Often times, we focus on the benefits of tracking employee time — for the employer. Of course, accurate time records do offer employers many benefits: easier, faster and more accurate payroll processing, more efficient workforce administration, better control over labor costs, and so forth.
What we may sometimes overlook, though, are the benefits time tracking offers to employees.
Some time back, I brought you the story of the Florida Department of Corrections, who were facing significant potential sanctions from the Florida state legislature for apparent “foot-dragging” over installing an automated time and attendance system.
On a news site reporting the story, visitor “Kathy” opined that the new system was “just another way to make prison workers miserable.”
Sadly, all too often, when an employer announces a new time tracking system, employees are like “Kathy.” They assume time tracking is only for the benefit of the employer and represents nothing but an annoyance for workers.
Employee resistance can slow adoption of a new system, reduce the time and cost savings you realize from the system, or even — if unchecked — scuttle the project entirely. For your new time and attendance system implementation to succeed, it’s imperative your employees be on board.
So how can you encourage your employees to get excited about a new time and attendance system?
We are the champions
In the example of the Florida Department of Corrections, I was gratified that several other commenters identified themselves as Department employees and said they were looking forward to the new system. They identified problems with the existing manual system, which they believed the new automated system would help solve.
Employee “champions” can be crucial when you’re implementing a new system. In this case, these “champions” already understood why a new system was a good thing for the Department, and were willing to go on record publicly in support of the change. Employees who are enthusiastic and positive about the change can go a long way toward neutralizing the effect of any nay-sayers.
How do you cultivate “champions” for your new system? By letting employees know what benefits the system will bring to them.
It’s not enough to simply stand up in front of your workforce and declare the new system will help everyone, without offering any proof of that claim. To convince a group of skeptical employees, you need specific, credible examples. Of course, in order to articulate the benefits for employees, you need to know what the benefits are.
So, let’s take a closer look at three key employee benefits of better time tracking:
Your employees want to know: what’s in it for me?
Benefit 1: More accurate paychecks
Few things are more irritating for employees than to get shorted on their paycheck. Correcting the problem takes time and effort. This leads us to the first major benefit for employees: an improved time tracking system increases paycheck accuracy.
More accurate time records will result in more accurate paychecks. Even a simple upgrade from potentially illegible handwritten records to clear, machine-printed stamps on a time card can reduce the payroll error rate. Recording exact start and stop times with a punch clock or computer (instead of jotting down estimates on a handwritten timesheet or manual spreadsheet) helps ensure employees are paid more accurately for their actual work time.
Moving up to an automated system increases accuracy even further. The system itself calculates work hours, eliminating clerical errors. Data is exported from the time tracking system to the payroll system, eliminating data entry errors.
Result: more accurate paychecks and happier employees.
Benefit 2: Increased fairness
A second major annoyance for employees is when they arrive on time and work a full day — only to see other, less conscientious employees apparently get away with long lunches, late arrivals and early departures. This can lead to morale problems for those of your employees who do play by the rules — and if left unabated, can create a culture of cheating on your time slips.
Of course, this can be frustrating for you as an employer, too! But it’s difficult to police all your entrances and exits every minute of every day.
Enter your time tracking system. By accurately recording the time each employee arrives and leaves, the system will help highlight those employees who return a full day’s work for a full day’s pay… and those who are trying to game the system.
A biometric solution will eliminate the practice of “buddy punching,” where one employee asks another to clock in or out on the first employee’s behalf. Acroprint offers a range of computer-based biometric systems, so you’re sure to find one that meets your needs.
Result: conscientious employees perceive their diligence is recognized. Slackers are identified and can be “encouraged” to shape up.
Benefit 3: Improved job satisfaction
Speaking as an employee myself, I can say with confidence most of us don’t mind working the occasional bit of overtime. But putting in hours of overtime virtually every day for weeks or even months can eventually wear down even the most enthusiastic worker. Especially when you’re not sure your hard work is being recognized.
Sometimes overtime is necessary to address an unusual situation. But when most every employee in a work group is putting in extra hours nearly every day, this should send up red flags to management… unless you don’t know about it because your time tracking method isn’t up to snuff.
Prolonged or excessive overtime is a major contributor to employee stress. It can lead to decreased productivity, lowered morale and even physical illness. Worst of all, your best employees may jump ship, looking for a less stressful workplace.
An accurate time tracking system, correctly used, will alert you to excessive overtime situations. Many software-based systems will even send you proactive alerts when employees are approaching overtime. This enables you to investigate and deal with the issue.
For example: perhaps your investigation reveals one work group has been swamped by too many “urgent” projects that all need to be done right now. They’re working late every night, long after everyone else has gone home. Possible solutions might involve re-prioritizing their tasks, bringing in temporary help or assigning some projects to other work groups.
The point is, unless you know about the situation, you can’t do anything to address it. Once you know, you can take steps to more fairly balance the workload.
Result: employees don’t feel as overworked. When they do work overtime, they can feel confident it’s been noticed.
(As an added benefit, reducing chronic overtime may also help you reduce your labor costs!)
We’re all in this together
As we’ve seen, employers aren’t the only ones who benefit from improved time tracking. Employees are more likely to enthusiastically adopt a new time and attendance system when they understand the benefits it brings to them.
The earlier and more you involve your employees in the process, the more likely it is you’ll have their buy-in and support. The result — a smoother, easier implementation. You’ll start realizing the cost and time savings of the new system even faster.
When you’re ready to upgrade your time tracking, take a look at the time and attendance solutions Acroprint has to offer. With our huge variety, you’re sure to find something that meets your needs… and that your employees will love, too!