Cloud Time & Attendance

THE BENEFITS OF A CLOUD SOLUTION:
• Reduced IT costs. Moving to cloud computing
reduces the cost of managing and maintaining
your IT systems
• No IT hardware required
• No installation required
• Access to the system from any location and from
any device including your mobile phone
• Cloud based clocking devices means no network
configuration is required
• Scalability
• Business continuity
• Access to automatic updates
• Disaster recovery – Automatic back ups

Remote Working

Working from home is not a new concept, nor simply a tool for dealing with the Coronavirus. Many employers have facilitated home working to various degrees whether ad-hoc, for specific staffing groups or even as a more generic policy for staff.

With the outbreak of Coronavirus, many companies have simply extended their normal home working practices both in terms of the staffing groups or the period of time that staff can be at home.

But we are not in “normal times” and as we move to home working it is becoming abundantly clear that “working from home” also needs to incorporate “Flexible Working” and for very good reasons.

The school closures that have been mandated from the 23rd of March mean that many colleagues will not simply be working from home but also juggling work with looking after their children. Not for a week or two, but perhaps for 12 or more weeks.

Whilst the weekend was traditionally a sacred time to spend with your family, in “CoronaTimes” families will be together the entire week. The trips out at weekends will somewhat disappear as facilities close down and social interaction becomes restricted.

Adapt to stay productive

As parents and families adapt to this new reality, they will be looking to balance their parental responsibilities (which might include a degree of home-schooling) with their work-life.  For many, there will also be a realisation that children are unlikely to comply with your request for them to quietly study between the hours of 9am to 5pm whilst you attempt to focus on work.  Those that try will likely see their levels of frustration and stress reach levels rise to such a degree that they are forced to decide between work or family. 

So, organisations need to adapt not just to Home Working, but Flexible Working. For many parents, the answer may lie in utilising their hitherto sacred weekends which now have less value, so that they can both look after their children and attend to their work. Colleagues are going to be far more effective at balancing their parental and work commitments over 7 days than the traditional 5.

Those parents who both work from  home might take a different approach and take it in turns to look after their children which might mean colleagues have a compressed week, e.g. 3 long days (12 hours) working, with 3 days looking after their children whilst their partner works.

There are many possible patterns of working that enable staff to meet the challenge of Home Working and Home Schooling. But they all require their employer to be flexible. Fortunately, Flexible Working (Flexitime) addresses this challenge. Flexitime is not a new concept and has been around for many years. What is new is the concept of combining these together to ensure staff can be productive and successful during this unprecedented period.

Technology can Help

HR Leaders need to engage with staff and provide flexible working patterns that address their specific circumstances whilst also meeting the needs of the organisation. Essential for success is the need for a Cloud based Workforce Management tool that provides managers and staff with visibility of when their colleagues are working (essential for conferencing and communication) but avoids the associated admin by enabling all colleagues to clock in remotely so that their time is automatically recorded.  The combination of flexibility and technology will ensure staff are productive whilst reducing their anxiety and stress. A New World of Work is being forced upon us through these unprecedented times and HR Leaders need to be agile and creative to help lead and navigate their organisation through these rough seas.

Resource planning during Coronatimes

The most common challenge for almost every organisation during these “coronatimes” is demand forecasting and resource planning.

Almost every business is effected with some reporting increased demand for their services or product whilst many reporting significant drops in orders.

To add more pressure, the coronavirus is likely to create unprecedented absences of up to 20% of your workforce.

So businesses are having to plan and model the potential for significant fluctuations in demand and the potential that 20% of their workforce will not be available for work.

This requires a significant amount of modelling and analysis. Just creating one model can take as long as a week to produce, but with such uncertainty around the impact of coronavirus there is a need for many models with differing assumptions. As the picture becomes clearer these models need updating based on revised assumptions and estimates.

Planning for the future has never been so precarious and now more than ever is the need for instant analysis, modelling and assessments.  


Two frequent questions are;

What if my business suffers a 30% reduction in orders? How many staff would I need, what shift patterns would they work to cover gaps in delivery?

What if 20% of my staff were off sick at any one time? What shift patterns make the most of the remaining staff, how many staff would I need to cover 20% absence over the next 3 months?

