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4 Best Ways to Track Employee Hours

Sean Collins Sean Collins Last Updated:

Tracking employee hours is a necessity for many businesses. Without accurate timesheets, you can’t accurately bill clients, pay your staff, or even comply with EU regulations.

You’ve decided you need to start tracking your employees hours.

But what method is the best?

In this guide, we’ll cover three ways to track employee hours for any business.

Let’s jump in!

How to track employee hours — 4 methods

Let’s look at how you may consider tracking employee hours in your business.

  • Pen and paper 🗒️
  • Spreadsheets 📑
  • Time tracking app 📱
  • Time tracking software 💻

1. Pen and paper

Your team may be living that remote life or working somewhere where the internet is down-and-out. So they have to whip out their notepad and jot their hours down.

Just like this. 🗒️

It’s an option — yes.

But is it the best option? Probably not. 💀

I can’t imagine you would want to use this method to track your employees hours.

So what else can you use? Let’s take a look!

2. Spreadsheets

Tools like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets are widely used to track employee hours.

Typically, employees will add their work hours each day and submit the timesheet for approval at the end of the week. Their total working hours will be calculated automatically if the spreadsheet is set up with the correct formulas.

Search for ‘timesheet templates’ on Google, and you’ll come across a bunch of free timesheet templates you can use.

Screenshot of Google search results for 'timesheet templates'

We created our very own timesheet templates for this exact purpose. Feel free to check them out!

Excel, Google Sheets, Google Docs, PDF, and Microsoft Word templates are available. 😊

How do they work?

Our weekly timesheet template contains cells for:

  • Day of the week
  • Start and end times
  • Breaks
  • Total hours
  • Overtime hours
  • Total hours for the week
  • Hourly and overtime rate

You can see an example of our weekly timesheet template below.

Weekly timesheet template

Note: The spreadsheet has been set up to calculate the weekly billable hours based on the hours entered. The total working and overtime hours will be calculated automatically – based on the hourly and overtime rates entered.

Feel free to alter the spreadsheet to suit your needs!

But are spreadsheets practical for teams?

Don’t get me wrong – I think our timesheet templates are solid.

But I’ve chatted with a few agencies that use spreadsheets to track employee hours – and they always say how chaotic they are.

  • Files get copied.
  • Some go “missing.”
  • Formulas are unintentionally edited.
  • People don’t tend to fill them in all that much.
  • You’re unable to quickly get insights you can leverage (more on this later).

You also have to remember that employees tend to hate time tracking in general. So using a spreadsheet to track their time may not be the best approach.

Source

Are there better alternatives?

Yep! 👇

3. Time tracking apps

Thanks to mobile time tracking apps, tracking employee hours have never been more manageable.

They are perfect for field teams working at a customer property or site. Or service businesses in and out of client meetings all day – where a laptop is not always within reach.

Usually, time tracking software will offer an iOS or Android mobile app as a standard option. You should be able to find an app that works for you by heading over to either the Apple App or Google Play Store.

Time tracking apps available in the Google Play Store

Or you can find an app via Google if you’re on desktop.

If you’re using Toggl Track as your time tracker, you’ll have access to both an iOS and Android time tracking app. Both make tracking hours for client projects easy – especially if you’re working on various different tasks a day.

Time tracking apps by Toggl Track

4. Time tracking software

Employee time tracking software is the best way to keep track of employees hours — especially for teams that work on client projects and tasks all day.

Unlike spreadsheets, many of the best time tracking apps come with features that help to automate and streamline the entire time tracking process.

Again, Google is your best friend here. Search for ‘time tracking software’ and you’ll find plenty of suitors.

Screenshot of Google search results for 'time tracking software'

Time tracking software will allow your employees to track their hours in various ways.

For example, if you’re using a tool like Toggl Track, you will have access to a web, desktop, and two mobile apps. Employees can quickly start tracking their time by entering a time entry description and hitting the timer button.

It takes a few seconds to switch the timer to a different task (especially if projects and tasks are already set up).

  1. Type in your “time entry description”
  2. Find your client
  3. Select what “project” you’re working on
  4. Start the timer

Easy!

Tracking time in Toggl Track

Let’s look at the core features of Toggl Track that can help your employees track their hours worked.

ItemDescription
One-click timersTrack time across the web app, desktop app, mobile app, or browser extension – with one click! All your entries will sync automatically.
Background TrackingAuto-track every application or website you use for more than 10 seconds with our Timeline feature – then turn that data into time entries.
Calendar IntegrationsIntegrate your Outlook or Google Calendar into Toggl Track’s Calendar view and create or start time entries based on calendar events. Available for our web and mobile apps.
Favorite time entriesPin your most frequently-used time entries to the top of your Timer page for easy access. Currently available for the web app, coming soon to other platforms.
100+ App IntegrationsToggl Track’s browser extensions allow you to start the timer directly from online tools like Asana, Todoist, Trello, and more.
Multiple employee appsWeb, desktop, and mobile apps are all built for ease of use.
Head to our features page to learn more

Remember how I mentioned that spreadsheets couldn’t quickly provide data insights you can leverage?

Most time tracking tools should allow you to quickly dig deeper into data you can leverage to improve business processes or increase project profits.

If you’re using Toggl Track, you will have access to our Insights Dashboard.

It will give instant access to data such as employee and project profitability, total project earnings, labor cost, etc.

Project insights in Toggl Track

Check out our knowledge base articles below to learn more.

The best employee time tracking software

What’s the best way to track your employees hours?

Time tracking software is your best bet. It will give you way more than a spreadsheet ever could.

But what’s the best time tracking software?

This depends on your business and what you want to get out of it. There are plenty of time tracking apps out there.

Each one is built for a different user type.

For example, an app built for an enterprise company won’t be helpful for someone who wants to track their time at home to be more productive at home.

To help you out, here’s a quick overview of what we think are some of the best software to track employee hours.

AppG2 Rating*ReviewsIntegrationsFree plan?
Toggl Track4.61,500+100+Yes
Clockify4.5130+80+Yes
Harvest4.3760+50+Yes
Hubstaff4.3400+30+Yes
Replicon4.3600+40+No

*Data taken directly from G2. Accurate as of October 2022.

Head over to our guide ‘Top 5 Best Employee Time Tracking Software‘ to learn more.

Sean Collins

Sean is a Content Marketing Manager at Toggl and has been involved in the digital marketing space since 2017. Sean is on a mission to travel the world and fund it using his SEO and Content Marketing skills.

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