How to Track Employee Absences

4 ways to track employee attendance outside of an Excel spreadsheet

| Updated: May 25, 2022


When you’re responsible for a team of hourly workers, the last thing you want is to find out about an employee’s absence after they are already supposed to be onsite.

The best absence tracking systems provide immediate notifications along with a way to access historical absence data. An Excel spreadsheet is good for keeping track of some information, but it can’t meet your needs for real-time employee absence management.

Why Track Employee Attendance and Absences?

Keeping track of employee attendance and absences is important for making sure you know who is working and when, and is essential to maintaining workplace safety.

Last-minute absences don’t give you enough opportunity to find a substitute and can cause other employees to have to fill in the gaps. Overworked employees are more likely to have accidents; According to the National Safety Council, overexertion is a leading cause of work-related injuries.

4 Ways to Track Employee Absences (Besides Excel)

Since there’s always a lot going on in your workplace, you need an automated solution for managing employee absences.

Excel files are great for listing the dates employees are absent, but they rely on manual data entry. An Excel file can’t provide you with instant notification of an employee’s absence, it doesn’t help you take action quickly to find a backup or reorganize a shift.

Thankfully, there are other tools. Here are some of the available options:

Centralized telephone number

Having a centralized phone number for absences allows you to direct all call to one place, rather than bombarding multiple supervisors with calls or texts. Whether that phone number is staffed with a real person or an automated voicemail system, someone still has to relay that absence information from the employees to the managers, which can be costly and time-consuming.

Personal text or messaging app

Using a text or group messaging app such as Whatsapp is an easy way for employees to call in sick or request time off. Although not all employees can easily access an app, and personal texts can leave out important information, such as the purpose for an absence or when an employee will return to work. Capturing absences over text also lacks reporting capability.

Facebook group

A Facebook group offers another way for employees to let their team know they’ll be out, but it may be harder to use in practice. Not every employee has a Facebook account, and some may be unable or unwilling to create one. In addition, a Facebook account offers no way to create reports based on historical data. You also have to manually add and remove access as people join or leave the team.

TeamSense Text-Based Call In

TeamSense’s absence tracking software gives employees an easy, no-fuss way to call in sick and request time off. Employees don’t have to download any apps or worry about remembering login information. All they do is send a text and select from a series of options to report their absence. As soon as an employee calls in, you get notified and can take action to ensure proper shift coverage.

With TeamSense, you also have easy access to historical absence information in the event of a dispute. As an HR Manager at a durable goods manufacturer commented, “The solution is black and white, no more arguments on who said what to whom and when!”


Comparison: Excel vs. Four Other Employee Absence Trackers

Automatic notificationsNo app download requiredReporting CapabilityEase of use for managers and employees


Facebook groupYesNoNoNo
Personal text or messaging appYesNoNo
Centralized phone number
TeamSense Call In


‍Simplify Absence Management with TeamSense

When you need to ensure smooth business operations around the clock, you can’t afford to rely on spreadsheets and other manual absence tracking systems.

With real-time notifications and automatic absence documentation, TeamSense’s text-based employee call in system allows you to plan the workday and keep your operations up and running.

Melanie Haniph is an HR content writer and talent management expert. In addition to her experience leading HR initiatives for large and small organizations, she writes on a range of talent management topics for senior executive, HR, and jobseeker audiences.

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