One Small System Upgrade That Creates Enormous Benefits for Dental Office Managers
Clock in, clock out. It’s such an automatic part of the day-to-day for you and your employees that you probably never even stop to think about it.
But one thing we know as HR Professionals is that keeping track of employee hours and all the things that go with it is time-consuming and often frustrating. We also know that it doesn’t have to be that way.
As a manager, you’ve got a lot going on. There’s an endless stream of administrative duties demanding whatever fraction of your attention they can get from you whenever you think you’ve found a moment to breathe.
So it makes perfect sense that changing the type of system you use to track time…Click to learn more in a new window… for your employees is probably just about the furthest thing from your mind at any given moment.
It may seem like an insignificant consideration when held up against everything else on your plate. But what if I told you that upgrading the time tracking system you use for your dental practice is one of the easiest ways to reclaim hours of your time each and every week? It’s true. And not only that, but it can also make meeting your compliance obligations much easier and more transparent, especially for those of you that are in states with complicated time tracking requirements.
Ironically, tracking time is taking more of your time than it should! So, let’s go over how such a small change can lead to enormous benefits for you, your team, and your business, and I’ll show you why it may be time to start thinking about upgrading the time and attendance system you use for your practice.
What a Robust Time Tracking System Can Do for Dental Office Managers
The best time tracking systems make it easy for employees to self-service 90 percent of the things they currently drop directly on your doorstep when it comes to timekeeping, time-off requests, PTO, clocking corrections, and more. This allows managers to shift the burden of dozens of time-sucking tasks back to your employees, which frees you up to focus on all of those other things you’ve got in your queue.
So, you may ask, “What sort of time-sucking tasks are we talking about?” All of the following and more can be centralized and streamlined by the right time tracking system:
- Approving, denying, and modifying employee PTO requests with a few clicks
- Creating forever records of all approvals and changes to your time records and tracking them back to the employee – no more slips of paper or verbal requests without documentation
- Detecting and stopping clock-milking via early or late punches
- Making it easy and transparent for employees to check time-off balances without bothering you
- Allowing employees to submit PTO requests digitally
- Simplifying and tracking all punch correction requests and changes for missed punches
- Placing approval for timecards and punch corrections in one easy-to-use dashboard so you can take care of payroll in minutes
- Running detailed payroll reports in seconds
- Running easy reports on labor
- Detecting and preventing unauthorized overtime
- Preventing “buddy punching”
- Automatically tracking vacation time as it’s used and accrued
- Tracking meals and breaks (for California, too!)
- Categorizing legally mandated time like FMLA, maternity leave, and more
- Requiring employees to approve timecards before you submit payroll to cut down on payroll errors and corrections
- About a hundred other things that you may or may not need that are easily accessed and activated for you
A self-service model that leverages technology to automatically create records and store them forever means no more sticky notes or emails about clocking corrections. No more Excel sheets. No more, “Could you tell me how much PTO or vacation I have?” questions. The best systems are made to give you complete control while shifting the method of getting answers to time-related questions to one of employee self-service. Employees love having that transparency and instant access to their timecards and PTO information and so will you.
Switching to a more robust time tracking system will save you hours each week running payroll, tracking time off, and answering employee questions. Not only that but having a compliant, customizable system in place will actually pay for itself and could even net your practice thousands of dollars each year, even if you only have a few employees. The more employees you have, the more you will save.
With the right system in place, you’ll be able to manage all of this and more in a fraction of the time you are currently putting toward these and other time-tracking tasks. Which presents the following question: What is your time worth to you?
It’s Possible Your Current System Isn’t Working For You, But Against You
In addition to saving you tons of time, a robust digital time tracking system will also make it easy to keep up with all of your compliance obligations at the state, federal, and local levels.
You and your employees use some form of time tracking system or device every day, whether it’s a paper timecard, an Excel sheet, or a free digital clock that came preloaded in your practice management software.
On the surface, the role this system plays is relatively simple: it tracks the hours your employees work on a daily basis so you can pay them properly for their time. But the truth is that your obligations related to tracking employee time and maintaining records of that time are a bit more complicated than just monitoring when employees arrived at work and when they left for the day.
Not only are you required by law to pay non-exempt employees at least minimum wage for all of the time they spend working and pay them overtime for any hours worked over 40 in a week (or eight in a day in California and other places), but you’re also required to hold onto those records for anywhere from three to seven years, depending on your state.
