Time & Attendance Managed Service

Creating new Time & Attendance payment rules, adding new absence or adjustment reasons, restructuring your org hierarchy or simply creating new working patterns.

With HFX’s Imperago these were made immeasurably simpler, however we recognise that many of our clients simply don’t have the time or in-house resource to make these changes or often don’t feel confident doing this themselves.

OUR EXPERTISE

HFX Managed Service is a supplementary service available to clients to help with these and other administrative tasks. After all, HFX are the experts when it comes to HFX software.

Based on the same simple pepm (per employee per month) pricing, HFX can now offer you their expertise in ensuring you always get the best from your system.

AUTOMATIC ALERTS

No more ‘work arounds’ or using the wrong reason code because you haven’t created the one you really need or managing exceptions as a result of the wrong pattern being worked.

Simply submit a request via the support portal and your request will automatically log the request and alert the HFX team.

If you are interested in how HFX can help you with:

  • Managing working patterns
  • Creating new adjustment reasons
  • Maintaining the org hierarchies
  • Adding a new device
  • Template setup and distribution management
  • Visitor and Contractor management
  • Mapping new pay-codes
  • Managing public holiday calendars
  • End user training

Just get in touch! *terms & conditions apply

Call 03333 44 7872, email sales@hfx.co.uk or visit http://www.hfx.co.uk

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.

What Does Brexit Mean for HR?

Since Freedom of Movement within the EU came into existence through the Maastricht treaty in 1992, UK companies have had access to an almost limitless pool of foreign worker to recruit into the workplace. As more countries joined the EU, this pool grew larger and filling vacancies within the company became a relatively simple task.

There was also an incentive for EU workers to work in the UK due to the favourable exchange rate bearing in mind that most would send part of their salary back home to their families (in 2015 £1 would get you €1.4). However, since the decision to leave the UK in 2016, the pound has slipped to about €1.10 to the pound for those EU nationals repatriating their earnings back home, this represented an effective 20% pay cut since 2016.

This has removed much of the incentive to work in the UK and many EU nationals have or are planning to return to their home country. In addition, the pending border controls have created uncertainty and concern among foreign workers in terms of whether they can remain in the UK and how easy it will be to travel back and forth. As a result, high numbers are returning to their native countries in order to have guaranteed stability for their families. At the same time, the number of foreign workers wanting to come and work in the UK has dropped off for the same reason – uncertainty following Brexit.

Figures from the ONS report that EU migration is at its lowest levels since 2010 and that the number of EU nationals returning home has increased by 50% since the referendum. For organisations that have relied on EU workers, this represents a significant challenge as not only are they losing workers, but also struggling to replace those workers through traditional routes. With the unemployment rate at 3.9% – its lowest level since 1974 – the available pool of workers has reduced even more significantly. The impact of these changes is likely to be felt across every HR department with longer lead times to fill a vacancy, increased recruitment budgets and inflations busting pay reviews.

However, whilst the HR department is often left with the problem, the solution may lie elsewhere. To understand the solution, we need to explore whether the limitless supply of workers diminishes the need to improve workforce productivity, since 2008 UK productivity has flat-lined. If the UK had continued to improve productivity as the same pre-2008 levels, then we would be 20% more productive. In practical terms this means that organisations could have achieved 20% more without increasing their staff headcount.

So, what went wrong? This has yet to be entirely answered, but there is a convincing argument that during the 2008 recession many organisations stopped investing in productivity improvements. When the growth did return many organisations took the expedient route of increasing the head count which was accommodated by the pool of available EU workers. Indeed, there is some correlation between the period of productivity stagnation and increased EU workers within the UK.

Regardless of what caused productivity stagnation, the solution lies within the organisation by focusing on and investing in staff productivity. If you can improve the productivity within your existing workforce by just 5% that can reduce the need to increase headcount. As always whilst the solution may not be within HR, often it is left to HR to lead the initiative.