These complex calculations require more than a knowledge of the business, they require a tool that can rapidly provide detailed analysis, costing and optimised shift patterns based on the requirements or predictions provided. Some tools take months to implement and require extensive training and configuration.

However, HFX has developed “Workforce Design” that not only can be implemented in a day, provides real-time analysis of “what if” predictions and during these coronatimes, HFX is offering a consultant lead remote session using the tool to model your scenarios for you, eliminating the need for any training. The other benefit to business is that this service (time limited) will provide you with a 50 page analytics report (produced by Workforce Design) and guidance for a fixed price without the need for subscription or any on-going cost.

Flexible Working Solutions

Working from home is not a new concept, nor simply a tool for dealing with the Coronavirus. Many employers have facilitated home working to various degrees whether ad-hoc, for specific staffing groups or even as a more generic policy for staff.

With the outbreak of Coronavirus, many companies have simply extended their normal home working practices both in terms of the staffing groups or the period of time that staff can be at home.

But we are not in “normal times” and as we move to home working it is becoming abundantly clear that “working from home” also needs to incorporate “Flexible Working” and for very good reasons.

The school closures that have been mandated from the 23rd of March mean that many colleagues will not simply be working from home but also juggling work with looking after their children. Not for a week or two, but perhaps for 12 or more weeks.

Whilst the weekend was traditionally a sacred time to spend with your family, in “CoronaTimes” families will be together the entire week. The trips out at weekends will somewhat disappear as facilities close down and social interaction becomes restricted.

Adapt to stay productive

As parents and families adapt to this new reality, they will be looking to balance their parental responsibilities (which might include a degree of home-schooling) with their work-life.  For many, there will also be a realisation that children are unlikely to comply with your request for them to quietly study between the hours of 9am to 5pm whilst you attempt to focus on work.  Those that try will likely see their levels of frustration and stress reach levels rise to such a degree that they are forced to decide between work or family. 

So, organisations need to adapt not just to Home Working, but Flexible Working. For many parents, the answer may lie in utilising their hitherto sacred weekends which now have less value, so that they can both look after their children and attend to their work. Colleagues are going to be far more effective at balancing their parental and work commitments over 7 days than the traditional 5.

Those parents who both work from  home might take a different approach and take it in turns to look after their children which might mean colleagues have a compressed week, e.g. 3 long days (12 hours) working, with 3 days looking after their children whilst their partner works.

There are many possible patterns of working that enable staff to meet the challenge of Home Working and Home Schooling. But they all require their employer to be flexible. Fortunately, Flexible Working (Flexitime) addresses this challenge. Flexitime is not a new concept and has been around for many years. What is new is the concept of combining these together to ensure staff can be productive and successful during this unprecedented period.

Technology can Help

HR Leaders need to engage with staff and provide flexible working patterns that address their specific circumstances whilst also meeting the needs of the organisation. Essential for success is the need for a Cloud based Workforce Management tool that provides managers and staff with visibility of when their colleagues are working (essential for conferencing and communication) but avoids the associated admin by enabling all colleagues to clock in remotely so that their time is automatically recorded.  The combination of flexibility and technology will ensure staff are productive whilst reducing their anxiety and stress. A New World of Work is being forced upon us through these unprecedented times and HR Leaders need to be agile and creative to help lead and navigate their organisation through these rough seas.

Coronavirus – A Memo to Business – Don’t Panic – Plan

Coronavirus- A Memo to Business – Don’t Panic – Do Plan

With the spread of COVID-19 extending beyond the borders of China, the World Health Organisation has warned of the likelihood of a Pandemic – a global outbreak. Despite the hysteria, there is no need to panic, rather the need to develop a contingency plan. The possible WHO designation means that activity will move from containment (trying to identify and isolate “Patient Zero” and whoever they have come into contact) to Mitigation, slowing down the spread of the virus to reduce the impact on healthcare systems.

This is as much as a message for employers as it is for governments. In China, we saw how unprepared businesses were, and how damaging it has been, with many now teetering on bankruptcy. To be fair, Chinese businesses had no warning and very little time to react. The same cannot be said for the millions of employers outside mainland China.

