Blog: There is no substitute for good management

“Now I have a time clock how do I get my staff to remember to use it!”

This is a reasonably common experience for managers or business owners who implement a new time clock system. In the first few weeks after installation employees many need a little prompting so that they remember but if the problem is ongoing then the time clock is not doing its job and the investment has not been worthwhile.

Why do employees forget to clock in or out? This can be for a number of reasons but generally speaking its either deliberate or simply the result of forgetfulness. If its deliberate then it could be because they arrive late and finish early and do not want that recorded in the time clock. It could also be that they follow the lead of their fellow workers or sometimes management staff, who are equally uncommitted to the system.

If it is forgetfulness then that is because there probably no consequences of forgetting and no reward for compliance. Consequences such as being short paid for the week or being reprimanded by a senior manager. The rewards are a little less tangible but no less important – people feel better when they are doing the right thing, its as simple as that.

Perhaps the best way to overcome this problem is to look at the implementation success stories and what approach has worked in the respective organisations.

Within my company’s client base of some 2,500 organisations ranging from under 5 employees to over 1000 employees by far the best examples of employee compliance in using the time clocks comes from those companies who adopt the following practices.

1) Commitment to the process at all levels of management – This means that Management also use the system to clock in and out and are clear in their expectations that all staff will do the same. Management must address the issues with non compliant staff and act accordingly.

2) Each day is paid according to attendance records and no attempt is made to follow up on employees who have not clocked IN and OUT. If an employee forgets to clock out for the day then they must have their direct manager correct the issue and log a time for them by the end of the payroll week otherwise that days pay will be help off until the following week. Leave days are handled in the normal way with leave application forms presented to payroll at an appropriate time. As ruthless as some of this may sound to some this strategy will have an immediate impact on the “forgetful employee”.

3) Employees are acknowledged for their assistance in transitioning the company from manual to electronic attendance recording. After all there are benefits to employees in that a time & Attendance System can, improve record keeping, reduce the time required to process employee payroll and assist with OH&S compliance. All these factors translate into better business practices and that in turn benefits all employees.

These strategies rely on there being consequences of the employee’s non compliant performance… short paid for the week or a negative performance appraisal by his or her manager. Staff in general want to comply with the rules and the practices adhered to by the rest of the employees and the management team so its a good idea to leverage off this.

While there are some methods of improving the reliability of employees clocking reliability, such as linking the system to open the front door of your building, there are ways around this as employees can “tailgate” other employees through the door. In any case this does not help with the out clocking and you cannot restrict access on the door when going out as this contravenes fire safety regulations…. it’s not a good idea to have employees lined up at the exit all trying to get the door open using fingerprint access!

Employee log-ins can be linked to their PC log-in and log-out but that is not foolproof either. Quite simply there is no practical physical way to make sure employees always clock in and out… it must be done on a “reward and consequence” basis.

An employee time clock is rarely a substitute for good management. If management do not set a good example and set clear expectations for employees it is inevitable that employee performance in many areas will be slowly eroded. Your management should set clear and enforceable expectations for performance in all aspects of the business. Compliance to attendance recording is as important as the quality of work produced by employees on behalf of their business.

The following important factors may assist you in getting the message across regarding the importance of employee attendance recording.

Employees are required to use the company’s time recording system if requested by their employer¬† as evidence of their attendance as a general condition of any employment.

Employee attendance recording is a requirement under the OH&S Act and, in the event of a fire, Directors and Company Officers may be fined under the act for failure to have an adequate evacuation plan in place which includes a record of employees on site regardless of whether or not there are any injuries or fatalities.

In conclusion, if you have purchased a bundy clock primarily to overcome a management issue and it has not been successful it is no great surprise. However, there is now a great opportunity to turn this around but it will involve commitment from management and it may involve a closer look at workplace culture.

The Time & Attendance Consultant