 options

Create a shortlist of 3 options available based on your research on these questions:

  • Does it solve your problems?
  • Is it smooth and fast?
  • What’s the level of support like?
  • Do you have to spend extra later on?

It’s best to read reviews on websites and from real buyers. Filter out and look for thorough and honest reviews.

Take free trials

Almost all apps allow a free trial period, so you can take free trials to have a hands-on experience. See if you like their interface, features, smoothness, etc.

Compare and pick the best one

Some important factors you can consider when comparing the options include:

Level of support

  • Do you get prioritized and quick support if you upgrade?
  • Do they charge extra if you need more personalized support?

A customized app for your business is a plus because yours may have specific needs.

  • What’s the time frame when support is available? Does it match your time zone?

Ease of use

  • Is the app easy enough to use for both you and your staff?
  • Do your teams need training and explanation to use the tool?

Time and cost to set up

  • Does it take long to set up?
  • Are the initial costs reasonable?
  • Do you have to spend extra in the long run?

Have you found the best time clock for your business?

There’s no doubt that time clocks are crucial for any business. Because it’s time-consuming and exhausting to track time and attendance manually.

Take some time to try out different types of time clocks, and pick a suitable one for your business. You’ll soon have extra time for more important matters.

Or you can try out a user-friendly and cost-effective time clock app right away. Might we recommend Camelo?

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