Often productivity is considered hard to measure and organisations find it difficult to identify the areas that require improvement, but there are 5 key areas to explore;

  1. Workforce Planning: do staff rosters align to business demand? Is it such a basic question that it is more overlooked than any other factor? Often the question cannot even be answered without detailed study. In our experience there can often be a 10% productivity gain through alignment of rosters to business activity. Often the issue is that whilst the rosters were originally aligned – albeit with a bit of guess work – they were never updated to reflect the changing and evolving business activity.
  2. Process and Technology: too many manual and/or cumbersome processes that consume too much time and are inefficient.
  3. Training: poor or infrequent training results in poor quality (and increased rework).
  4. Tools: providing the right tools to do the job is essential in maintaining high levels of productivity.
  5. Staff Retention: high staff turnover impacts productivity significantly as new recruits take time to come up to speed and often require time and intervention from other colleagues.

Focusing on these 5 areas will boost productivity and ensure that more can be achieved without needing to add to headcount.

However, there is a greater prize. Companies with high productivity levels have lower costs, increased profit and are more resilient to economic cycles.

Whilst many problems end up on the desk of HR to solve, now is the time for HR to take a strategic lead and present the problem – and solution – to the wider business. At HFX our solutions are powerful tools to help you improve productivity. Contact us via email at sales@hfx.co.uk or via telephone at 03333447872 to find out how our software solutions can help your productivity. Alternatively visit: https://www.hfx.co.uk/solutions/workforce-optimisation/ to find out more.

A Guide to Workforce Management Solutions

WFM-What-is-it-5

Workforce Management Software (often shortened to WFM) addresses a specific need within an organisation regarding the operational planning, deployment and management of staff. WFM is generally sandwiched between HR and Payroll solutions with integration to each other. However, whilst HR and Payroll are generally admin solutions, WFM focuses more on the operational needs of the organisation.

WFM-Burger (002)

WFM often incorporates several core modules

Time and Attendance:

This provides the ability to record the attendance of staff often in real-time through data collection devices (Card or Biometric) and calculates the time a colleague has been at work, any absences, lateness and overtime.

This information is then passed (via integration) to the payroll system avoiding the need to manually enter and calculate hours to pay. This automates much of the manual activity, removes payroll errors and ensures equal and fair treatment of staff.

From an operational perspective it ensures managers are alerted if staff do not turn up for work enabling them to find immediate cover. From a management perspective it provides managers with data on lateness and absence so that they can take appropriate and timely action.

Naturally, every organisation is different and operate different polices. An advanced Time and Attendance module can cope with different environments and policies. For instance, in an office environment, they may operate a Flexitime policy and want to track hours worked, TOIL and ensure the Flexitime rules are adhered to.

An organisation with seasonal peaks and troughs may implement Annualised Hours for staff and require the Time and Attendance to manage this specific policy. Not all Time and Attendance solutions provide this flexibility.

Rostering:

The ability to plan your staff resources effectively can often be challenging for managers particularly where there is a need for specific skills at particular times of the day/week.

Almost every workforce management solution provides rostering, but this can be limited to basic planning (Shifts). Advanced solutions such as HFX enable more detailed planning and provide the ability to plan where the staff are going to be deployed (location), their activity, Cost Centre, Department or Client and even cost the plan against a budget for that team/department/cost centre.

This enables managers to ensure the right people are at the right place with the right skills at the right time. From an operational perspective this ensures that the work is completed on time and to budget. From a financial perspective it enables the organisation to ensure that project/contract is profitable whilst reducing the cost of overtime.

Productivity:

For those organisations that are heavily task/contract focused, it is important to ensure that staff productivity is monitored to ensure the organisation is providing an efficient and profitable service.

Measuring productivity varies from organisation to organisation, but generally focuses on measuring the time and/or cost of completing an activity (e.g. “packing”) or outputs (e.g. “widgets made”). Advanced workforce management solutions provide technology that enable staff to “Book onto” a task/activity and/or the number of outputs generated within that time-frame.

This real-time information is used by Operation Managers to identify non-productive areas, investigate and implement plans to improve efficiency such as training, technology or process improvements. From a finance perspective, managers gain valuable insight into the costs of production, activities and overall in terms of fulfilling contracts.

Table-1 (002)

Additional Modules within Workforce Management

Often Time and Attendance solutions capture data via card or biometric devices. Many organisations see the benefit in using a single system to manage not just attendance but also access to the building and secure areas. The advantage of using one card (or storing one biometric template) is obvious and so some workforce management providers have an Access Control module to facilitate this.

Visitor Registration is also a logical extension to workforce management so that a single system can track all people within the organisation (full time, part time, contractors, visitors etc) for the purposes of security, health & safety and roll-call (in case of fire).

