How does Zenefits time tracking work? Pros, cons, and alternatives

by Time Doctor
Zenefits Time Tracking

Acquired by Human Resources (HR) solutions provider Trinet in 2022, Trinet Zenefits is a technology company based in San Francisco, California.

The company’s cloud-based software, Zenefits, is an HR platform designed for small and medium businesses as well as freelancers. 

The software can help streamline your HR process by bringing work schedules and Zenefits payroll features under one roof. Zenefits also offers advisor services in addition to core HR features and customer service.

If you’re using Zenefits for human resource and performance management, you may be wondering about the software’s time tracking capabilities. After all, time tracking is a sure-shot way of measuring your team’s productivity.

So how does Zenefits time tracking work?

In this article, we’ll discuss what Zenefits time tracking is and how it works. We’ll also cover its three key advantages, three major limitations, and a better time tracking alternative. 

Table of Contents

Let’s begin.

What is Zenefits time tracking?

Zenefits offers advanced employee time tracking and work scheduling features that allow your HR team to sync the time tracking data automatically with the tool’s HR software and payroll features. 

Zenefits gives your team access to flexible time tracking, allowing your team to get an overview of employee activity in real-time. 

Let’s take a detailed look at how you can use these Zenefit features. 

How does Zenefits time tracking work?

The Zenefits software provides time tracking functionalities across all its pricing plans. This core feature can be used in two different ways, including:

  • Time keeper: Clock in and out on the web or the Zenefits mobile app on an iPad.
  • Self-reporting: Make manual time entries into timesheets to record work hours.

Now, let’s breakdown these two time tracking modes in detail:

1. Time keeper

With Zenefits Time Keeper software, employees can clock in and out of work, switch between projects, and apply for a meal break.

Here’s how to do it:

A. Clock in and out

To clock in, employees can:

  • Log in to their Zenefits employees account.
  • Click on the Time and Attendance app.
  • Select Project from the drop-down menu in the Timekeeper section. 
  • Enter a Note if needed.
  • Click Clock In.
  • The work status will change to Clocked In.

To clock out, they can:

  • Navigate to the same Timekeeper section and click Clock Out.
  • The status will now change to Clocked Out.

B. Meal break

Employees can apply for a meal break if their status is Clocked In on the Time and Attendance app.

  • Select the Meal Break option on the Time and Attendance app.
  • This will update their status to On Break.
  • To end a break, they can log back into Zenefits, click on the Time and Attendance app, and select End Break.
  • Note that meal breaks are deducted from an employee’s paid time. 

C. Switch projects

Your team can switch work projects if your company uses Project Codes

To switch a project, employees can:

  • Log in to their Zenefits employees account and select Time and Attendance.
  • Select New Project from the drop-down in the Timekeeper section.
  • Click the Switch Project button.

2. Self-reporting

Your team can also manually input their work hours for the day with Zenefits. This self-service attendance software lets them manually enter their in and out times and total work hours. 

To self-report, your team can:

  • Log in to Zenefits, select the Time and Attendance app, and choose Enter Hours.
  • Find the date they wish to report hours for in the timesheet.
  • Choose to enter start and end times or total work hours for the day.

Note: All self-reported work hours are due at noon (based on an employee’s local time) on the day after the pay period ends.

Now, look at the pros of using the Zenefits time tracking software.

3 key advantages of Zenefits time tracking

Here are three reasons why using Zenefits for its time tracking software can be beneficial:

1. Flexible time tracking

Zenefits time tracking features are available on the tool’s web and mobile applications. This feature ensures that your team doesn’t have to commute to the office to clock in and can log into work from their mobile device. 

Allowing your team to track work hours from anywhere – remote, on the field, or at the office – is an essential feature to have in today’s fast-changing corporate world. You can get an overview of your team’s work status using the Zenefits dashboard. 

2. Employee scheduling features

The Zenefits platform gives an HR manager access to key employee scheduling and leave management features, including:

  • Create and edit work shifts for employees.
  • Get notifications when a new schedule is created.
  • Block out dates to work around individual employee schedules. 
  • Build work schedules around job roles.
  • Request time off from managers based on the company’s time off policy. 

3. Integrated payroll features

This tool’s payroll software is integrated with the key Zenefits HR features, allowing you to streamline everything from payments to employee benefits enrollment to employee onboarding.

Some of the key Zenefits payroll features include:

  • New hire onboarding sync: Sync the information of a new employee with payroll and benefits from the get-go. 
  • Hours worked sync: Sync time tracking data from scheduling, hours worked, breaks, etc., with payroll.
  • Paid Time off (PTO) sync: Sync time off tracking data with payroll. 

Let’s now look at the three main limitations of using the Zenefits time tracking.

3 major drawbacks of Zenefits time tracking

Zenefits’ time tracking feature has limitations that make it unsuitable for most teams. Here are the three major drawbacks:

1. Lack of idle time tracking

One of the key drawbacks of the Zenefits software is its inability to track idle time. Idle time refers to a period of unproductive time where an employee doesn’t work. 

Idle time is usually calculated by the lack of desktop activity. This data helps you calculate the billable hours for your team. 

Zenefits can’t measure idle time and depends on your team to manually notify you when they’re on breaks. This system can lead to time theft and employee absences. This can cause inaccuracies in the payroll as well as client billing. 

2. Lack of employee monitoring solutions

The right time tracking tool allows you to monitor employee activity during their work hours and flag off unproductivity. 

Effective employee and HR management solutions include web monitoring features like productivity ratings and desktop monitoring features like screenshots. 

Zenefits’ native time tracking feature lacks these crucial monitoring solutions. This can result in managers lacking the data to ensure employee engagement, accountability, and a smooth workflow.

