Employee Time Scheduling Nightmares And How To Avoid Them
In our previous article, you and I had an engaging chat where you found out that ignoring advanced Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) would cost you 113% expected profitability, according to World Bank data, while your competitors would grow 750% faster than you. In this post, we’ll take a more targeted approach to our conversation.
So, let’s take a look at specific challenges faced by CEOs and executive leaders such as you when managing small teams of 15 to 25 people.
As professionals with significant experience of both sides of the employer-employee relationship, we shall attempt to communicate perspectives which demonstrate the negative fallout of inadequate workforce time management tools on leaders as well as their employees.
Employee Time Scheduling Nightmares
1. Planning Vacation Time-Off
Let’s face it. Although time-off planning is not the most celebrated of managerial skills, it forms the bread and butter of any leader faced with the prospect of keeping a business running smoothly.
Since the time for mechanical employees is yet far off, your human resources work hard, and need to rightfully take their vacations on occasion in order to recharge themselves.
When faced with the lives of 15 to 25 people, however, the prospect of ensuring sufficient manpower at work can quickly become more complicated than the choreography of a Russian ballet – especially around peak holiday times.
Time-off planning is not the most celebrated of managerial skills
Consider an example. You’re on the verge of finishing one contract before Christmas, and have just signed on another new client as well.
With the added logistics of maintaining two functional teams, you also need to factor in the possibility of several key members vacationing during the holidays.
As most small entrepreneurs do, you rely on your trusty excel sheet to show you which employees are taking time-off during specific periods.
Yet, this sheet doesn’t account for human errors, like you forgetting to update it during peak work periods, nor does it show you when multiple key employees are off from work during overlapping times.
As we discussed in the previous article, this lack of visibility leads to an unavoidable and catastrophic conclusion – several key members are missing from your teams, and now you’re in the very real danger of screwing up delivery dates to your clients.
…and now you’re in the very real danger of screwing up delivery dates!
In such cases, even if you use emails and other calendar tools to integrate time-off information across technological devices, the data is neither easily analyzable nor is it pushed across to you until it is too late.
After all, when you’re juggling several balls in the air as an entrepreneur and a CEO, you hardly have the time to regularly re-check the spreadsheets, emails, calendars, memos, etc. each time you get another request for time-off.
This results in several last-minute bustles on your part, where you’re forced to re-prioritize vacation requests, and decide all over again which two amongst Bob, Susan, and Fletcher can have their time-off – causing the inevitable dip in morale and productivity which then plagues your workplace for weeks to come, and the loss of trust and engagement with the workplace over time.
As several studies have recently demonstrated, this failure of a workplace to support its employee’s work-life balance is among the top reasons for employees quitting, and the subsequent high turnover rates among organizations.
2. Sick Leaves & Emergency Leaves
Even if you don’t screw up in situations such as those described above, at best you’re looking at tens of working hours spent each week trying to balance out necessary manpower on an excel spreadsheet.
In this case, you need your employees to submit vacation requests far in advance to even be considered, and you’re often unable to confirm or deny them until the 11th hour – making the prospect of asking you for time-off as pleasant or predictable as a game of Russian roulette, which yet again affects productivity and morale.
It also burdens you with the drudgery of having to keep balancing this simple yet time-intensive task, when you could easily be using these hours for significantly more productive work.
This also means that your precious juggling act can be undone with a single sick employee at a time, or other emergency situations which call away a key team member without prior notice.
No employee is irreplaceable or indispensable
Since you’re either often unaware of how little slack you’re left in terms of manpower, or have little visibility into time-off priorities, you’re unable to quickly resolve unplanned workforce problems without once again consulting your calendars, memos, emails, and spreadsheets for hours at end.
While larger companies have the advantage of redundancy in their system, wherein no employee is irreplaceable or indispensable, smaller enterprises such as yours rely on talented employees who can handle their specific fields with considerable expertise – without excessive crossover in primary skills.
While this makes for an incredibly agile, productive, and versatile operation when all the gears in the system are rolling smoothly, it can be slowed to a grueling crawl with a single emergency.
3. Working From Home & Calculating Half-Days
If workforce management logistics were limited to time-off planning, this would be a simple world indeed.
However, with the rise of virtual workplaces, half-days and time spent working from home now need to enter the calculations as well.
Since such requests are often at short notice and help continue work in times of emergency, methods such as spreadsheets, memos, emails, and calendars fail to be immediately useful in providing a solution.
Instead, during such crunch times, these methods require further investment of time spent away from active work to provide sufficient data in order to work a solution.
With the rise of virtual workplaces, time spent working from home now need to enter the calculations as well
In particular, if your employees work from different time zones or operate in shifts, this complicates such records even more since it reduces the calculation of hours worked versus sanctioned time-off to a sum of hours rather than days.
In short, what if your employee worked for three fourth of a day and then requested some personal time-off for non-medical reasons, and you accepted it?
You would then need to sit and calculate time-off remaining as fractional values rather than whole days.
Or else, you would need to calculate docked pay for hours unserved, rather than a full day – if that complies with your company’s time-off policies.
