Attendance tracking – how to track and check attendance

Marija Kojic

Last updated on: June 29, 2023

Attendance tracking data is useful for a number of individuals – managers, employees, employers, supervisors, accountants, but also teachers, students, and their parents.

There are 2 main reasons why tracking attendance is vital:

  • It reduces absenteeism – when you know your attendance is tracked, you’ll aim to limit your unjustified absences.
  • It provides data that shows how productive you are – when you track attendance, you’ll be able to pinpoint the days you spent working.

The most common types of attendance tracking are employee attendance tracking, student attendance tracking, and tracking attendance at events  – and here are the answers to the most common questions related to those topics:

How do I track employee attendance?

Tracking employees attendance is important for a number of reasons:

  • Supervisors can identify and address issues and inconsistencies in employee attendance
  • Supervisors and managers get a straightforward account of employee working hours
  • Managers get a way to create viable schedules based on realistic employee time
  • Employees can easily work remotely and show evidence of their work hours
  • Employees always get paid properly and payroll becomes easier
  • It gets easier to request and be given time-off
  • It gets easier to schedule vacations

There are also several ways to track employee attendance in your company or small business:

Mobile attendance system

This presence tracking method for employees involves a GPS system which tracks and confirms employee hours. Popular with people whose jobs involve a lot of field work, such as truck drivers, construction workers, etc.

Card swipe system

This method is actually an updated variation of the now outdated punch card system.

In the punch card system, employees would bring their time cards to work and have them punched by hand or machine upon arrival and departure.

punch card

On the other hand, in the card swipe system, employee swipes their ID cards to clock in and clock out, and this data is automatically transferred to a computer that automatically calculates employee attendance.

Entering time in a spreadsheet

Entering time in a spreadsheet is a manual way of tracking presence – employees enter their start time, end time, lunch start time, lunch end time, regular hours, overtime hours, total hours, PTO, earnings, and other relevant data a simple spreadsheet template.

weekly timesheet

Depending on the company requirements, employees will usually get to fill out their spreadsheets on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis.

Some companies store this data electronically, but some insist on printing out the spreadsheets.

Alternatively, employees (or the HR department) can simply mark who attended work, and who was on sick leave, personal leave, or vacation instead, in an excel employee attendance sheet.

Weekly attendance

Employee attendance app

This presence tracking method involves an employee attendance tracker or daily attendance app that lets you track your attendance by:

1. Clocking in to an app upon arrival to work. You start the timer and work during this time period until you fill out your daily norm.

clockify start

2. Clocking out upon departure from work. You stop the timer and add the exact hours you’ve worked today to a list of daily time entries

clockify stop

The term “attendance tracking” usually associates people to a certain “location” – the employee arrives at a location when he/she performs work, and his mere presence confirms his attendance. But, an employee attendance app lets you confirm your attendance at work by tracking the exact time you spend working.

Moreover, an employee attendance app for Android or iOS works as a mobile attendance system as you can easily log hours for your field work, so employees who work on the go can effectively use it as well.

clockify ios

💡Clockify pro tip

Looking for a reliable attendance tracking app to handle employee attendance? Clockify is a free time and attendance management system which has everything you need.

How can I check my attendance?

In relation to the previously listed ways to track employee attendance, there are several ways employees can check their employee attendance record:

Mobile attendance system – if you’re using an attendance app for Android or iOS as your mobile attendance system, you can simply log in to check your attendance for a particular day or week, wherever you are.

Card swipe system – your attendance data is used for payroll and other documentation, and you’ll likely have limited access to the computer system that holds it.

Entering time in a spreadsheet – considering you’re usually the one entering your attendance in an employee attendance sheet, you’ll have access to this data until you hand it in for approval to your supervisor.

Employee attendance app – you’re the one entering your own clock in and clock out time in the app so you can check this data whenever you want to. You’ll always be able to check your employee attendance report, but already approved time periods may be locked for editing to ensure data consistency across documentation.

locked time entries

How do I check student attendance?

Attendance plays an important part in education – students who attend classes regularly have a higher chance of succeeding in school and becoming a valued member of the school community. It is also important for tracking time and progress when homeschooling.

This process plays an important part in increasing the student attendance rate of your school – it gives students a sense of responsibility that encourages them to attend classes and reduces absences.

Attendance tracking data for students also lets you analyze your school’s attendance statistics, compare the results with other schools, and find suitable ways to increase student presence at your school in the future.

There are several popular methods of student attendance tracking:

The verbal check

This is the old-school approach to checking attendance in the classroom.

The teacher calls the student’s name, and puts a checkmark (✓) or plus (+) if the student verbally confirms presence, and a cross mark (x) or minus (-) if no one replies, implying the student’s absence.

verbal check

After a certain time period, usually at the end of the school term, the signs are counted and the teacher gives a remark or a grade signifying the student’s attendance record.

The problem with this method is that it’s time-consuming, it’s easier to miscount and make errors, and it takes time away from the beginning or end of class.

Class attendance sheet

This is an extended variation of the verbal check approach.

The teacher hands out an attendance sheet and the present students sign their names.

class attendance sheet

Some teachers then write this data down in a notebook, but more of them document this data in an excel sheet.

The teacher usually keeps a parallel journal with the students’ names where he/she puts checkmarks/pluses or cross marks/minuses after each class, indicating the students’ presence/absence.

