Time and attendance is as old as work itself. Keeping track of the time worked for employees has always been crucial to figuring out how much to pay each worker. Back in the day, rudimentary methods were being used such as punch clocks, tokens or other interesting contraptions. Check out this wooden time clock that was used by workers at Harland & Wolff when building the Titanic to prevent time theft!

Old Wooden Time Clock for workers building the Titanic Ship in Belfast 1909

Luckily since then, we now live in a digital age and there is a variety of cloud-based solutions that allow you to keep accurately track of employee time and attendance. There are lots of options out there, and whether they will be a success for your business depends on a variety of factors. These 5 best time and attendance systems stand shoulders above the rest though in 2021.

An Overview of the 5 Best Time and Attendance Systems in 2021

TimeKeeper - most suitable for small to medium businesses who want a simple time and attendance system at a lower cost than TSheets https://timekeeper.co.uk

TSheets - most suitable for medium to larger enterprises that have complex time tracking needs and are happy to pay a higher price https://www.tsheets.com

Deputy - most suitable for businesses who need to track time and attendance for shift based workers https://www.deputy.com

HubStaff -  most suitable for remote workers as it has time and attendance with employee monitoring features https://hubstaff.com

When I Work - a cheaper alternative to Deputy, most suitable for businesses with shift based workers. https://wheniwork.com

Let's dive into each one of these options in detail to give you some more insight into the features, pricing and tradeoffs.

TimeKeeper.co.uk

How does it work?

TimeKeeper is a Northern Irish time and attendance software created in 2018. TimeKeeper is quite similar to TSheets in feature set, however focuses on providing simpler software for the employee to use and at a price more suitable for small businesses.

Some of the top features for TimeKeeper include:

  • Clock in on mobile via the TimeKeeper App
  • Clock in on tablet via TimeKeeper app
  • Clock in on web
  • Job Management
  • Job Scheduling
  • Clock in with Photo and Facial Recognition on Mobile and on Kiosk
  • Leave Management
  • Geofencing Features
  • Job Management Features (Photos/Notes/Signatures/Documents)

Who's it most suitable for?

The software is generic enough to suit a range of small businesses, especially suitable in construction, landscaping and professional services. They are a UK based company so will prioritise features for UK customers compared to their US counterparts.

Free Trial?

Yes - a 14 day free trial with no credit card required.

Cost?

They offer a competitive simple pricing plan at £3 per employee per month for all features.

Cost for 50 employees per month

50 * £3 per employee per month = £150 per month

Tradeoffs?

If you have super complex pay rates or require features to deal with a lot of shift workers, you are best going with the other solutions listed. However if you want a cost effective, easy to use, reliable time and attendance tool for your business then TimeKeeper is your best option.

TSheets.com

How does it work?

TSheets is an American based company that has been a leader in time and attendance systems from its inception. So much so, that they were acquired by Intuit, the parent company of Quickbooks accountancy software in 2017.

Some of the top features for TSheets include:

  • Clock in on mobile via the TSheets App
  • Clock in on tablet via TSheets Kiosk app
  • Clock in on web
  • Job Scheduling
  • Shift Scheduling
  • Clock in with photo and Facial Recognition (on TSheets Kiosk only*)
  • Leave Management
  • Geofencing Features (available on Elite Plan)
  • Quickbooks Integration

Who's it most suitable for?

TSheets can be moulded to suit a large variety of businesses ranging from hospitality to professional services. If you are a Quickbooks user, and you'd like to integrate your time and attendance with your Quickbooks payroll this is the official approved product, as they are both owned by Intuit.

Free Trial?

Yes - a 30 day free trial with no credit card required.

Cost?

TSheets has two plans, with the Elite plan being their premium offering which includes geofencing ability.

Elite Plan - £8 per user per month + £30 base fee per mo.

Premium Plan - £6 per user per month + £16 base fee per mo.

Cost for 50 employees per month (based on Elite Plan) -

(50 * £8) + £30 base fee = £430 a month.

Tradeoffs?

TSheets is very good however they have been steadily increasing prices since their acquisition by Intuit in 2017 - getting to a level that might make some small businesses think twice about implementing such a system, hence why this system may be more suitable for medium to large enterprises. One large downside of the TSheets mobile app is that it doesn't support facial recognition on mobile as well as the facial recognition violations being quite hard to find within their software.

