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Seven signs you need a time and attendance solution

10/03/2023 minute read Julie Lock

For all the rapidly accelerated growth the working world has seen over the past few years, a universal constant has been that old aphorism that time = money. Despite this, many organisations are still lagging behind when it comes to their ability to accurately track the hours worked by their people, and crucially the money businesses are putting behind these hours.

Time and attendance solutions have traditionally had a bit of a negative reputation, particularly among employees- in the past, it’s been an easy mistake to view them as tools to help enable micromanagement and offer draconian supervisors or managers a way of constantly monitoring and punishing their people for the smallest infraction.

Even from an HR team's perspective, defining the need for a time and attendance system can be quite tricky on paper. The requirements for HR and Payroll solutions are fairly self-evident but it is all too common for time and attendance solutions to be seen as a nebulous additional cost that adds little value to a business.

At Advanced, we think the truth is much simpler. The fact is that time does actually cost money and beyond that, inefficient time tracking has a way of creating continuous roadblocks which can go a long way toward derailing productivity. Time and attendance solutions can offer the effective oversight you need to give you the peace of mind you deserve to move away from needless HR admin headaches and focus on what matters most to your business and your people.

We believe that the need for a time and attendance solution is deceptively simple, which is why we’ve put together this checklist to help you understand the seven signs that you may need a time and attendance system that can plug potential gaps in your time management processes, and how finding the right solution can help you overcome these challenges.


Sign one- Too much reliance on manual processes.

As with any aspect of your business, reliance on manual processes increases your risk of human error muddying your information and decision-making process. Manual input also represents a significant time sink which leaves your HR teams with precious few hours in the week to focus on more meaningful tasks.

These inefficiencies are only compounded once inevitable errors crop up, meaning that management or people teams are left laboriously combing through data in the hope of being able to identify and correct anomalies.

Furthermore, the heightened human-error factor can lead to unacceptable compromises of data integrity. HR teams routinely deal with sensitive people data on a daily basis and it is simply unacceptable to allow reliance on manual processes to spiral into security breaches.

Manual processes are most prevalent when an organisation becomes reliant on an out-of-date solution. Making the jump to a new system can often seem daunting and it is all too easy for a business to stick with what they know, regardless of the roadblocks and headaches their current solution may present.

Ultimately, reliance on manual processes represents an unacceptable time sink, one which means your people teams are missing out on the opportunity to leverage their talents in more influential ways. This is the first sign that you need a time and attendance solution.


Sign two- Miscalculated wages and payroll inefficiencies.

The link between an organisation’s time and attendance processes and payroll function is often overlooked but the two are fundamentally dependent on each other. The accuracy of the data being fed through to payroll teams will determine the speed and effectiveness of the next payroll cycle. Errors in tracking hours worked will inevitably lead to inaccuracies in wages paid or delays in running your payroll, which is especially unacceptable during times of external stress.

Did you know?: In recent years, UK workers on average have put in roughly £35 billion in unpaid overtime. 

Your payroll team performs a vital role month after month ensuring the accuracy of your payroll and that your people are paid on time. Accuracy with wages is crucial as any discrepancies or delays can seriously impact the financial wellbeing of your employees as well as affect their levels of engagement at work. Inaccuracies can also lead to potential legal challenges which any organisation will be keen to avoid.

Your ability to pay your people accurately and on time is also a reflection of your organisation as a whole. Businesses that fall behind in this sense run the risk of being painted in a negative light, particularly from the perspective of recruitment. As businesses are looking to attract new talent in order to drive their future success, a reputation as being unreliable with pay will not make your organisation an attractive prospect for job candidates.

Overpayment of wages also presents its own unique challenges and ultimately leads to your payroll teams wasting valuable time in their work chasing down the source of errors and correcting them. If you or your payroll professionals find themselves battling query after query on inaccurate pay then this could be an important second sign that you need a time and attendance system to help accurately track hours worked and calculate pay.


