Employee Time Tracking in a Retail Store

Featured image of employee time tracking in a retail store.

As a retail manager, you need to track your store employees’ time for several reasons: Payroll and compliance, labor cost management, scheduling, workforce productivity, breaks and meal periods, and many more.

Generally, retailers have two ways to track their employees’ time: manual time-tracking methods and modern solutions, including point of sale (POS) systems and time and attendance software.

By the end of this blog, you’ll be able to:

  • Understand the limitations of manual employee time tracking in a retail setting
  • Recognize the advantages of implementing automated POS systems for time tracking
  • Gain insights on creating employee accounts and configuring permissions within your POS system
  • Learn best practices for conducting practical employee training on time-tracking procedures
  • Establish clear time-tracking policies for your retail establishment

Manual Employee Time Tracking Methods and Challenges

While automated time-tracking software provides the most efficient solution, some retail stores still rely on manual time-tracking methods. Two common approaches are spreadsheets/time sheets and punch cards.

Spreadsheets and Time Sheets

Spreadsheets, whether in a physical ledger or a digital format like Excel, are the most basic way retail stores track employee hours. Employees are responsible for recording their start and end times and any breaks or overtime. This method offers flexibility and can be customized to suit the specific needs of the retail store.

Timesheets are physical documents or templates where employees manually enter their daily work hours. These documents often require signatures from the employee and a supervisor, providing a record of approval. Timesheets for payroll processing can be collected regularly, such as weekly or bi-weekly.

While easy to implement, spreadsheets and time sheets have several downsides:

  • Human error: Employees may forget to record their hours accurately, leading to payroll discrepancies and potential disputes.
  • Time-consuming: Maintaining spreadsheets or timesheets can be time-consuming for employees and managers. It can lead to frustration and reduced productivity.
  • Lack of analytics: Without manual analysis, there are no data insights on workforce productivity or overtime spending.

Overall, spreadsheets and time sheets provide a low-tech option for basic time tracking needs but lack controls to prevent payroll fraud and do not scale well.

Punch Cards

A stack of old employee punch cards

Punch cards, or time cards, are a traditional method for tracking employee attendance and work hours. Employees use a time clock or card reader to “punch in” when they arrive at work and “punch out” when they leave. These cards are then collected and used for payroll calculations.

With punch cards, employees are often issued a physical card or badge containing a magnetic strip, barcode, or other identifying information. When they insert the card into the time clock or card reader, it records their entry and exit times.

Punch cards provide slightly better accountability than handwritten timesheets. However, this method has its own flaws:

  • Cost of equipment: Implementing a punch card system requires the purchase of equipment like time clocks or card readers, which can be costly for small retail businesses.
  • Buddy punching: Punch cards can be susceptible to “buddy punching” where one employee clocks in or out on behalf of another. This can result in payroll inaccuracies.
  • Limited reporting: Punch card systems often offer limited reporting capabilities. Generating detailed reports for analysis may be challenging.
  • Maintenance and repairs: Time clocks and card readers require maintenance and occasional repairs, adding to operational costs.

Automated Employee Time Tracking With a POS System 

Woman uses KORONA Studio on a laptop to analyze employee hours and reports

Modern technology provides automated solutions that accurately track when employees clock in and out. The two main methods retail stores use are POS systems and time and attendance software.

POS systems

Many retail stores already use point of sale systems to handle checkout transactions. However, most modern POS systems also provide robust employee time tracking.

Employees can clock in and out right at the register. The POS system records the timestamps and transfers them to payroll and scheduling systems. Managers can view reports on total hours worked, arrival/leave times, and other valuable metrics.

The data integrates directly with payroll to calculate paychecks accurately. Since employees are already familiar with the POS system, adopting time tracking requires little training. It’s an efficient method for stores with registers at centralized locations.

  • Clock-in/clock-out capabilities: Modern POS systems often have built-in time-tracking functionality, enabling employees to log work hours by swiping their employee cards or entering a PIN.
  • Integration with payroll: A significant advantage of using POS systems for time tracking is their seamless integration with payroll software. This means that hours worked are automatically transferred to the payroll system, reducing errors and administrative workload.
  • Real-time monitoring: Retail managers can access real-time data on employee work hours, breaks, and overtime. This feature enables quick decision-making and proactive management.

See also: Retail Employee Scheduling Software

How to Streamline Employee Time Tracking With a POS

Create employee accounts

The first step in implementing efficient time tracking with a retail POS system is to create individual employee accounts. To generate employee accounts, you will typically need to provide the following information:

  • Employee name
  • Email address
  • Job title
  • Department
  • Pay rate

Once you have created employee accounts, assign each employee a unique username and password. This will help to ensure the accuracy of your time-tracking data.

