Time and Attendance has been around for over a century. One of the earliest examples of a time clock was patented by Willard Le Grand Bundy, in 1890. Known as The Bundy Clock, it went into mass production in the late 19th century and was used by many organisations around the world to calculate the working hours of employees. Thankfully, the process of stamping an employee card has moved on somewhat. Demand from businesses looking to leverage the benefits and cost savings associated with time and attendance solutions, has given rise to a rapidly expanding industry. The time and attendance market is now estimated to be worth over $1.7 billion. Suppliers of time and attendance solutions are always looking for new and innovative ways to differentiate themselves from their competition. So, what are some of the ‘must-haves’ of a time and attendance solution?
Planning your staff shift patterns or rota, is one of the most important aspects of any business. Making sure you have enough staff in place to meet the demand of your customers is a fine balancing act; too many staff is an unnecessary cost to the business; too few staff and customer demands or expectations may not be met. Many organisations still plan their rotas with spreadsheets. This can be very time consuming and can also lead to staff planning errors.
Choose a time and attendance system with a carefully designed rota interface. Look for a shift planning tool that allows for ease-of-use. There are two important must-haves in any rota planning system; the ability to easily create shifts and shift patterns that can be rolled out to individuals, teams, departments or even entire organisations; and the ability to copy shifts for individuals or departments to future dates, avoiding unnecessary duplication.
Businesses need to ensure that staff are working according to their planned shifts. Making sure that businesses pay employees based on their actual time working and not just on what they are supposed to be working, is one way that businesses can save money. A good time and attendance system, however, goes much further than this. Businesses should be able to set up a system of rules and procedures to minimise the impact on management time. For example, setting up automated rounding rules that will either make adjustments to pay, or simply raise an exception for a manager to investigate, are just some of the features that will save managers many hours of reviewing and authorising timesheets and allow them to focus on the core aspects of your business.
When choosing a time and attendance system, you should consider how easy it is to configure your payroll and overtime rules. Every organisation differs in their approach to payroll and overtime, and a system should be able to be configured to your organisational rules. Look for a time and attendance solution that allows for simple configuration no matter how complex your rules may be.
Every organisation, regardless of size, must deal with absence management issues. Employees have statutory rights regarding absence, whether that be sickness or holiday. In addition, most organisations offer further rights in their efforts to attract and retain the right staff. Whether an entitlement is statutory or optional, effective management ensures compliance, fairness and equality. A time and attendance solution should allow your business to easily create and manage staff absences.
A complex and time-consuming issue for many organisations to overcome, is the amount of communication that takes place between employees and management regarding staff planning. Many leading time and attendance solutions give organisations the option of allowing staff access to their own self-service application. Simple applications will allow employees to view their upcoming work patterns or book holiday, but more sophisticated apps allow employees to notify their employer when they are unavailable to work or even allow them to request to take on extra work or unallocated shifts. An effective self-service app can save some businesses thousands of hours in processing and communication time every year.
Reporting is an important aspect of every business. Being able to determine performance and compliance is essential in making future decisions that will positively affect the business. One ‘must-have’ component of a time and attendance solution is the ability to be able to configure reports to give you a thorough insight into your business.
Essentially, there are two types of reports; scheduled and ad-hoc. Scheduled reports are the reports that users of the system need to have in their inbox at given points in time. For example, scheduling a daily report that highlights any employee or contractor who is not deemed to be onsite within 30 minutes of their shift start time or a weekly report that gives data on overtime broken down by department. By configuring and scheduling these reports, it will put the essential data in front of whoever needs it, when they need it.
In addition to scheduled reports, ad-hoc reporting is also very important. This gives a manager or department head, the ability to generate specific reports as matters arise. Reports need to have the ability to be easily configured in order to drill down to only the information that you need to see. This can save your business many hours of manually processing information or producing spreadsheets.
Every time and attendance system must have the ability to assign very specific role-based permissions. Time and attendance systems, by their very nature, contain large amounts of sensitive data. For example, it would be potentially very difficult to recover from a data breach that exposed the pay rates of employees. There have been some very high-profile reported cases in the media of internal data breaches which have proved to be very costly for the organisations involved. These repercussions go far beyond any financial penalties. It can take a long time to re-build employee trust. When deciding on a time and attendance solution, you should always consider how sensitive data can be protected so that authorised users can get access to the information that they need and that sensitive data can be restricted to users of the system that do not need to see it.
In addition to restricting access to sensitive data, it is vital to know who did what to the system. For example, if an employee clocked in late at the start of their shift because they were conducting an off-site, work-related activity, a manager would be able to adjust the employee’s start time to reflect this. This adjustment and the associated reasons should be recorded and clearly audited. This will mitigate the risk of anyone doing anything to the system that was in anyway in contravention of your company policies and procedures.
Integrations can really help businesses to maximise on their return on investment. When deciding on a time and attendance system, you should consider if an integration would be of benefit to your organisation. There are three main integration options that can add value to your investment; payroll, HR and access control. Many organisations use an HR or payroll system as their single point of truth for their employees. As soon as someone is onboarded, the employee details are usually captured in an HR and/or payroll system. Through an integration, these details can be passed directly into and synchronised with a time and attendance solution. This ensures accuracy of information and avoids the requirement to duplicate data entry, saving both time and money.
In addition, payroll integrations allow for calculated payroll information to be passed directly into the payroll system. Again, this generates significant efficiency savings and mitigates the risk of manual errors occurring.
Another integration that is often worth considering is an integration with access control. Electronic access control systems are designed to restrict physical access to your building. In order to allow access, employees will generally be issued with a token (card/fob/biometric) which they would use to identify themselves at a reader. When access is granted, a log is created in a database. This event log can be used by a time and attendance system to process an employee’s payroll, removing the need to invest in additional hardware and infrastructure, and maximising your return on investment.
For organisations that prefer dedicated clocking devices, there are a number of options available. It is important to select a time and attendance solution that offers a range of clocking-in devices. Many organisations opt for RFID terminals, where an employee would use a card or fob to be recognised. This is a cost-effective solution that requires minimal administration. However, it could leave your organisation vulnerable to buddy punching or additional costs of replacing lost cards or fobs. As an alternative, you could consider a biometric terminal which uses a face, fingerprint or iris to recognise employees. Although the readers themselves may cost a little more, there are no costs associated with cards or fobs and a biometric solution eliminates the possibility of buddy punching.
Every organisation is different and as such you should consider selecting a time and attendance solution that is integrated with various types of clocking terminals to meet both your current and future requirements.
Every time and attendance solution holds personal information about employees, and some of this information, such as home addresses and pay rates can be particularly sensitive. It is therefore vital that you consider a time and attendance that offers the right levels of security. This relates not only to access to data, but also how data is stored and transferred. Ensure your solution has an appropriate level of security for logging into the application and is hosted in a way that protects you from cyber threats.
Thinking Software has been supplying customers all over the world with time and attendance solutions for over 25 years. Our latest innovative solution, RotaOne has been designed to meet the demands of organisations of any size. If you would like to discuss how RotaOne can benefit your business, speak to one of our friendly staff who will be pleased to arrange a free, no-obligation online demonstration
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