T&A: Trends and challenges

Time and Attendance has in the past been used for payroll purposes, to provide information on employee presence and absences. HR professionals could use this info for planning, to comply with legal constraints and print out payslips. Processes were thus automated: calculation of overtime, triggering of bonuses, etc.

At the end of the 1990s, the implementation of new online solutions made it possible to delegate some of T&A to managers in the field, in particular for checking the scheduling of tasks and activities. Companies could therefore better anticipate and manage absences and resources (by occasionally using temp workers). The decentralization of processes made T&A more efficient and thus made it easier to set up workflows between employees, managers and HR professionals.

Anticipating and adapting working hours to the actual workload

In the 2000s, business processes were gradually decentralized. At the same time, new requirements appeared, such as the need for managers to determine whether or not tasks could actually be performed and completed. Today, managers would like to be able to evaluate the workload that is actually feasible based on the teams available. Companies have therefore provided their solutions with analysis tools capable of producing workload indicators.

In addition to providing info on planning, T&A should also allow managers to efficiently handle unforeseen circumstances, such as unscheduled absences, reorganizing teams, modifications of requirements or to tools. It should help you to quickly assess impact of such situations and anticipate the responses and offer solutions (such as lending staff or using people from outside the company).

Each business segment has its own work methods to meet the challenges of the market involved. In certain sensitive segments, you need to schedule the available resources far in advance. The need to plan in advance appeared quite early, with the implementation of the ‘3X8’ system (shift work), for example, where three consecutive teams work the same job or in the hospital sector to ensure continuity of service.

Today, new methods are providing even greater flexibility in company working hours. Depending on the labor agreements or special company agreements, managers can divide the workload up among the employees, distributing work hours according to ‘high’ or ‘low’ periods in order to meet requirements.

A more flexible work schedule and the development of multiple skills requires a suitable time management system

In certain areas of activity, the annualized working hours has sped up the implementation of flexible work methods, with very precise info on daily activities and self service solutions have also been set up to improve communication between the employee and manager. Work hours can thus vary from day to day, depending on the activity. A single employee can also be assigned to several different managers.

In the hotel industry, for example, an employee can work 2 different shifts in one day and perform several tasks, under 2 managers! Such shifts can also differ according to the work planned (whether it be for the start and end times of the shift or the length of the shifts) and tailored to periods of high and low activity.

The trend is towards developing multiple skills in different fields to become more efficient and optimize the work schedule. We are therefore seeing more ‘multi-skilled’ profiles. A T&A solution must be capable of identifying an employee’s skills so that a manager can determine what resources to assign to a project. This often requires interoperability between T&A, administrative management and job-skills management integrated into the HRIS.

Employees actively involved in scheduling

To make today’s complex T&A simpler, some companies have opted to actively involve employees in scheduling their work hours. Employees can use the T&A tool to enter their working hour preferences and the manager will take these into account when organizing schedules. In some cases, employees can even select their working hours directly. An arbitration process using counters can be set up if there is disagreement among employees.

There are an increasing number of Agile methods that focus on reaching a consensus on the work schedule. These encourage employee engagement and help improve the quality of life at work. Such methods may be ‘win-win’, but for them to function correctly the managers must determine requirements sufficiently early so that their teams can work together to create their schedules.

Employees, on the other hand, need tools that are user-friendly and easily accessible so they can enter their preferences or requests and view their schedules. These tools should enhance the user experience by complying with work schedule legislation, while hiding the complexities of the business rules that need to be implemented.

With the arrival of new ways of working, such as working from home, this trend will spread and we will require tools that can be accessed anywhere, anytime and that can help us in the digital transformation of processes and companies.