So, what is your contingency plan to mitigate COVID-19 within your organisation? There is much organisations can do to help safeguard their company, employees and wider community and below are just of the mitigations that you should consider adopting in your contingency plan;

Homeworking.

Many organisations provide for some form of home working but often this is ad-hoc. Can your systems/IT support longer periods of home working, e.g. 14 days or more? Soft/internet phones, video conferencing, internet speeds? Many Home Workers already complain that there is insufficient IT support/infrastructure put in place for home workers. Would an increase in home workers and the duration of remote working be sustainable with existing infrastructure/bandwidth?

Physical Workplace.

Not all employers/employees have the luxury of home working (e.g. production plants) but there is still much that can be done;

  • If you operate a shift-based system, consider staggering shifts or breaks between shifts ending and starting to reduce the number of physical interactions with employees (e.g. reducing physical contact between those ending a shift and those starting).
  • Consider staggering breaks particularly if you have a canteen to reduce the number of people congregating together. Whilst it may sound drastic, closing the canteen might be an appropriate response depending on your circumstances.

Protecting Employees.

  • Hygiene. This is not simply a matter of communication or policy, rather adapting facilities and promoting behavioral change. What handwash do you currently provide? Consider whether alcohol gel should be provided and not just in the toilets/kitchens, but anywhere there are touchpoints. For example, some organisations use biometric (finger or hand) readers for Time and Attendance or Access Control; Consider hand sanitisers by these devices or switch to touchless biometrics such as Face or Iris readers.
  • Meetings. Reduce the number of physical internal and external meetings. Is it necessary for you to visit your suppliers/customers/prospects or could this be done via video conferencing? The same is true with visitors to your office. Every physical interaction is putting your business/suppliers/customers/colleagues at risk.
  • Temperature checks. Whilst passing the temperature test is no guarantee that a colleague is not infected, it will identify those who are unwell and who therefore shouldn’t be at work.
  • Face masks. If you are only now planning, then you have probably left it too late (this time) to prepare as masks are in short supply. Using the correct masks (often in conjunction with eye protectors) can help reduce the spread and protect your staff.

Protecting your business.

  • Resource planning. How many staff can you manage being off-sick at any one time? What will your isolation period be? 14 days is a long time – what would the impact be? Do you have a policy in place ready to activate? Do you have a procedure for onboarding agency/contingent workers?
  • Key workers. Have you identified key workers whose absence would have a significant impact on the business? Is there an option to upskill or segregate key staff?
  • Holidays. Can you actively manage holidays to reduce the number of people likely to be affected during the critical stages of the contagion?
  • Suppliers. Have you reviewed your supply chain and a mitigation strategy, e.g. over-stocking, alternative suppliers?

Whilst some may take a “wait and see” approach, the reality is that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Having a good contingency plan will help ensure organisations are resilient when a pandemic occurs. Note the keyword here is “when” not “if”. The WHO has said it’s simply a matter of time before the next Pandemic occurs and given constant population and travel increases, the time between pandemics may even shorten (the last pandemic – H1N10 – was in 2009).

The UK government published its latest National Risk Register in 2017. The likelihood of a Pandemic within the next 5 years was high and its impact the greatest of all potential natural/accidental disasters within the UK.

Whether COVID-19 will turn out to be a pandemic is still a matter of debate, but even if a COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t materialise, what it has proved is the need for businesses to have an actionable business contingency plan for when such event occurs.

To find out more about HFX’s Cloud based workforce management solutions can help you plan ahead visit: https://www.hfx.co.uk/solutions/information/

5 reasons why employees love Time and Attendance

why employees love Time and Attendance

People often perceive the introduction of Time and Attendance Solutions as a “Big Brother” approach and introduced as a result of distrust in the workforce, however, the reality is that staff often value the benefits that Time and Attendance bring to them which may even improve employee engagement and retention. Here are some of the benefits;

  • Accuracy

There is nothing worse than opening your payslip only to find that your overtime is missing or incorrect. This is especially true for hourly-paid workers who are often impacted more than salaried staff and those on higher remuneration. Time and Attendance ensures that their time is accurately recorded and via self-service can often show the employee what they will get before they even receive their payslip.

