All functions of the organization are looking to streamline and transform. As Lakshmi Raj of Replicon explains, forward-thinking businesses have a lot to gain in bringing their time and attendance systems into the 21st century.
There are a few choice buzzwords that just about everyone in workforce management hears on a regular basis – among the top culprits: “streamline” and “transform.” As they say, use a word too many times and it becomes meaningless. In 2019, industry leaders are already looking forward to the next generation of time and attendance technology, and that means redefining these stale descriptors and giving them new life.
To do that, you must begin by acknowledging the history of time tracking. Timekeeping has come a long way since the days of paper punch cards and mechanical timestamps, but it was only recently that it truly entered the 21st century. Introducing cutting-edge biometric tech like facial identification, for example, has definitely changed the game – but one fundamental aspect of time and attendance seems to remain largely overlooked: labor compliance.
The industry today is still rife with lapses and violations in compliance. This is a result of businesses inundated with manual processes they still haven’t eliminated from their workflow – simple tasks, such as getting employees to fill out their timesheets as per business policies, approving each one and leaving HR to painstakingly check for errors. Moreover, payroll frequently ends up operating as an island outside the company ecosystem, resulting in extensive back-and-forth and confusion, putting compliance maintenance at an ever-increasing risk.
Despite the shortcomings, all of the above developments have been repeatedly characterized as “streamlined,” yet remain obtrusive, cumbersome and unreliable. Everyone desperately wants to be the new face of transformative time tracking, but up till now, most have neglected to transform compliance technology alongside everything else. To really achieve next-gen status, it’s time for something more drastic to be incorporated into the time and attendance landscape.
So where should a forward-thinking business begin?
The Obvious: Automating Compliance
Compliance has no middle ground; either you’re compliant, or you aren’t. And as businesses grow increasingly global and dispersed, both the complexity and importance of maintaining compliance grows exponentially. With variations in business policies, local laws and requirements in general, it’s more vital than ever to use a centralized platform expressly designed to manage wage-and-hour compliance across geographies. The days of HR or payroll teams (or individuals) scrambling to manage and interpret local compliance are over. Today, organizations have access to solutions capable of automatically complying with regular updates on new policies and pay rules in real time. Nothing less than an exhaustive, global compliance library should be included in this solution, or businesses essentially volunteer to risk compliance violations. Sometimes, however, compliance is not statutory – instead, it can rest on highly specific enterprise agreements or union rules that only serve to further complicate the situation. It’s high time that the industry simplifies handling these complex compliance use cases into their solutions, rather than relying on expensive and time-consuming customization projects every time.
The Engaging: Leveraging AI
Advanced intelligent tech, such as Face ID or chatbots, allows for automated and accessible data harvesting and seamless integration within an existing ecosystem. Consider: with facial identification, an employee simply walks up to their time clock and automatically logs in through facial recognition. Alternatively, a worker who prefers more of a natural conversation engages with a chatbot to track their hours on the clock. All the above time captured is fast, simple and – most importantly – accurate. Accurate time collection feeds into accurate compliance, of course, and with innovative, precise and adoptable AI tech leading the way, maintaining compliance and adhering to policy is virtually guaranteed.
The Innovative: Remote, Mobile-First and Modern
Remote work is not a trend – it’s made a stable home in today’s mobile and deskless workforce. Modern, accessible mobile apps are a critical component in meeting these workers’ self-service needs. Unobtrusive, advanced technologies including native apps, geo-location, geo-fencing and intelligent time clocks play an increasingly important role in gathering detailed data about the remote work performed, as well as associated costs and locations – giving departments the means to stay on the same page. All of this serves to unify a business, bringing us back to the importance of a centralized platform, reducing errors, remaining non-intrusive and – you guessed it – maintaining compliance.
The Here and Now: Real-Time Validations & Dynamic Approvals
Notifications, approvals and validations: All of these enable intelligent business workflows that serve as the first and second line of defense against errors. Modern organizations use these to ensure visibility into their workforce. Real-time validations for specifically selected exceptions and events stop inaccurate time collection in its tracks, but even if something does get through, these validations remind the supervisor to check for specific exceptions. When supervisors are no longer inundated with irrelevant data, they are free to focus on the work that actually deserves their time. All these benefits – maximized productivity, easy adoption, decreasing errors – trickle down to support compliance, even as policies change.
It’s easy to boast “streamlined” and “transformative” technology, but without a combined effort of mobile, modern, real-time and automated features, the claim ultimately falls a little flat, and compliance suffers. Genuinely “transformed” businesses will realize that the cutting-edge isn’t just LEDs and fingerprint scanning; cutting-edge incorporates compliance into every workflow instead of sidelining it and making expensive mistakes later. Only then will a business find they are a truly transformative contribution to time and attendance.