Why and how to track overtime hours for your employees

Julia Gifford 14.06.2024
Illustration of a Dali-like clock

Overtime can be a delicate matter, and both employees and organizations deserve accurate data tracking, hence, understanding how to track overtime is essential. Reliable overtime monitoring ensures a better understanding of workflow and fair compensation.

Manual methods like spreadsheets can work, but dedicated productivity apps offer a more efficient solution. These tools go beyond overtime, providing insights, reports, and scheduling assistance for a comprehensive view of your team’s productivity.

Want to get the most out of your time?
Try DeskTime for free!

Try free for 14 days · No credit card required.

By signing up, you agree to our terms and privacy policy.

Try DeskTime

Whether it’s a regular trend or happens only rarely, it’s important to know how to track overtime effectively in your organization. Overtime hours are a particularly sensitive piece of data – employees won’t be happy if you miss their hard work. From an organization’s or manager’s perspective, you want to track the exact time worked to make sure you’re not overpaying. 

Naturally, you might be wondering why your organization should track overtime and what’s the best way to do it. In this article, we will take a deep dive into the importance of accurate overtime monitoring and the tools that can deliver it.

Why should you track overtime

Tracking overtime serves the same purpose as time tracking in general: to monitor and manage time spent on tasks and projects.

Here’s why overtime monitoring is particularly important:

  • Workload management: Tracking overtime provides data that can indicate workload issues. For example, if your staff can’t complete assigned tasks within regular hours, overtime tracking data can highlight these challenges.
  • Ensures fair compensation: In some organizations, overtime hours come with added compensation. Accurate overtime tracking ensures that employees receive appropriate pay for their effort.
  • Productivity insights: Overtime data can also provide insights into productivity trends. For example, it can help identify whether some employees consistently exceed expectations or struggle to meet them. It can also reveal how work performance correlates with an increase in hours worked.

How to track overtime: doing it manually vs. using an app

There are two main approaches to tracking overtime: using dedicated software or doing it manually. Generally, using software means the tracking is done automatically in the background through an app as long as an employee is logged in. In the case of manual tracking, it requires user input – either using a dedicated Excel sheet, a physical logbook, or something similar. 

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of these approaches to overtime tracking.

Overtime monitoring with an app


  • Accuracy: Generally, apps with automatic trackers capture all work activities, from time spent on emails to working with software, so there is no guesswork involved in determining whether something qualifies as overtime or not.
  • No extra effort: Employees don’t need to manually input data, such as filling in timesheets, and can better focus on their actual work.
  • Data insights: Apps capable of monitoring overtime usually provide additional data insights, such as detailed reports, which can help an organization better schedule and optimize workflow.


  • Extra costs: Most apps will cost you something.
  • Learning curve: Depending on the app, there might be a bit of a learning curve for both the organization and its employees in adopting it.

Manual tracking


  • No extra costs: If you are opting for something like spreadsheets, this probably won’t cost you any extra since most organizations are already using Microsoft Office or a similar alternative.


  • Lack of accuracy: Manual overtime tracking relies on employees doing all the input. This is prone to all kinds of human errors, leading to inaccurate or misleading reporting, which can result in unreliable data.
  • Extra disruptive workload: In general, manual overtime tracking adds another task for employees. It can be time-consuming and actually hinder effective workflow.

Best approach to overtime monitoring 

Overall, the best way to track overtime hours depends on your organization’s needs and preferences. Automatic app trackers offer accuracy, efficiency, and valuable insights but come at a cost. Manual tracking is free and simple but prone to human errors and can be time-consuming. 

Consider how prevalent overtime is in your organization and what level of precision and extra insights you want when tracking it. Plus, take into account how much time and budget you are willing to allocate for this.

How to track overtime hours: best implementation practices

So,  your organization has decided that overtime tracking is necessary. Let’s look at the key considerations to make the implementation process as smooth and easy as possible for both you and your employees.

1. Planning: define your needs

First, you should have a good understanding of why your business needs overtime tracking and what you want to achieve with it. Are you starting from scratch and haven’t previously used any form of overtime tracking before? Or perhaps, you want to improve your current tracking method? In any case, you should have a clear understanding of which solution you need, which particular piece of software to use, and why.

2. Communication and employee support

To ensure a smooth transition, keep your employees informed. Explain the reasons behind implementing overtime tracking and highlight the benefits for them. Emphasize how this system will ensure accurate tracking of their overtime hours.

When introducing new tools, provide proper training on how to use them. Offer resources to help troubleshoot any issues they may encounter. This will minimize disruptions and make the implementation process more manageable for everyone.

3. Evaluate and gather feeback

Once your overtime tracking solution is up and running, it’s important to assess its effectiveness. Does it meet your initial goals and deliver the functionalities your business needs? For example, if you are using time tracking software, are there any additional adjustments that could be made, or some customization options your organization could benefit from?

Throughout this process, try to actively gather feedback from your employees. Encourage them to share their experiences and suggestions for improvement. This feedback loop is essential to ensure the system functions smoothly and meets everyone’s needs in the long run.

Best apps for overtime monitoring

As a bonus, we have also handpicked the top 3 apps that do the overtime monitoring for you. These apps will eliminate the effort of doing the task manually and the risk of human errors. Plus, they offer additional features to enhance overall work efficiency for your organization.

1. DeskTime

DeskTime is a comprehensive productivity app that includes time and project tracking, productivity evaluation, and detailed reports. DeskTime is perfect for both remote and in-office teams.


  • A free plan (with limited features) is available for solo users 
  • Intuitive, user friendly interface and overall accessible learning curve
  • Integrates with the most popular project management tools such as Google Calendar, Outlook Calendar, Trello, Asana, and Jira

Want to prevent overworking?

Prioritize and set healthy boundaries!

Try DeskTime!

2. Harvest

Harvest is a time tracking app that can track your team’s overtime hours, and is designed for easy creation of automatic invoices.


  • Integrates with popular accounting software solutions such as Xero and QuickBooks
  • App supports various platforms, including Mac, PC, iOS, and Android
  • Offers budget monitoring functionality

3. RescueTime

RescueTime is a time-tracking app with an emphasis on boosting personal productivity. Track your overtime hours and keep an eye on your productivity levels.


  • Free version with limited features available
  • Built-in assistant to help with daily workflow
  • Includes features like focus sessions to block distracting websites

Don’t let overtime slip through your fingers

Overtime monitoring is a no-brainer if it’s prevalent in your organization. You want precise data on it to understand the overall workflow and ensure no one gets shortchanged.

In terms of how to approach it, you might think “we will do just fine with the good old spreadsheets” – but the modern workplace efficiency paradigm is shifting towards wider use of productivity apps for a reason. Overtime monitoring is a case in point – while you can get by with manual tracking, dedicated productivity apps can do the job more reliably and efficiently.

Keep in mind that tracking overtime is just one aspect of monitoring productivity. Consider a more comprehensive approach for your organization. Productivity apps can provide additional performance insights, detailed reports, and assistance with scheduling. This will give you a complete understanding of what your employees are doing and how, helping you identify areas for improvement.

Did you find this article useful? Give it a clap!


Psst! You can clap more than once if you really loved it 🙂