The Tricky Side of Time & Attendance – and How Tech Can Help

The ability to accurately record the time employees spend at work is essential to any well-run business. Not only do you need to know who’s working when from an organisational and staffing perspective, you also need this data to drive payroll.

In some cases, this process is straight forward. If your employees all work in the same location, you can use biometric devices or key cards to automatically log when they start and finish. And if they all have set hours, their attendance can be recorded automatically via T&A software – all the manager has to do is record any absence or discrepancies.

But what happens if your business relies on complex and ever-changing shift patterns? Or if your staff are free to choose when and where they work?

T&A challenges

For countless businesses across a range of industries, staffing is complicated and unpredictable. Many businesses have to carefully balance supply with an ever-changing demand, leading to flexible employment arrangements, complex shift patterns, and regular overtime.   

In sectors such as catering, care, retail, delivery, and the emergency services, it’s difficult to plan exactly when staff will be required and for how long.

To cope with this, many businesses rely on manual processes, paper timesheets, and spreadsheets to record time and attendance. This often leads to inaccurate data, as spontaneous overtime and last-minute changes can be difficult to record.

The rise of the mobile workforce

On top of this, modern technology is changing the way traditionally office-based businesses operate, allowing them to move towards remote teams and flexible working conditions. Instead of being told where and when to work, employees are given the freedom to choose for themselves.

This move brings benefits for everyone concerned. Not only do remote employees tend to be happier and more productive, but organisations can reduce overheads while gaining access to a broader talent pool.

But despite these benefits, there are also plenty of challenges for the employer. How do you accurately record time and attendance when you don’t know where or when your employees are working?

The solution? Power to your people

For businesses whose staff work in different places at different times, expensive biometric devices and technical hardware are not a viable option, nor are systems that rely on recording absence and discrepencies only.

What these businesses need is a process of recording time and attendance that is easy to use, accurate, and mobile. The best way to do this is to devolve responsibility from managers and HR to the employees themselves. After all, they may be the only ones who know exactly when they started and finished their shift.

Instead of logging into clunky time and attendance software before or after a shift, employees can clock in and out at the exact point in time via their smartphones, using apps that require zero training or prior knowledge to use.

Once captured, this data is then sent automatically to their manager, who can handle approvals and manage requests instantly via their mobile app. Upon approval, the T&A data is sent directly to payroll for processing.

The entire process – from recording time and attendance, through approval, and on to payroll – is instant, accurate, and seamless.

It reduces the time, effort and cost of dealing with paper timesheets. It also reduces manual input errors, resulting in more accurate T&A and payroll data. And by devolving the responsibility for capturing time and attendance to employees, it frees up HR staff or managers to focus on more pressing issues.

Employees have the flexibility to take control of their working day, while still allowing organisations to monitor time and attendance, remain compliant, and meet their responsibilities.

Is there a trust issue?

Some businesses may be reluctant to hand over the responsibility for capturing T&A data to employees, due to perceived issues around trust. What happens if employees fiddle the system and log more hours than they work?

There are ways around this. Remote workers, for example, could be required to log into a VPN while working or track their progress towards goals via task management software. Ultimately, the shift towards remote working will force managers to let go of their urge to micromanage and monitor and to instead focus more on outcomes and results. We should see this as a positive step.

To gain a clear picture of where your staff are working, geolocation tracking can tell you the exact location where they clocked in and out. By using geofencing, you can restrict their ability to clock in and out to designated locations.

In truth, work will always involve a huge amount of trust – it has always been that way, regardless of where your staff are based. If you trust your employees to build your products, represent your brand, and engage with your customers, you should also trust them to log their time and attendance data accurately.

Find out more about time and attendance in People First.


Nicholas Edwards - http://www.praguecopywriter.com

Nicholas Edwards is a freelance writer and editor based in Prague, the Czech Republic. When he's not helping local businesses master the English language, he loves writing about the future of work for People First. 

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