There’s a weekly practice that continues at construction companies across the country that’s downright draining dollars from their bottom lines. It’s the practice of using paper time cards for time tracking and payroll.

Tracking the time your employees work is simply part of doing business. This is especially true in construction where many employees are “non-exempt” from being paid overtime. So that means they are considered hourly workers, not salaried.

If you’re using paper time cards to track the number of hours your employees work each week, you’re setting yourself up for time theft, errors and lost productivity.

The Symptom: Paper Time Cards Lead to Inaccurate Time Data and Time Theft

In a tough labor market, you need every competitive advantage you can get. Paper time cards put you at a competitive disadvantage.

When you use paper time cards you rely on workers to fill out the amount of time worked either daily or weekly and manually submit them to payroll. This system poses several issues for construction companies that can seriously cost you time, money and even create compliance risk. 

How Paper Time Cards Cost You

Time Theft

Unfortunately, not every employee you hire will be 100% honest or have your best interests at heart. In fact, two-thirds of all US businesses fall victim to employee theft. Time theft can happen a couple of ways, through buddy punching or fudging numbers.

“Buddy Punching” is where an employee has a co-worker clock them in or out when they’re not at work. For example, an employee is running late and calls a co-worker who’s on time to punch them in as well. 

This type of time theft can lead to hours of false work records every month, ultimately costing you big bucks. Consider how much 15 minutes could cost if buddy punching happens every day. 

Fudged numbers and hour inflation is a problem faced by employers with a remote workforce of 20 workers or 200—and those minutes and hours add up to a significant and unnecessary monetary loss.

No matter if your organization is made up of 5 people or 500, 10 minutes of pay adds up quickly. Over the course of months and years, time theft sucks up funds that could have been used to pay for new equipment, business expansion or additional benefits. 

The continued use of paper time cards makes time theft easy for workers who are willing to take advantage of the system.

Payroll Processing Errors

Not every type of time theft is intentional. Some time theft is due to human error. Time makes our memory fuzzy. And the bigger the gap between the time worked and the time it’s reported, the less the likelihood your workforce is properly and accurately filling out their time cards. Do you remember exactly what time you started working Monday or last week?

The accuracy of paper time cards also relies heavily on good penmanship. When an employee hands you a time card that is so sloppy that a nine looks like a zero, you’re going to have an error in your data entry. 

But sloppy penmanship isn’t the only reason for manual errors; bookkeepers also make mistakes on occasion when entering data by hand. And those errors could pose a compliance risk if there are questions about whether your payroll matches time worked, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Time Wasted Processing Paper Time Cards

Any bookkeeper will tell you, payroll processing with a pen and paper is a time-consuming headache. First, you need to decipher the data, which could be sloppily written, making it difficult to read. Then that data needs to be manually entered into your payroll processing software. There’s also the time wasted by employees who have to take the time to manually write down their hours. 

The Solution: Automating Time Tracking

The solution to all these problems is to ditch your paper time cards and adapt a digital time tracking solution instead.

Benefits of Automated Time Tracking

Eliminate Time Theft

A digital time card solution, like ExakTime, eliminates buddy punching with photo biometrics and GPS tracking with geofencing.

  • Photo Biometrics: When workers clock in and out from the field with their unique four-digit PIN, our convenient FaceFront Biometrics feature snaps a photo with their front-facing camera, which your bookkeeper can use to verify the accuracy of every punch. 
  • GPS Tracking with Geofencing: ExakTime Mobile allows you to collect each employee’s location upon clock-in or clock out with GPS, so you know they were at the job site. A geofence flags whether an employee is on site as they clock in or out, or may allow employees to clock in only in designated areas. For example, a construction employee might not be allowed to clock in until they physically step onto the job site, whose GPS coordinates and radius are determined by their employer.

Reduce Error

With ExakTime, you won’t have to decode handwritten time sheets anymore. Employees’ start and stop times are recorded digitally in the GPS time clock app, so there’s no opportunity for misremembering or incorrect recording. Everything is there in your system so that you or your payroll personnel can easily prepare for payroll. Collect online employee signoffs on time cards and sync the data directly to your accounting program. 

Save Time

According to research by EY, just under 30% of HR processes, like entering time cards, could be automated, freeing up valuable time for other, more strategic, work. 

Automated time tracking solutions, like ExakTime, make payroll processing more efficient and accurate. Records collected by either the mobile app or ExakTime’s rugged time clocks are stored in the cloud and easily access with ExakTime Connect software in your office, eliminating the need for time-consuming trips to multiple job sites to collect time records. And, with AccountLinx, the data can be synced directly with your payroll program

This blog accompanies the Symptoms & Solutions series featured on