Today, flexible working and a greater work-life balance are real priorities for the modern worker rather than just a tempting bonus. To keep up with the changing expectations and demands of employees, businesses must begin to realise that time and attendance and workforce management systems provide critical support.
With economic uncertainty and prolonged budget cuts set to continue as we enter 2011, it’s more important than ever for UK businesses to benefit from the technological advances made in time and attendance and workforce management systems over the last ten years.
Matt Wheeler, product and marketing director at Amano UK, discusses the history of time and attendance technology and why it will become an even more essential workforce management tool for businesses in 2011 and beyond.
To get the most out of employees, it is crucial for businesses to possess the technological infrastructure to facilitate and effectively track the working practices in place. With the continuing demands for businesses to strive for greater efficiency, lower costs and higher motivation, they must ensure they are not held to ransom by the working policies in place.
Managing an evolving and demanding workforce can be problematic, but the right systems can provide efficient and effective support that will make it much less of an HR headache, especially for businesses managing complex working patterns.
Workforce management systems such as Astrow Suite have continued to advance as the demands on British businesses have become more complex. The earliest version of Astrow, available until 2000, was the first Windows-based technology and was compatible with Windows 3.11. The technology has since progressed to the current version, available from 2010, which has been developed to work with Windows 7 and has a number of web-based functions – enabling businesses to synchronise time and attendance, project and activity tracking and holiday and overtime management, as well as HR recording and integration with access control and payroll.
As a result of such technological advances during the past ten years, businesses can now build the technology to cater to their individual needs. Employers can now realise the benefits of time management systems eliminating time-intensive administration tasks and allowing employees to focus on key tasks. By allowing employees to prioritise their workload and release time for key responsibilities, employers can then benefit from increased productivity. By ensuring better planning, shift management and staff deployment, this can then help to reduce overtime costs and wastage.
Bottom line benefits
In addition to these long-term benefits, businesses can also profit from immediate savings in reducing administration time, providing opportunities to speed up processes and redeploy key staff. By also monitoring staff hours and timekeeping, businesses can ensure that employees are working the hours that they are paid for. By saving just five minutes per day per employee, businesses can save thousands of pounds per annum – a tempting prospect for any business facing what could be another decade of economic instability.
Although time and attendance tools are used effectively in some British businesses, many employers are still missing out on some opportunities that can enable workforce management technology become a core management tool.
Standard reporting is now commonly used, but more detailed analysis on areas such as overtime payments, shift scheduling and workforce planning could provide many more opportunities to improve the bottom line. Crucially, as the demands on British businesses continue to evolve so has the time and attendance technology to help facilitate this.
For businesses to ensure they’re always kept in the loop, there is now a whole host of data which is crucial for employers to monitor and track. Businesses must keep in control of different working patterns, shifts and pay rates, as well as demand planning and shift scheduling. To keep an eye on productivity levels, statistics on productive and non-productive time are also crucial. In addition to standard absence data, employers should also monitor information on lateness and sick days taken, to ensure they’re always keeping track of their team – right now and in the future.
Keeping track of 2011
As January draws near, workforce management tools will become a fundamental part of how a business succeeds in 2011 and beyond – providing essential every day information on working patterns, productivity statistics, payroll, job costing and HR tasks. With increased links and integration to other core business areas, workforce management systems such as Astrow Suite and iTime are now essential management tools, allowing businesses to monitor much more than standard time and attendance.
As workforce management technology continues to advance, the increased use of self service tools will enable every employee to be in control of their own workforce management – allowing employers to reap the benefits as we enter a new decade of HR.