3. Limited productivity reports

Zenefits native time tracking has limited productivity reports, including:

  • Summary: Overview of employee locations, total work hours, leave and vacation tracker data, meal breaks, paid time, etc.
  • Hours: Breakdown of the number of hours spent on each work project.
  • Project codes: Overview of all the projects your team is working on.
  • Meal breaks: Measure of missed and approved breaks.

This reporting method is very basic and gives you a superficial overview of your team’s productivity. And because these reports are based on manually tracked hourly employee time, this performance review is unreliable to begin with.

Clearly, Zenefits time tracking has some major limitations. A smarter choice would be to use a Zenefits alternative with all the robust tracking features. 

Next, let’s explore a better time tracking alternative.

Time Doctor: A better alternative to Zenefits time tracking

time doctor - better for the organization

Time Doctor is a dedicated time tracking and productivity management tool that enables managers and employees to track employee work hours accurately. 

The tool is used by several companies, including a small business like Thrive Market and a large enterprise like Ericsson, to boost employee productivity

With a list of comprehensive features and integrations, Time Doctor is the ideal tool to track time, calculate billable hours, and enhance overall work efficiency. The tool also has a robust Android mobile app.

Let’s explore some of Time Doctor’s important features.

Key features

A. Manual and automatic time tracking

Time Doctor offers an interactive and silent time tracker to accurately record your team’s work hours.

With the tool’s manual or interactive time tracker, an employee can start time tracking using a timer when they’re working and stop it when they finish or take a break.

time doctor track time

Time Doctor also offers an automatic timesheet feature that starts tracking time when an employee switches on their desktop. The timer runs in the background and doesn’t interfere with the task they’re working on.

B. Idle time tracking

Time Doctor’s idle time tracking feature shows when an employee remains idle during work hours. 

The tool records the duration of time that an employee is idle by detecting their keystrokes and mouse movements. After a set time limit, the tool nudges the employee to resume work through an idle time pop-up alert.

idle time popup alert

Note: Time Doctor isn’t a keylogger. It only detects whether the employee clicked any keys or moved the mouse.

C. Work schedules

Time Doctor’s work schedule feature lets you create shifts for employees and track their work hours for each shift. 

You can also track if an employee started their shift on time and completed their minimum working hours. Based on the time tracked, Time Doctor automatically assigns your team attendance statuses, including ‘Absent,’ ‘Present,’ ‘Late,’ or ‘Partially Absent.’

work schedule absent present

D. Screencasts (Optional)

Time Doctor allows you to take screencasts of employees’ desktop screens to spot unproductive activities.

The tool enables you to take screenshots after regular time intervals of 3, 15, or 30 minutes.

Time Doctor screencasts

Note: Admins and managers can blur or delete screencasts of an employee or a group of employees to protect their privacy.

E. Project and task management

Time Doctor lets you create projects and tasks and assign them to your team or an individual employee. You can also organize tasks using the five default folders by Time Doctor or by projects for better workflow. 

The five default task folders include:

  • Permanent tasks: Assigned by admins that can’t be marked as completed.
  • Current tasks: That an employee is currently working on.
  • Next tasks: That an employee will have to work on next.
  • Future tasks: Which an employee will work on in the future.
  • Completed tasks: That are marked as completed.
Project and Tasks

Note: Only admins can assign projects to team members.

F. Productivity ratings

Time Doctor allows you to set productivity ratings for each website and application based on whether they’re work-related.

The different productivity ratings are:

  • Productive
  • Unproductive
  • Neutral
  • Unrated

For instance, you can rate social media apps like Facebook as ‘Unproductive’ and Microsoft Teams as ‘Productive’ for your team.

Time Doctor productivity ratings

G. Productivity reports

Time Doctor can generate various productivity reports depending on your team’s time tracking data. You can easily spot employee productivity patterns from these reports and establish accountability. 

Here are the different types of productivity reports:

  • Activity summary report: Access data on an employee’s active, unproductive, productive, manual, and mobile time for a selected time range.
  • Timeline report: View an employee’s work hours and break timings. 
  • Hours tracked report: Display your team’s work hour data during a selected date range.
  • Projects & tasks report: View how much time an employee spends on different tasks and projects.
  • Custom export report: Customize employee information in a report and export it as a PDF, XLS, or CSV file.
  • Web & app usage report: Break down the various websites and apps employees visited during work hours.
Time Doctor Detailed Productivity Reports

H. Payroll management

Time Doctor offers advanced payroll features that allow you to pay salaries directly through popular payment gateways like Gusto, Paypal, and Wise

The tool also lets you customize the employee payroll system based on payment methods, pay period, currency, and rates.

Time Doctor payroll management

I. Chrome extension

Time Doctor offers a Chrome extension that integrates with over 60 premium tools. 

Some of them include:

  • Project management software like Trello, Zoho Projects, Asana, etc.
  • CRM software such as Hubspot, Pipedrive, Salesforce, etc.
  • Microsoft Office 365 apps, including Word and Excel.


Time Doctor offers a 14-day free trial (no credit card required). Its paid plans start at $7/user per month.

Learn more about Time Doctor’s full list of features here.

Customer ratings

  • Capterra: 4.5/5 (400+ reviews)
  • G2: 4.4/5 (270+ reviews)

Key takeaways

Zenefits is a convenient HR solution to streamline your business’s benefits administration, payroll, and scheduling.

However, its native time tracking features are limited and may not be able to measure your team’s productivity and work hours precisely.

A dedicated time tracking software like Time Doctor can help you manage your team’s work efficiency, improve employee engagement, and get actionable time tracking insights to streamline your work.

Sign-up with Time Doctor’s 14-day free trial and experience the best time tracking features today!

View a free demo of Time Doctor

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