4. Payroll Calculation & Policy Compliance
Now, let’s talk about the biggest complication arising from the use of manually-intensive workforce time management practices – Salary calculations and government policy compliance requirements.
Does Adam have enough sanctioned leaves left for a paid time-off? Did Sarah already use her appointed sick leave days? Did you calculate and adjust Josh’s payroll to reflect his unsanctioned half-days?
If you’re a company based out of California, do you compile sufficiently detailed records to satisfy the new Paid Sick Leave legislation compliance requirements?
Are you certain that every entry out of the hundreds you’ve made in the last month alone to your excel spreadsheet is completely accurate and free of error?
If so, then why is Donna’s paycheck short of 8 hours worth of overtime which she did for you as a last-minute favor when Darren disappeared on his medical emergency?
Spreadsheets, memos, emails, and your own memory – any error amidst which can result in less or more salary given than is due
Since you’re an entrepreneur managing teams of 15-25 people, it’s highly unlikely that you have an HR head as yet.
That honor rests upon your shoulders and upon the accuracy of your army of spreadsheets, memos, emails, and your own memory – any error amidst which can result in less or more salary given than is due, or less or more vacation days made available than are accurate.
These not only directly affect your bottom-line, but also your credibility as a leader and manager.
And when it comes to record-keeping for official compliance, many of these tools not only fail to qualify as accepted records, but errors can result in legal penalties as a best-case scenario, and litigation at worst.
Recap: Criteria For Efficient Workforce Management Tools
Before we continue with discussions of a solution to such nightmares, let’s have a quick recap of the primary criteria for judging the worth of workforce management solutions such as employee time and attendance tools.
This means that you should be able to see the relevant information when required, in the space where such decisions are made.
So, if time-off decisions are made in the office, you must be able to use the tool in that space.
The tool must be easy to use so that you can easily adjust to its use without excessive tutoring or delays.
Where possible, the tool must be able to show the same information across various physical or virtual spaces without the need to re-enter the same information again and again in different places.
Ease of Access
The tool must be easily accessible to employers and employees from any physical or virtual space, without limitations. If time-off decisions are made at the employer’s home, they must see the same relevant information that is available at their office.
In today’s business environment, records are the single-most important by-product to maintain if one is to avoid legal liability, pay their employees accurately, or even just comply with legislative requirements such as those listed under California’s new Paid Sick Leave.
If your team can see the necessary time-off management information just as easily as you, they can make smarter decisions as well regarding their leave planning, thus reducing unnecessary burdens from your shoulders.
The Answer To Time Scheduling Nightmares: Automation
While most workforce time management tools fit the criteria listed above to some degree or another, there is one other criterion which is missing in most tools today – automation.
And yet, that’s the answer to most nightmares CEOs are likely to face in terms of workforce time scheduling.
A modern business tool should provide these to you at the click of a button
Instead of forcing you to slice time from an uber-packed schedule to run simple mathematical additions and subtractions across all employees in a time-sheet, or play pin-the-shift on employee names in order to ensure that sufficient manpower is assigned to projects at all times, efficient tools should automate redundant processes in the system.
Rather than having to double and triple-check leave calculations, paid time-off left, time-off to be carried over to next year, extra hours worked, sick leaves owed and disbursed, unpaid absences, etc. a modern business tool should provide these to you at the click of a button, while also making relevant time-off information available to each employee on demand.
Such automated processes reduce wastage of time
Such automated processes reduce wastage of time by allowing employees to check their own leaves left and strategically planning their use of paid leaves.
In doing so, they cut down on requests which would have eventually been rescinded by employees, and free up hundreds of hours spent balancing employee scheduling sheets for CEOs such as yourself.
It is by replacing outdated methods such as manually-intensive time management tools such as the ones discussed above that advanced Information & Communication Technologies (ICTs) enhance productivity by 56% at the minimum, as well.
Importance of Automation In Workforce Management: Summary
While there are several ways of enhancing productivity and efficiency in an enterprise, any business guru will tell you that the simplest way to improve operations is by integrating manually-intensive processes into the system wherever possible – which is the essence of automation.
Basically, by removing the human factor from calculations concerning time and attendance management, you remove chances of error while maximizing the monetary value of your own time – which directly improves the bottom-line.
ICTs enhance productivity by 56% at the minimum
Additionally, where such automation is present, these employee time-off management (ETM) systems also provide greater visibility into leaves for higher-impact employees, compile and offer collective time-off schedules in easily analyzable formats, and allow for flawless record-keeping in compliance with several workforce governing laws.
By negating such nightmares as those discussed above, they allow for the provision of a solid workforce management base even without investing into an HR department or personnel to oversee these aspects of a business’ operations.
They also aid in keeping morale and productivity at optimal levels, while preserving the credibility and trust in the leadership of the company – yet another reason listed in recent times as pivotal in decisions to quit a job.
In the end, however, we are but a single voice. To better understand your experiences as a CEO, and your needs which are to be met, we would love to hear back from you in the comments section below.
Please let us know – What memorable attendance nightmares did you face in your past, and which technological tools available today would have helped you resolve that situation had you had access to them in the past?