Again, the signs are counted after a time period, and the teacher gives a remark or a grade signifying the student’s attendance record.

This method is less time consuming than the verbal check method, considering that the class attendance sheet usually circulates around the class as the teacher delivers the lecture.

But, this attendance tracking method also offers more chances for student deceit – considering that the teacher isn’t always paying attention to the attendance sheet, students can sign in their absent colleagues as well if they want to.

Attendance activities for students

This method is less an attendance tracking method than it is a way to increase student attendance. So, in order to minimize unjustified absences, you can:

  • create a welcoming environment for students, one that helps engage students, teachers, and students’ families by establishing a pleasant school environment
  • use attendance tracking data collected through one of the previously listed methods to analyze the types of classes that have the highest percentage of absences, and address the issues you identify
  • hold a special class dedicated to the importance and benefits of regular attendance, with a special emphasis on better school performance

This side method is usually used in conjunction with other listed attendance tracking methods for students.

Attendance app for students

This method involves a student attendance tracking software which aims to help you automate the attendance checking process. Student attendance trackers and online systems for students usually let you generate Reports that show:

  • student attendance by student – with total time spent on classes that day, and total time spent on that subject that week.
weekly report grouped by student
  • student attendance by subject – with total time spent on classes that day, and total time spent on that subject that week.
weekly report grouped by subject

The prevailing advantage of this method is that it gives insights to students about their absences and total time spent in classes, but also to parents interested to know how often their children actually attend classes.

💡Clockify pro tip

Now that you know how to check student attendance, we suggest you check out our student guide to productivity to learn how to make the most of regular class attendance if you’re a student.

How do you track attendance at an event?

Apart from tracking employee attendance at work and student attendance at school, you’ll also want to track presence at various events, in order to:

  • understand your target audience’s interests – if a certain topic doesn’t gather a large audience, you should aim to find an interesting spin to the same topic next time, or minimize similar topics in the future
  • address and adjust your event budget – the second point is linked to the first point. If you find that a certain topic doesn’t bring in the audience you’re counting on, or that many people leave these events earlier, then it might be time to revise the budget and drop said topic from the repertoire.
  • award professional or educational credit – seminars are important for both the students and certain professionals as they serve to enhance knowledge on a relevant subject. In most cases, seminars carry credit, and professionals and students need to earn a certain amount of credit during the course of a year or semester. If they don’t, professionals risk losing the membership or license within their official association, and students risk lower grades.

Now that you know the benefits of this practice, here are several efficient ways to track attendance at an event:

Event check-in app

An event check-in app is designed to help students, employees, and all guests check in easy – a special variant of these apps are meeting attendance apps that track who’s at a meeting, but also track the amount of time an individual spends on these meetings.

Online event registration service

An event registration software is a specialized variation of an event check-in app – they help event organizers sell tickets for events, and then track attendance based on these tickets. When ticket holders hand over their tickets at the entrance of the event their attendance is noted. Suitable for large events when the event organizer is mainly interested to know the number of attendance (but not necessarily their identity).

Scanning QR codes

This method provides a simple approach to handling attendance tracking at events. The event participants use a QR code generator to generate a personal code, and then the event organizer uses a QR code scanner in order to scan the QR codes of event participants as they arrive. These codes can be easily generated using any of the best QR code generators.

Clockify code

The code scanner then makes a list of the codes it scanned and their respective owners.

Additional event check-in ideas

The best way to increase the number of event attendees (and make sure you have someone to track in the first place) is to confirm people are fully aware of the check-in process.

In order to make sure of that, you should:

  • send a timely pre-event email listing all check-in details – it should include details of the event such as date, time, location, and a comprehensive “what to know” list. Also, make sure you clarify whether the official check-in process at the event will involve pre-registration, on-site registration, or a self-check-in solution, such as self-check-in kiosks.
  • limit the paperwork – in this day of age, it’s outdated to insist on paper documentation. Moreover, it’s inefficient, time-consuming, and makes a poor reflection on the brand you’re advertising through this event. So, make sure you digitize the event check-in process as much as you can, in order to speed everything up, increase accuracy, but also be more eco-friendly.
  • make the check-in progression logical and clear – use straightforward signs to guide participants/guests to the check-in places. Design an attractive check-in desk – you may do this by making the desk topic-oriented (e.g. include prop medicaments and medical cabinets for a medical seminar),  but also by using bright colors, statement pieces, and similar eye-catching detail.

In the end, you’ll increase the likelihood that people will attend your event, but also make them feel comfortable enough to come back next time.


Attendance tracking is vital in several settings, including the office, school, various events, and seminars, but also instances where you perform field work, or work from home.

You can analyze attendance tracking reports and records, in order to single out unjustified absences, but also consider ways to increase attendance in the future.

As with most tasks today, in order to track and check employee and student attendance, as well as track attendance at events, it’s best to turn to software. An attendance tracker will help you easily track presence, as well as sort, group, organize, and analyze this data.

Author: MarijaKojic

Marija Kojic is a productivity writer who's always researching about various productivity techniques and time management tips in order to find the best ones to write about. She can often be found testing and writing about apps meant to enhance the workflow of freelancers, remote workers, and regular employees. Appeared in G2 Crowd Learning Hub, The Good Men Project, and Pick the Brain, among other places.

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