Sign three- Buddy clocking, timesheet fraud and time theft.

Buddy punching, time theft, or timesheet fraud is the phenomenon by which employees clock in and swipe keycards or scan fobs on behalf of their colleagues, circumventing the usual systems of checks and balances. This ultimately results in employees being paid for work they have not done, costing companies across the UK thousands in lost productivity every year. Studies have found that a company can lose as much as 7% of its profits due to time theft!

Buddy punching is nothing new; workers have been doing this as long as clocking-in systems have existed. One of the main reasons for this is the simple fact that manual-based processes such as key cards or fobs have facilitated this.

Buddy punching is often a direct result of employees manipulating known flaws within the systems they use. Manual processes such as time sheets and peripherals like keycards and fobs make it all too easy for buddy punching to flourish.

The most obvious impact of buddy punching on businesses is the financial losses accrued by inaccurate timekeeping. What is spoken of less frequently however is how a culture of buddy punching can impact the wider workforce in more fundamental ways. Employees who make a habit of lateness or buddy punching inevitably find that the shortfall in their hours has to be made up for by their colleagues, leading to additional strain for employees and breeding an air of discontent amongst the workforce. If you think your business is a victim of buddy clocking or timesheet fraud, but wouldn’t even know how to start measuring the thousands of pounds you’re losing, then this could be a third very important sign that the time is right to invest in time and attendance software.


Sign four- Spiraling costs from unexpected absences.

A good absence management strategy is vital when it comes to insulating yourself from unexpected disruption and ensuring business continuity and success, no matter the circumstances. Unchecked absences can cause an unacceptable domino effect on your business, which in turn can compound existing challenges and stresses.

Did you know?: A survey by the CIPD found that businesses lose on average £550 per employee in costs related to sick leave or unexpected absences. If left unchecked, these costs can spiral out of control and the working days lost to absence can have far wider-reaching impacts on business continuity.

Having a clear understanding of absences within your organisation allows you to mitigate the financial impacts of workplace disruption and by monitoring sickness patterns, your HR teams are able to effectively engage with employees regarding sick leave and any difficulties they may be facing.

Inefficient or outdated time and attendance processes make this near impossible, however. A lack of visibility around absences means that people teams aren’t armed with the information they need to drive forward meaningful discussions with employees, or able to get the right people into the right place at the right time.

Furthermore, an effective time and attendance solution should afford organisations the agility and flexibility they need to account for even the most unexpected incidences of absence and ensure that they are able to source adequate cover. If spiraling absence costs and an inability to react quickly to mitigate these threats are being felt by your business, you should begin your journey of choosing a time and attendance solution.


Sign five- No real-time view of people data.

Real-time view of people data is critical across all levels of a business. From the wider scope of HR teams to the more focused view of shift running managers, a lack of visibility can throw up unacceptable roadblocks to transforming your people experience or even putting together a crisis combat strategy. Older core HR solutions can often lock data hidden away in silos, making it needlessly inaccessible for core users and effectively hampering ongoing strategy.

One of the greatest assets of time and attendance solutions is that they enable connectivity between teams and also encourage erstwhile separate elements of an organisation to work in a more collaborative fashion. When thinking about your current setup, wouldn’t it be life-changing to have a truly intelligent system in place, one where your clocking devices and time and attendance solution could speak seamlessly with your payroll?

At its core, time and attendance solutions are all about providing you with the information that you need to drive success. Information is a fairly neutral thing in and of itself but the point of gathering the proper metrics is to best inform businesses of any areas in which they need to devote their time and resources. Time and attendance at its heart is all about giving you the information you need in order to drive success.

Real-time data is critical in affording businesses the agility they need across the board for effective day-to-day operations. In light of ongoing crises too, the need for flexibility in daily processes is even more pronounced, meaning that the hurdles and roadblocks thrown up by older systems can suddenly become even more untenable. 


Sign six- Inability to efficiently schedule shifts.

