Features | 08.21.2016

Time And Attendance Management In Digital Age: It’s about time

Traditional models of keeping track of workforce time and attendance were simply a matter of punching-in and punching-out. Straightforward and methodical, these were ideal for an environment that required employees to clock 8-hour shifts that began and ended at the same time every day.

It’s a vastly different world today, requiring a vastly different time and attendance system. The way people work, the kind of work they do and whether they do it from the same place as you do, play a role in how you can capture their time and attendance.

Let us go back in time and understand why time and attendance systems came into existence in the first place. This was an era when people were migrating from villages and towns to new cities, seeking better-paying jobs and more secure employment. Workforce management systems were required to protect the interests of employees and to create a guideline for employers to prevent exploitation. As most industries were manufacturing units, with an assembly line system, it was easy to monitor productivity, and man-hours were measurable and quantifiable. At the end of the week, it was simply a matter of adding up the numbers.

Quality versus Quantity

In today’s digital era, productivity isn’t about quantity (number of hours at office), but quality (how the time at work is spent). It’s about the value that an individual brings which adds to an organization’s bottom-line. How do you quantify that output against a 40-hour week scale? Spending one minute on writing a code that saves an organization billions of dollars just cannot be viewed through the myopic scope of number of hours in a day.

Moreover, organizations are spread across geographies, and fluid policies such as work-from-home and flexi-hours make it increasingly difficult to capture productive hours.

To make matters worse, there are the unavoidable distractions at work, whether working from home or office. I checked my mail, updated my status on Facebook and read a few links that I came across, all while I was supposed to be working on this piece. Imagine this scenario multiplied by the number of employees, every day of the week, week after week, month after month. The amount of time lost in doing non-productive work (official or personal) can cause your organization to bleed financially.

Just capturing time for the sake of payrolls or marking attendance is not enough, for today’s digital and knowledge economy. Your organization needs a time and attendance management system that will help you not only capture data for compliance but also to increase employee engagement and ensure that your most important asset of the organization is utilized efficiently. Time and Attendance system should not be a silo solution; an ideal solution would be a tool that captures data for time & attendance but can also be used by HR for driving employee engagement and productivity.

Is your Time and Attendance System Outdated?

Sure, your organization has its methods of keeping track. Congratulations if your workforce management has evolved beyond attendance registers, paper cards, Bundy clocks and paper leave applications. While these seem to be an easy (and cheaper) way to keep track, there are hidden inventory costs involved.

Also, just think about the time required for someone else to manually add up the hours. Wouldn’t you want to dispense with any staff, skilled or not, who could, in all likelihood, commit human errors while meticulously calculating employee working hours?

Then again, perhaps you use computerized timesheets. But these can be fudged – employees can allocate more hours than they’ve actually worked, use office hours for personal work, take longer breaks during work hours and do excessive overtime. While it might not seem like a significant problem, these minutes and hours can quickly pile up. Not only is that a financial liability, it is also wastage of productive hours.

Automated Time and Attendance Systems – Tried and Tested Methods

Many organizations use automated time and attendance system, these could be in the form of electronic tags, barcode badges, magnetic strip cards, bio-metric systems (that read hand shapes, fingerprints, or use facial recognition) or touch screens. Employees can use these themselves as they enter or leave their work area, or the software works independently, clocking in productive time. These also act as a neat security solution limiting access to the offices, but they have their own challenges – it does not apply to employees that work remotely (more and more people do that now) and it still captures time at office and not time at work.

If the automated time and attendance systems can capture data about time at work and how that is spent then that would be the ideal solution. The captured data can be transferred to a centralized computer that keeps track of employee attendance, actual working time and the resulting output. A dashboard allows managers to view time versus productivity at a glance.

This can not only help meet compliance requirements but also identify your top achievers, replicate their trends across the team, drive employee engagement while empowering you with the knowledge required to help employees.

What would have traditionally taken hours, if not days, and would have still provided unreliable data, is now possible in real time and with accuracy, at the touch of a button with the new time and attendance systems that capture time at office and time at work.

At the first glance, installing an automated time and attendance system might seem like an expensive proposition. But over time, an automated time and attendance model will smooth-en over previous limitations and provide real insights, in real time, in your timekeeping function. Today, an automated workforce management system is an integral and necessary component of your organization’s management function.

The many Advantages of an Automated Time and Attendance System

We’ve already established that the old ways of working are long gone. Simply adapting an old system onto the new environment doesn’t do justice to your employees. There has to be a better way of engaging with them, and giving them the liberty of discovering their productive hours for themselves.

Organizations have to remember that while attendance is important; time isn’t. Well, in a way it still is. Employees do have to clock their 40 hours every week, but they do it at their own time. Today, individual contribution takes precedence over assembly line production. With seamless connectivity, multiple locations and varying timelines, it becomes even more imperative for organizations to adopt a time and attendance system that doesn’t bog it down, but rather frees it from the very limitations it seeks to escape.

There are innumerable advantages to installing an automated time and attendance system in your organization. At a glance, these are:

  • Increased Accuracy: Accurate and reliable data means an organization is better equipped to meet compliance, capture productivity, allocate and manage resources, and perform other human resource functions seamlessly.
  • Better Productivity: Automated process reduces man-hours in collating and analysing data, and ensures correct talent use.
  • Considerable Savings: Simply eliminating the need for manual processing provides considerable savings.
  • Data Accessibility: An automated dashboard system, by bypassing the HR person, gives easy data access to managers and employees themselves.
  • Empower Employees: Having access to their own data gives employees more control and they are more enthusiastic about their work and new ideas.

To summarize, for today’s digital and knowledge economy, you need a system that will capture attendance and time at work (and not time at office). WFM