Set up time-tracking permissions

Setting up time-tracking permissions within your retail POS system is crucial to maintaining security and privacy. Define who has the authority to access and edit time-tracking data. This control ensures that only authorized personnel can make changes to time records. Permissions can be customized based on roles, such as managers, supervisors, and regular employees.

Train employees on how to clock in and out

Properly training your employees to clock in and out using the retail POS system is essential. They should know the process and understand its importance for accurate time tracking. You can organize training sessions or provide step-by-step written instructions to facilitate this. Ensure employees know the consequences of inaccurate time tracking for themselves and the organization.

Clocking in: Employees should know how to access the system, log in with their unique credentials, and accurately record their start time when they begin their shifts. The retail POS system should provide options for employees to specify any break periods or additional notes.

Clocking out: Employees should follow a similar process when ending their shifts. If applicable, they must log in, record their end time, and indicate any break times. Ensure they understand the importance of double-checking their entries for accuracy.

Review time tracking reports regularly

Regularly reviewing time-tracking reports is a crucial step in the process. This practice allows you to promptly monitor employee attendance and identify any irregularities or discrepancies. The retail POS system should generate reports that provide a comprehensive overview of employee attendance, including total hours worked, overtime, and attendance patterns.

By reviewing these reports, you can:

  • Identify and address late arrivals, early departures, or unauthorized breaks
  • Ensure accurate payroll calculations and prevent wage disputes
  • Improve workforce management and make informed decisions regarding staffing levels and scheduling

Practical Tips for Effective Employee Time Tracking

Establishing clear policies and procedures

The foundation of effective time tracking lies in having well-defined policies and procedures. Communicate all employees’ expectations, rules, and guidelines for time tracking. Make sure your policies are easily accessible and understandable.

Additionally, provide training and support to employees to ensure they understand how to use the tracking tools and comply with the policies. Set guidelines for rounding hours, overtime pay, and time off requests, and make sure policies comply with labor laws. 

Here are some tips for establishing clear policies and procedures for employee time tracking:

  • Define what tasks need to be tracked. Not all tasks need to be tracked in detail. Some tasks, such as meetings and breaks, may only need to be tracked in general terms. Other duties, such as billable work, may need to be tracked in more detail.
  • Decide how time should be logged. There are various ways to track time, such as manual timesheets, time-tracking software, and time clocks. Choose a method that is appropriate for your business and your employees.
  • Set clear expectations for submitting timesheets. Employees should know how often they must submit timesheets and when they are due. It is also important to have a process for reviewing and approving timesheets.

Read also: 5 Ways Labor Management Technology Improves Employee Retention

Regularly monitoring and auditing time data

Once you have established clear policies and procedures, monitoring and auditing time data is essential. This will help ensure that employees follow the guidelines and that the data is accurate.

Here are some tips for regularly monitoring and auditing time data:

  • Review timesheets for accuracy and completeness. This includes checking for errors in time entries and ensuring that all required information is included.
  • Compare time data to other sources, such as project plans and calendars. This can help to identify any inconsistencies or potential problems.
  • Use time-tracking software to generate reports. These reports provide valuable insights into how employees are spending their time.

Addressing privacy and security concerns

Employee time tracking can raise concerns about privacy and security. It is important to address these concerns and protect employee data.

Here are some tips for addressing privacy and security concerns:

  • Explain to employees how their time data will be used. Be transparent about the purposes for tracking time and how the data will be shared.
  • Use secure methods for collecting and storing time data. This may include using encryption and password protection.
  • Give employees control over their time data. Allow employees to review and correct their time entries.

Handling employee feedback and concerns

Listen to any concerns employees have about time-tracking procedures. Explain how collecting time data helps improve scheduling, wages, and workload distribution. Take feedback into account when evaluating and refining time-tracking policies and tools. Transparent communication prevents misunderstandings.

You might also want to read: How to improve time management for retailers.

Retail Employee Time Tracking With KORONA POS

KORONA POS is specialized POS software designed specifically for retailers. It includes time clock functionality as one of its key features. What sets KORONA POS apart from most other POS software is its extensive customization options for granting permissions to employees, both at the point of sale and within the KORONA Studio.

With KORONA POS, cashiers can easily clock in and out of the system. The software then generates a concise report detailing the hours worked, which store owners can conveniently import into their payroll system. And with its integration to TimeForge, retailers can seamlessly handle their labor management in one system. Click below to learn more about KORONA POS.

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Written By

Mahougnon Martial Amoussou

Passionate about SEO and Content Marketing. Martial also writes about retail trends and tips for KORONA POS. He loves NBA games and is a big fan of the Golden State Warriors.