The role of a shift running manager can be extremely hectic. Fast-paced environments such as within the manufacturing and distribution sectors often operate 24 hours a day and when work doesn’t sleep, neither do the problems that come along with it. Shift running managers have to ensure they have the right people in place to cover all hours of the working day.

Errors and gaps can arise in all sorts of areas, particularly when employees take unplanned absences or swap shifts. While individual instances of either may not seem so troublesome, there is an old aphorism about a small stone starting an avalanche, which is never truer than when discussing keeping on top of the time and attendance of your people.


Did you know?: According to research by the Living Wage Foundation 38% of UK workers are given less than a week’s notice of their upcoming schedule. 

Shift managers need visibility of their people: of their hours worked, of sickness absences, and of leave requests booked. They need to know which qualifications or training they need to account for when a given employee is away from the business, they need the advanced knowledge and the agility to be able to adapt to any disruptions to the schedule.

In order to account for the myriad complexities within scheduling, more and more organisations are now looking for a degree of auto-rostering functionality within their time and attendance solutions. Auto-rostering is a multi-platform smart scheduling application for all industry sectors, designed to make complex staff rostering easy, saving time and money.

Auto-rostering optimises the allocation of employees to shifts and will take into consideration all active complex constraints and rostering rules, employee availability, and employee skill sets to get the right person in the right place at the right time. Good time and attendance solutions should incorporate auto-rostering modules seamlessly to help track, create and maintain agile and effective shift patterns that maximise the productivity of your business. If your business isn’t able to run good shift patterns, it’s probably time to consider a time and attendance solution.


Sign seven- Inability to cost jobs and projects accurately.

We’ve already discussed how manual processes and unfit-for-purpose systems can present numerous roadblocks and challenges around inaccurate or inaccessible data. How can these inefficiencies have a broader impact on an organisation’s ability to ideate and push forward future strategies?

Did you know?: According to research by the Office of National Statistics, Labour Costs in the United Kingdom increased to an all time high of 111.50 points in the second quarter of 2022, meaning that belt and braces operational requirements such as keeping shifts staffed and under budget, is becoming increasingly fraught for organisations.

A key factor of any project is the ability to accurately forecast costs. Inaccurate people management data can lead to a fundamental misrepresentation of job costing, leading to administrative headaches down the line and a general erosion of confidence in future planning, especially at times of considerable external pressure.

Being able to pull accurate and up to date information on employee attendance across various sites and projects will be absolutely critical in helping businesses keep a handle on not only ongoing costs but resource allocation where appropriate to various areas of the organisation. Your time and attendance solutions will be critical in affording you the ability to stay on top of costing demands in real time, being more efficiently responsive to challenges as and when they rear their head.

The accuracy of data afforded by your time and attendance solutions ultimately helps your projects stay on track and within budget. Organisations who choose to stay with an outdated solution open themselves up to a number of potential challenges around scheduling and costing, any one of which could severely derail an ongoing project.

What’s next?

At Advanced, we believe that time and attendance systems have the power to not only free your HR teams from admin headaches and manual-based processes but to also free your organisation wholesale from rigid working structures. If you think that your business should be starting the search for a time and attendance solution, but don’t know what exactly you should be looking for out there, then why not read our guide on How to Choose a Time and Attendance Solution?

Alternatively, if you’re ready to jump in and find out more about how Advanced can help you, our time and attendance solution offers organisations the unmatched ability to gain operational control and support for the day-to-day management of their workforce. Our analytics suite means the information you need to take control of your business is always at your fingertips and our market-leading self-service functionality means that your employees can take ownership of their schedules, freeing your HR teams from the burden of admin-heavy tasks. Our Advanced Time and Attendance software brochure gives you all the information you need if you’re ready to make a decision.

We believe that technology can help you achieve more with your business. We believe in empowering your people and giving them the tools they need to thrive and help drive forward the success that your organisation deserves.

If you would like to find out more about how our time and attendance solutions can help unlock the power of your people, get in touch today.