Covid forever changed the need to manage white collar time and attendance. A tool previously regarded as appropriate for blue collar and rostered roles, now provides employers with critical MI to manage four key workforce challenges that hybrid and flexible work presents.

Guest article, written by Simon Garrity, Senior Workforce Management Expert at Protime.

The challenge to balance business and employee needs

Managing the needs

The first challenge is to manage the needs of the business with employee expectations. Employees with office-based roles expect to be able to work on a hybrid or remote basis, some or all the time, and are prepared to move jobs to get it.  At the same time, faced with a national productivity crisis, managers are under pressure to show leaders that flex and hybrid working doesn’t result in productivity dips.

Despite noise in the press about a forced return to office, rising office vacancies tell a different story.  Hybrid is here to stay and that means organisations need to get to grips with optimising productivity across a hybrid and flex workforce.

Frustrated employee

Complying with the legislation

That need has become more urgent with the introduction of new legislation giving employees the right to request flexible work arrangements from day one.  This presents a second challenge; managers must have quick and easy access to evidence to demonstrate compliance with the law.

Managing the Employee Value Proposition

Compliance issues aside, competitive employers are constantly striving with a third challenge - to strengthen their Employee Value Proposition to drive talent attraction, retention and engagement. While hybrid is a core component of this offer, nothing undermines EVP faster than employees feeling overworked and burnt out.  However desirable employees find hybrid, without intentional management, remote employees frequently feel the need to work excess hours or respond to emails outside of core hours to show they aren’t shirking from home.
Similarly, where employers have adopted “flex for all” policies to support their EVP, managers need to demonstrate the policy is being applied fairly or risk employee disengagement. That means having the evidence to show an employee’s need for flexibility is being met. Whether it’s to manage child or elder care with work responsibilities or to pursue a sport or hobby.  Evidence shows the policy is being applied equitably.
Together, these challenges create a need for organisations to have a quick and reliable way to gather and analyse workforce work patterns.  While tech provides the means to achieve this, a rash of “big brother” style surveillance stories in the media are creating a negative perception of time and attendance tools that organisations must overcome before employees properly engage with them.  Here are five conversations managers can have with employees to build trust and engagement.

5 conversations to build employee engagement with workforce management systems

1. Be clear on your why

Employees need to understand time and attendance data is not being collected to keep tabs on them.  Rather to protect and improve their wellbeing and optimise performance during peak busy times while avoiding burnout.

2. Flexible fairness 

Use the introduction of new flex legislation as an opportunity to communicate to employees how technology supports managers to ensure any flexible working policies are being applied fairly and that staff are being fairly compensated for the hours they work.

3. Data empowers employees to manage their workload 

Time and attendance tools provide employees with data-led evidence that makes it easier to have a constructive conversation with their manager about workload.  Whether that’s anticipating pressure points or ensuring holiday and time off in lieu is taken, data enables employees to feel more in control of their workload and to take joint responsibility with their manager for finding mutually agreeable solutions

4. Adopt a preventative approach to employee wellness 

Managers don’t want to lose good people due to poor work-life balance.  Any investment in health and wellbeing support will fall flat if an employer doesn’t first remove the causes of stress and burnout.  Workforce MI enables employers to spot opportunities to better manage workload before a problem arises or escalates causing the employee unnecessary stress and the organisation illness-related absence.

5. Action plan

Conversations remain good intentions until action is taken.  Managers that show staff they have acted on the data reinforce staff engagement with capturing MI.  

Simon Garrity, Protime workforce management expert
Hybrid and flex workforce presents managers complex workforce challenges. Equipping managers and employees with critical MI, enables them to create the right environment for high-performing staff to thrive.
Simon Garrity
Workforce management expert at Protime
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Written by: Isabelle Fassin
International Field Marketeer