Deputy.com

How does it work?

Deputy is a USA based scheduling and time and attendance product that has a big focus on providing features for shift based workers. They originally started as a shift scheduling product before branching out to cover time and attendance features.

Some of the top features of Deputy include:

  • Employee Shift Scheduling
  • Employee Messaging
  • Clock in on mobile via the Deputy App
  • Clock in on tablet via Deputy app
  • Clock in on web
  • Many Integrations including Square, Xero and more
  • Leave Management
  • Employee Shift Management (Shift Swapping etc)
  • Facial Recognition

Who's it most suitable for?

If you are a hospitality business, Deputy or WhenIWork is the best solution for you. Deputy is a US based company so a lot of the features are configured to suit those companies but can be modified easily. If you want to integrate your time and attendance into other software in your business, Deputy has a large variety of integrations.

Free Trial?

Yes - a 31 day free trial with no credit card required.

Cost?

For scheduling and time and attendance features, you will need the Deputy Premium plan which comes in at a cost of £3 per employee per month.

Cost for 50 employees per month

50 * £3 per employee per month = £150 per month. There is a minimum monthly spend of £10.

Tradeoffs?

Generally a good product, plenty of features and at a cost effective price. If you run a business with a lot of shift based workers, Deputy would be recommended. Not many downsides on the product, possibly worth comparing to WhenIWork.

HubStaff

How does it work?

Some of the top features for HubStaff include:

  • Clock in on mobile via the HubStaff App
  • Clock in on tablet via HubStaff app
  • Clock in on web
  • Job Management
  • Job Scheduling
  • Employee Monitoring (URLs) and Automatic Screenshot Employee Computer
  • Leave Management
  • Geofencing Features

Who's it most suitable for?

Most suitable for agencies with lots of remote workers but again can be used for a wide variety of businesses as they have been branching out their feature set. The messaging of the product focuses on the time tracking but also employee monitoring, so if you want to record time and attendance, and keep a close eye on your staff (possibly remote), HubStaff is your best bet.

Free Trial?

Yes - a 14 day free trial no credit card required.

Cost?

The cost is $10 per user per month for the full feature set (based on the Premium Plan)

Cost for 50 employees per month

50 * $10 per employee per month = $500 (£365 per month on 3/1/2020). Minimum spend of $20 a month.

Tradeoffs?

HubStaff is feature packed but be wary, some of the features such as employee monitoring and automatic screenshots may alienate some of your workforce. Personally this author wouldn't be comfortable installing such a software on their machine. HubStaff is also quite expensive at approx £8 per user per month.

WhenIWork.com

How does it work?

WhenIWork is another time and attendance product, largely being a more cost effective alternative to Deputy. Some of the top features of WhenIWork include:

  • Employee Shift Scheduling
  • Employee Messaging
  • Clock in on mobile via the WhenIWork App
  • Clock in on tablet via WhenIWork app
  • Clock in on web
  • Many Integrations including Square, Xero and more
  • Leave Management
  • Employee Shift Management (Shift Swapping etc)

Who's it most suitable for?

Similar to Deputy, mainly suitable for hospitality businesses but can be used for a wide range of features.

Free Trial?

Yes - a 31 day free trial no credit card is required (even though they prompt you after sign up).

Cost?

If you are a hospitality business, you can get the shift management features for FREE, however for time and attendance features that will set you back £1.50 per employee per month. So it's a cost effective alternative to Deputy.

Cost for 50 employees per month (based on Pro Plan) -

Cost per user per month works out at £3.50 (£2 for shift management features per user per month + £1.50 for time and attendance features per user per month)

(50 * £3.50) = £175 a month

Tradeoffs?

If you are trying to prevent buddy punching, they are lacking in the ability to apply facial recognition on clock in but they do have geofencing abilities to help with this.

Summary

If you are a small to medium sized business, TimeKeeper is a safe bet. Their "does what it says on the tin" approach means they provide simple software with easy integration, along with one of the best pricing structures on the market.

For larger businesses, TSheets provides...

In the hospitality industry, I'd recommend either Deputy or WhenIWork.

For remote teams, HubStaff is probably best.

A good idea is to utilise the free trial on each of these and see which one you personally like and which is the best fit for your business.