And those records include, not just the in-and-out punches themselves, but also your payroll records, your employees’ time-off accrual information, requests your employees made for time off, requests associated with missed punches, and the changes you made as a result of those requests, and more. What ends up happening is that dozens and often hundreds of time-tracking tasks are created and you’ve got to keep track of all the records of those tasks and execute them.
This is where stuff can get scary.
If anyone ever investigates your business alleging that you failed to pay employees properly for whatever reason (e.g., by failing to accurately correct missed punches, missing overtime payments, missing legally mandated breaks or meal periods, etc.), or if your state Department of Labor ever submits a records request to your practice as part of an audit, it is essential that you are able to supply all of the records that influence time tracking.
More and more, former employees are submitting detailed requests for time tracking records. Often, this is done just to “punish” a former employer and cause you to spend a whole bunch of time on a task you wouldn’t normally have on your to-do list. The request looks like this:
Please provide me with all the associated timekeeping records for my work with you for the past three years. It’s important that you include all records including requests for time off, corrections that you made, emails and physical notes about time-related items, and records of breaks and meal periods. Please also include accrual of all PTO and vacation and all administrative documents, including policies regarding how you calculated these items and how they are used.
When a request like this comes in – whether from an employee, an employment law attorney, or the Department of Labor – it’s not just about printing your timecards and handing them over to show the punches. If you want the result of that process to turn out in your favor, you’ll need to provide complete records of employee requests for timecard edits that match your payroll records, and that includes the employee’s signature, date, and your signature, as well.
When changes were made to those records, you will also need to be able to show why those changes were made and create a narrative that accurately depicts what was going on at the moment of the update. And, what’s more, you need to have systems in place for all of this before a records request ever comes your way or it will be too late to actually do anything about it when the wage police come knocking.
Many Time Tracking Systems Create Liability Rather Than Prevent It
I wish I didn’t have to say this, but your time tracking system should also prevent you from implementing processes that are against the law. The trouble is that less sophisticated time tracking systems almost always include features that can actually cause you to build evidence of illegal practices…Click to learn more in a new window… and fail to include features that truly support your business and its needs.
If your time tracking system doesn’t include the following features, or if it hasn’t been customized by an HR expert to ensure that those features are being used in compliance with the law, the system you use may be putting your business at risk:
- Ensuring proper employee classification (e.g., by preventing hourly employees from being classified as exempt from overtime requirements)
- Notifying you of missed breaks and early or late punches without automatically clocking employees out
- Automatically tracking mandatory PTO and other types of leave in accordance with federal, state, and local laws
- Automatically tracking overtime for non-exempt employees per federal, state, and local laws
- Allowing employees to submit requests for timecard changes and automatically keeping a record of those requests
- Requiring employees to approve their timecards before you submit payroll
- Allowing employees to clock in and out whenever they are working (i.e., your timekeeping system should not prevent employees from clocking in or out at a certain time arbitrarily)
If your timekeeping system does not include the features listed above, or if those features are being used incorrectly, you could actually be creating a record that shows illegal activity by your practice from a wage-compliance…Click to learn more in a new window… standpoint.
But, with the right customizations and features in place, your time tracking system can actually help you thwart wage and hour complaints, answer audits by the DOL or any other organization with ease, and save you and your employees thousands of dollars and several dozen hours of your collective work time (if not more) every year.
The old methods of tracking time, including the built-in punch clock that comes with your patient management system, are costing you more of your time and effort than they are worthwhile leaving your business vulnerable to litigation.
Find a System That Actually Works for You
Every practice manager should have an easy-to-use software system that goes beyond clocking employees in and out…Click to learn more in a new window….
The time tracking system we use at CEDR HR Solutions automates everything related to the time tracking process and all associated compliance considerations, including all of those must-have features listed above, none of the liability-creating features, and a whole lot more. It’s also the same system we provide to all of our members.
Not only does this solve the audit issue for us and everyone who uses that system, but it also helps take work off our plates in countless other ways.
Whether you use the CEDR system or one from some other provider, what I’m suggesting here is that you find a system that works for you and not the other way around. There are many good ones out there and a few that are great.
The key is to make sure that you can trust that software to protect your interests, save you time, and cover your assets when push comes to shove.