Some providers also have a Lone Worker module so that staff who are remote or visit customer sites can be tracked to ensure their safety and also enable remote attendance recording.

Those organisations with varying demands (over the period of a day or week) often want to optimise their shift patterns so that they align with business demand. This often yields significant savings by eliminating “dead time” (where staff are at work but have nothing to do) and overtime (where lack of planned resource to meet demand requires overtime or agency staff). Workforce Design solves this complex problem by ensuring that requirements are met whilst considering fatigue, risk, human factors and legal requirements.

Table-2 (002)

In conclusion, Workforce Management solutions enable organisations to become more efficient though effective planning, accurate recording, automation, decision support and analytics. However, few are able to meet the breadth and depth of functionality required to address all aspects of workforce management.

HFX provides a complete suite of next generation cloud workforce management solutions. 

For more information contact us

What my kids taught me about Productivity

What my kids taught me about productivity

Firstly, I confess I made a mistake; we needed to write letters to just under half our customer base (650) before Christmas. This was part of our commitment to inform customers of new developments within our group.

We chose a letter (snail-mail) as these days email is more likely to hit the spam than get into the hands of the people you want to reach. My mistake was haste; Had I taken the time, I would have saved about 10-20% of the cost (about £60) by using a 3rd party.

However, I decided to do the mail merge and post in-house and was faced with the task of folding 650 letters and putting them into envelopes. My solution was to invite my children (I have 4 ranging from 8 to 13) to complete this task rather than burden my colleagues.

I calculated that it would take about 5 seconds per envelope and offered my children 5p per item. I was at first sceptical that at such young age they would grasp the potential prize (£32.50) if they completed whole project.

Initially I invited my youngest daughter Arabelle and her older brother Blake to the challenge. Enthusiastically they got to task immediately and within 5 minutes my oldest son joined the party.

Arabelle, independently came to the revelation that it was more efficient to fold all the letters first and then put them into the envelopes after, rather than switch tasks for each letter. She is only 8 years old yet came up with a way to optimise the task and improve her productivity.

Zach and Blake took this further by copying the idea and teaming up together (they agreed to share the rewards equally). They recognised the benefit of collaborating.

Halfway through my other son Jed turned up (he would normally spurn such an opportunity) but was inspired by the enthusiasm of his brothers and sister. He immediately joined the team. Arabelle being generous of heart agreed to team up with him and share the rewards even though she had already done a large amount of the work. She determined that she would fold whilst Jed would put in the envelope (another smart move) thereby focusing each on a specific task.

Naturally given it was now a competition and a limited number of opportunities (650), there was a pressure to cut corners and so I introduced a quality control process; The address needed to be fully visible in the window of the envelope. If it failed that test, then the envelope (and reward) would be handed to the other team for rework. From that point on quality control was embedded in the team and any queries were flagged up to me immediately (I took on the role of Quality Control Officer).

I was literally taken back by how quickly a group of kids could organise themselves, collaborate, optimise their activities and improve productivity without any direction.

With UK productivity still anaemic, there are some powerful lessons we can all learn from this;

  1. If you want productivity improvements, ask those who are doing the task – they know far more than you.
  2. Create a culture that encourages rather than frustrates the innate potential in people to improve efficiency.
  3. Improvements in productivity can be achieved very quickly if there is focus and incentives.
  4. Ensure quality control is embedded in the process not simply at the end.
  5. Measure and track the entire process to ensure continuous learning.
  6. Never underestimate the contribution of women in the workplace; my youngest daughter came up with the majority of productivity improvements. It is no surprise that the Mckinsey report identified that organisations with 30% or more female executives, are on average 15% more profitable (For more info watch our COO, Nicola Smart interviewed by the Telegraph Business Reporter)

For those interested in statistics

Arabelle and Jed achieved 259 with a failure rate of 0.77% (e.g. 2 that failed QC)

Zach and Blake achieved 311 with a failure rate of 1.93% (e.g. 6 that failed QC)

The failure rate was significantly below the industry average for manual processes.

Finally, the reason for the discrepancy (570 completed vs 650 letters) was down to management failure (me) to provide enough envelopes (I guess the final lesson here is to always invest in planning)

To find out more about hfx visit our main website or contact us