Commercial organizations often find themselves stuck in a tug of war between workforce efficiency and client demands. Fierce competition sometimes pushes organizations to agree upon tough deadlines to grab a project and stay competitive. Things, however, may not go as expected at the workforce end. Deadlines may be missed and delivery may get delayed, if workforce engaged in the project is not properly managed. These scenarios are not uncommon in businesses; however, they can be managed with efficient workforce management practices.
What workforce management is, what are its different aspects and how biometric technology can assist it, let’s dig little deeper.
What is workforce management?
As the term implies, workforce management is about managing workforce, making sure that it stays productive at its best and is able to meet demands. Workforce management is an umbrella term for many activities like scheduling employee time tracking, performance management, absent and leave management and other related activities. Larger personnel-centric organizations like BPO, call centers, etc. can employ more elaborated workforce management practices as their productivity is highly dependent on employee head counts. A few employees on leave can make customers wait longer on support calls. Workforce management can provide extraordinary benefits if done right. Today’s organizations are facing ruthless competition at all fronts and keeping business profitable has become a tough job.
- Accurate capture of employee time and attendance
- Saves businesses from impact of leaves and absenteeism
- Efficient scheduling of workforce
- Remote management of off-site employees
- Increased per employee productivity
- Ability to accomplish tasks with lesser numbers of people
- Efficient and accurate payroll due to an increase in per-employee productivity
- Forecasting saves from surprises and saves money that could go wasted managing them
- It helps allocate right people with the right skills to the right job at the right time
Workforce management can make all the difference. It can cut cost on human resources, which is one of the major expenses in any organization and can improve productivity per employee. In smaller outfits, workforce management may only limit to employee time / attendance tracking and leave management, however, in mid to large organizations, workforce management can include many other functions which can be vital for their survival.
A particular industry and its functions can significantly differ from other industry types, however, there are functions common to most businesses with a very little degree of variation, for example: requirements of employee attendance, scheduling, forecasting, HR, etc. They hardly change for most industry types.
What is an attendance management system?
An attendance management system is the system that helps keep track of in and out time of people that are required to be time-tracked. An attendance system can be employed by a commercial outfit to keep track of employee hours, by an educational institute to track attendance of students or by an organization to keep track of in and out timings of its members.
An organization or any facility where time tracking of individuals is crucial, may choose to do it all manually, or may leverage any of different methods of time tracking like punch clocks, time clock software or biometric solutions.
Time tracking of employees is an important activity in business outfits and it is mostly implemented at the time of commencement of the business. Most of them already have an attendance system in place to make sure that employees work for the hours they are being paid for. Some attendance management systems may offer some degree of automation while others may provide full automation. Fully automated systems have proven to be more secure and immune to manipulation than legacy or manual systems.
Employee time tracking
Employee time tracking is an important activity of workforce management practices. It plays a central role in ensuring that employees spend minimum required hours at work and paid only for the hours worked. To implement a time tracking, a manual, a semi-automated or a fully automated system can be used. A handwritten attendance register in which employees put their in and out time with their signatures is a manual system while a biometric fingerprint attendance system will be counted in automated one.
The time tracking method should be robust enough against tempering or manipulation, as some dishonest employees may choose to go around the time tracking system. Buddy punching, timesheet manipulation, etc. are some of the methods such employees employ to fraudulently get paid for the hours not worked.
Existence of these fraudulent activities makes employee time tracking necessary in organizations. With technology getting cheaper and easily available, most organizations these days make use of technological means of time tracking. Even smaller organizations with limited number of employees are using latest time tracking methods like biometrics for automated time tracking, attendance and reliable records of employee in and out timings.
Time tracking system may be integrated with a software module specially designed for the purpose, which can provide important reports and insights of employee in and out time.
Absence management in HR
Absence management is another important activity in workforce management, in which its side-effects on productivity are managed with planning beforehand. Absenteeism can contribute significantly in workforce shrinkage and proper scheduling with keeping absenteeism in mind can save organizations from productivity getting impacted.
In bigger organizations, where the numbers of employees are large and working at different locations on the same or different projects, manual methods of absence management fail to offer any help. That is why absence management software is often leveraged for the purpose.
Absence management software enables managers and supervisors to easily track and manage employee absences including paid time off, absence exceptions, and absence tracking. One of the main benefits of a software based absence management solution is tracking absenteeism. Some software allows tracking absenteeism in real time while other may compile data after a set duration. Real time absence tracking feature may be important in organizations taking care of critical endeavours as it can help managers with prompt decision making.
An efficient absence management system should be able to generate informative reports on trend and employee absence behavior. With the help of trend data and employee absence behavior reports, managers can address the issue before it escalates into a more serious problem.
Employees in organized sector are entitled a number of leaves by their organization, which they can avail should the need arise. As is the case with absence management, keeping track of employee leaves can also be a cumbersome task. Employees at different levels may be subject to different set of leave benefits and managing their leaves can take a significant amount of time and efforts if done. Local law for employees leaves may also require companies to comply with certain regulations, which can further complicate the matter so managing employee leaves can be crucial for business, specially in personnel-centric industries.
Manual methods of leave management may only help complicate things rather than resolving them, that’s where a leave management software can help. An efficient leave management software can help maintain optimum efficiency and productivity despite the shortage of staff. Keeping track of employee leaves can eliminate unpleasant surprises during the business operations. Employees can request leaves using the leave management system while managers can review and accept or reject request depending on the availability of the staff for the requested duration.
Modern employee attendance systems can be integrated with leave management software and the attendance system can export data to the leave management software. With this data, leave management solution can calculate entitled, availed and remaining leaves in employee accounts.