  • Fairness

Often the moment a child can speak we will hear the words “that’s not fair” in response to some parental decision. This innate desire for fair treatment does not end in adulthood but becomes more entrenched. Yet in a large organisation with many managers and supervisors, how can you ensure that managers are being fair to their colleagues. Personal preference and prejudice are not easy to police and may even be unconscious. One employee may get paid for additional hours, another paid nothing. You may be docked pay for being late, whereas your colleague’s lateness is overlooked.  A Time and Attendance system will enforce rules consistently without bias. This results in fair treatment and a more engaged workforce.

  • Transparency

Having a set of clear and precise rules that are consistent across the organisation regardless of who the employee or the manager is, with real-time data for both employees and managers, provides transparency and gives everyone confidence in the decisions that are taken as a result.

  • Flexibility

Because a Time and Attendance system takes away a huge amount of admin work, it enables managers to be more flexible with staff. It makes it easier for managers to accept requests for TOIL, Shift Swaps and other time associated changes that help staff juggle work and life together.

  • Recognition

Time and Attendance systems enable employees who show commitment to the organisation to be recognised through their time record. If you don’t recognise employees who are never late and rarely absent, then you are sending a message that these things are not important. Time and attendance solutions identify and recognise staff with impeccable attendance records. Everyone wants to be recognised for doing the right thing and that includes attendance. Conversely, sometimes a deterioration in good attendance may identify employees who are struggling with work or home life and need help from the HR department. Again, a Time and Attendance system can help managers and HR recognise that an employee needs help and take positive action to support the employee.

Find out more about HFX’s Time and Attendance solutions: https://www.hfx.co.uk/solutions/hfx-time-and-attendance/

Dear Annualised Hours

Dear Annualised Hours – Happy Valentines Day

Valentine’s day marks the first of many calendar events of the year often bursting with merchandise to loosen the cash from our wallet. After Valentine’s, will be Easter, then Halloween and Christmas. Each dispensing perishable and non-perishable goods that need to be produced and delivered on time.

Whilst we take it for granted that the shops will be stocked full to brimming with our seasonal goodies, the reality is that myriad of UK companies will be working overtime just in planning the resources required to deliver the goods we demand to celebrate the occasion.

For some companies, these events are where up to 50% or more of their profits are made. Getting it wrong can even lead some into bankruptcy. For the seasonal businesses, there is no option to have a fixed level of resources no more than they would have a warehouse full of Easter eggs all year round.

Planning is essential both to meet demand and stay profitable during the quieter period of the year.

Companies have deployed various approaches to meet variable demand and cope with the “peaks and troughs”;

Some employ seasonal workers (though this is getting harder post-Brexit) or agency workers (again rules around agency workers have recently become more complex) and a few have tried Zero Hours contracts though these often don’t yield the expected results. There is also the traditional overtime approach but is much more expensive for low margin businesses.

One very successful model is Annualised Hours. This is where workers are contracted to do a fixed number of hours in a year (e.g. 1900) but the actual hours deployed in any period will vary based on business demand.

Thus, during quiet business periods staff might only work 100 hours a month and in busy periods 250 hours per month. The employee still gets paid the same each month regardless of the hours worked (up to the annual contract) but the company can align those resources to seasonal demand.

This approach has many advantages. The company can leverage its skilled, experienced and committed workforce rather than rely on the availability of agency/seasonal workers whose loyalty and skills can often be variable.

However, it does require careful planning. Annualised Hour workers are guaranteed the fixed number of hours whether they are used or not, so management need insight not just into team hours, but each individual to ensure some are not over-deployed resulting in a protracted break whilst other colleagues have a positive balance that could not be deployed before the end of the Annualised period (resulting in wasted hours).

It was these additional management overheads that historically slowed the widespread adoption of Annualised Hours, but with the introduction of cloud-based Rostering systems with Annualised Hours calculations, there is now a compelling reason to adopt this approach to address seasonal and variable business demands.

With Valentine’s day approaching, there is no better time for Seasonal businesses to get re-acquainted with Annualised Hours as a way of delivering on time, every time.