Just like oil, data can be refined to produce more useful information, which may have appeared unusable in its raw form. Workforce management activities can produce a lot of data, specially in large organizations. This data, when processed correctly, can produce valuable insights that can help management to take better decisions, avoid mistakes and make forecasts. This data, however, may be next to impossible to refine, without a software tool owing to its enormous size.
Workforce analytics software products help apply statistical models to the data generated out of workforce management activities. It can help managers and decision makers to optimize their workforce management activities.
Workforce management scheduling
Workforce scheduling can be a practical problem specially with organizations that work 24/7 and have a large workforce. Contact centers are a good example of criticality of workforce scheduling where hundreds of employees work on different processes round the clock. A workforce scheduling software is often leveraged for the purpose, which can automatically schedule employees for the next assignment depending on their profile and occupancy. It can create automatic staff rosters and optimize workforce planning, which can be crucial to prevent unnecessary downtime and productivity loss.
Organizing efficient schedules can be a challenging task and workforce management scheduling system can help managers make sure that productivity does not hamper due to improper scheduling.
Mobile workforce management
Implementation of attendance management system can track in and out timings of in-house employees but when the workforce is mobile, e.g. working in the field or off-site, they do not offer any help. In this case, a mobile workforce management system comes into the picture.
Mobile workforce solutions enable employees to punch in and out on the go. This can be the ideal solution for organizations in which employees are mostly engaged in field work and have to perform duties on the go. In such scenario, tracking employees’ whereabouts can be a complex endeavour without a proper system in place. Other than punching in and out, employees can request leaves, view vacation and sick time balances and explain absences from devices including computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Employees can also manage their own time and attendance from any location. Modern mobile workforce management solutions can track location of an employee using GPS capabilities of her/his device, ensuring employee is where he/she should be.
Biometric time clock systems
Biometric time clock systems have become a commonplace in organizations of almost all shapes and sizes. There are many kinds of time clock systems that can help track in and out timings of employees. Choosing a time clock system entirely depends on the type and applications of the organization, for example, punch card system for time tracking can be employed in an office or factory, but not in a school. However, there are time clock systems that can be universally applied in any application: Biometric Time Clock Systems.
A biometric time clock can take care of attendance and in and out timings, wherever there is a need of time tracking. Biometrically captured in and out timings produce a reliable data as the system cannot be manipulated like other systems where an employee can punch in or out on behalf of others, resulting in timesheet manipulation, hampered productivity and increased cost.
Employing biometric time clock systems may initially seem expensive than other time tracking systems, however, they provide best return on investment by curbing timesheet fraud. Biometric time clock systems can incapacitate time theft and increase payroll efficiency, in which employees are paid only for hours worked.
Biometric time clock system can make use of fingerprints or palm prints of employees to mark their in and out time. Being comparatively cheaper and easier to deploy, fingerprint attendance systems are more common for time tracking and attendance applications.
Benefits of time and attendance system
Time tracking and attendance are an inevitable part in any organization. There is always some form of attendance and time tracking method is in place for the purpose, which is one of the workforce management activities. Workforce management is no more a daily activity in many industries; it has become strategically important component in corporate management.
Productivity can a significant hit if employees are coming late and leaving early. Along with this there may be other ways of time theft which may go undetected. Some employees can choose to engage in timesheet manipulation by buddy punching if there is a poor control on employee in and out process. An efficient time tracking and attendance system can curb all the forms of time theft, resulting in increased productivity and not to mention profit.
When time theft is in control and employees are working for the hours they are being paid for, it results in improved payroll efficiency, which signifies that the organization is getting more productivity out of the same wages paid.
Payroll efficiency is other than above benefits, a time and attendance system works as an equalizer. There may be some employees taking advantage of poor control by coming late and leaving early. When time and attendance system is in place, it works equally for all the employees.
Time and attendance systems for small businesses
Small businesses have their own unique challenges when it comes to investing in technology powered time and attendance systems. Stake holders often show reluctance in investing money in something which is already being done by other methods, no matter how inefficient they can be. A quick demonstration and return on investment study can solve this problem. Many vendors of time and attendance systems offer online tools to make a quick return on investment calculation. Some small business owners may not even admit that time theft can be a serious issue and can claim a significant portion of their productivity and profit. According to a report published by Harvard Business Review, the U.S. economy suffers from loss of $7.4 billion per day due to payroll and other inadequacies.
Inability to reliably track employee punch in and out timings, employees getting engaged in illegal activity of time theft by buddy punching, rounding up their work hours, etc. are some of the inefficiencies hurting the businesses. This fraudulent activity is more evident in smaller organizations as they tend to stay profitable by cutting costs on many systems, including the time and attendance tracking system. Most large organizations already put their money on latest time tracking systems like biometric fingerprint attendance systems, to gain long term benefits and cut cost on manual efforts.
These are the reasons why small businesses may not identify the need of an efficient time and attendance system and keep jeopardizing their productivity and payroll by relying on manual or other inefficient time and attendance tracking.
Workforce management is becoming important due to growing challenges in all industry types and competition among organizations getting more and more intense. From start-ups to multinational giants, workforce management has its own significance. While it may not be too evident in smaller setups, however it has its own strategic value in mid to large companies.
Many organizations, particularly smaller ones, often do not admit the need of a proper workforce management system in place and keep lingering on the obsolete and inefficient methods. Many organizations out of them only take care of core functions like attendance, time tracking and employee. They often neglect the importance of elaborate workforce management, while it can be the solution they need to resolve many of their existing and future problems.
Employee time tracking, scheduling, absence management, etc. are some of the major components of workforce management. In larger organizations there may be many more functions under the workforce management umbrella.