Biggest Workplace Time Wasters

Posted on

June 21st, 2022

by

Unauthorized absences are a multifaceted problem for employers. Employee absences are expensive, as salaried employees continue to draw a paycheck even if they don’t work. The company may have to pay other employees overtime if they must work longer to cover the work the absent employee didn’t complete. Productivity diminishes along with workplace morale as they shoulder the burden of an additional workload. Work quality is also likely to suffer as team members attempt to shift between multiple projects.

However, absenteeism isn’t the only attendance issue companies need to manage. Employees at all organizational levels waste time at some point while at work. The following are some of the most common time wasters during business hours:

  1. Email. Employees check their email more than 120 times per day. More often than not, they’re doing this in an attempt to be productive. Employees rely on email for most workplace communication. They check their inbox frequently to avoid missing an important email. However, this activity derails productivity, as employees spend 28% of their workweek checking their inboxes.
  2. Blurring personal and professional communication. Employees use their phones for work regularly. It’s a short leap to go from answering an email to replying to a friend’s text. Employees spend nearly an hour of their workday reading and replying to personal texts and taking personal phone calls. Employees spend 1.5 hours on social media daily, too. That’s 2.5 hours per day (more than 30%) spent on personal communication through texts, phone calls, and social sites.
  3. Aimless meetings. Meetings can enhance productivity and make sure team members understand project goals. However, poorly planned meetings, overly long meetings, and unnecessary meetings waste a significant amount of time. Employees perceive this and find other ways to spend their time. For example, 91% of employees daydream during meetings, 73% bring other work to do, and 39% admit to falling asleep.
  4. Busy work. Many tedious workplace processes are essential but consume too much of the workday (e.g., calculating or balancing accounts and filling out attendance records daily). Employees spend a cumulative total of an entire workday on menial jobs throughout the workweek.

The time spent on checking emails, personal communication, and menial tasks add up to almost 22 hours a week—over half of a typical work schedule. Automating specific tasks can help reduce the amount of busy work and subsequent boredom (a significant trigger for wasted time). Actec’s absence tracking mobile app allows employees to submit leave requests for sick days, holidays, and paid time off via a phone call, text or chat, or the app itself. It delivers all the data to a centralized location to easily identify absence trends and make data-based decisions for addressing attendance issues. Contact us to learn more about streamlining absence management.

How to Bring Reluctant Employees Back to the Workplace

Posted on

June 7th, 2022

by

As the pandemic restrictions loosen in severity, many businesses are resuming in-office work hours. However, not all employees are excited to return to the workplace, and their reasons aren’t as clearcut as employers may believe. The following are some illuminating insights into employees’ reluctance to resume onsite work and how to address them.

It’s Easier to Be Productive at Home

Depending on the employee’s home situation, they may have significantly fewer distractions. After all, their house doesn’t have the frequent opportunities for breakroom chitchat or the irritation of difficult coworkers. They also don’t have to contend with the noise that is ubiquitous to most office spaces. With two-thirds of employees reporting greater productivity while working from home, many are asking why they should have to come into the office. Offering work-from-home days can ease the transition back to the office while providing the flexibility and comfort of working from home. Employers can also rearrange their offices to create more effective spaces for quiet, independent work and collaborative work.

Burnout Disguised as Productivity

Employees may feel more productive at home, but it often comes at the expense of longer working hours and increased stress in the home. It’s not always easy to cut off work when it’s always within arm’s reach. The idea of commuting and socializing with colleagues adds an unacceptable layer of stress to burnt-out employees. Employers can take steps to reduce burnout by offering flexible work schedules that match employees’ family and household obligations, implementing wellness programs that focus on employees’ mental health, and encouraging and supporting vacation time.

The Pandemic is Still a Concern

Although COVID restrictions are easing, the threat still looms for many individuals. They or someone they live with may have comorbidities that put them at high risk for severe COVID complications. It’s also significantly different to dine outdoors at a restaurant than it is to thrust themselves into an enclosed space with dozens of colleagues. They can’t be certain if everyone is taking the same precautions as they are, and they’re worried about the health risks. Companies can address this by highlighting their increased sanitation protocols, requiring masks, performing daily health checks, or requiring proof of vaccination/a weekly negative COVID test for all employees.

Addressing employee concerns about returning to work is essential for attendance. Employees are more likely to call out or refuse to return at all if they feel their employer is disregarding their health and wellbeing. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about mitigating absenteeism as your employees return to the office.

How to Create an Office Environment Employees Will Love

Posted on

April 19th, 2022

by

FNOLThe pandemic forced many companies to shift to an all-remote staff, but many are returning to the office as the omicron surge wanes. Flexibility and the option to telework are here to stay, and employees are likely to divide their time between the office and at home. However, employees have grown used to their home offices. The layout is to their liking, snacks are readily available, and their productivity is impressive. If their workspace at the office falls short by comparison, they aren’t going to want to be there. It’s also likely to tank their engagement and hinder their work output.

Office spaces should energize and motivate employees rather than leaving them underwhelmed and apathetic. Here are several ideas to cultivate workspaces that employees will love.

Create Collaborative Spaces

Teams need spaces to engage, bounce around ideas, and form a cohesive plan. Depending on the company culture and space availability, employees may prefer to gather on comfortable couches in break rooms, meet at a round table, or book a formal closed-door meeting. Stocking these rooms with tools that inspire creative collaboration (e.g., whiteboards and dry erase markers) can maximize their effectiveness.

Define Quiet Productivity Areas

Many employees struggled with distractions from pets, kids, family members, or other people living in the house while telecommuting. The workplace should seek to eliminate these noisy interruptions for times when employees need to focus. Meeting rooms away from the main office thoroughfare work well for this purpose, or companies can designate a productivity space that discourages phone calls, loud conversations, music, etc.

Design Workspaces with Employee Wellbeing in Mind

Enhanced cleaning protocols became the norm as the pandemic progressed, but companies can do much more to make the workplace a relaxing and supportive environment. Dark workspaces can leave employees feeling lethargic and unproductive. Increasing natural lighting in workspaces does wonders for employees’ happiness and engagement. Companies can achieve this with easy and cost-effective changes, such as moving workspaces to well-lit areas, adding mirrors to reflect the light, or using bright lights that mimic natural sunlight if it isn’t possible to rearrange the office layout. Eliminating clutter can also improve employees’ moods, as visual clutter often overwhelms employees and increases their stress.

The change to exclusively telecommuting happened quickly, and employees had little time to adjust. Businesses have much more control over the return-to-office process. Creating a workspace that employees want to use doesn’t have to be grand or cost prohibitive. Simple changes to layout and lighting can improve employees’ mood, productivity, and desire to go to the office.

The office setting needs to support employees’ creativity, productivity, and mental wellbeing. If their home offices are better equipped, companies may struggle to transition their workforce back into the workplace. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about what influences employee attendance and how you can improve it.

4 Simple Steps to Improve Employee Attendance and Engagement

Posted on

April 5th, 2022

by

absence reporting

COVID-19 has forever altered the concept of business as usual. Many businesses transitioned to a remote workforce at the onset of the pandemic. Now, some are reopening their offices, but employees expect to have continued flexibility. The pandemic isn’t over, and employees may still need flexible hours or the option to work remotely should COVID affect their household.

Employees’ mental health has also become a top priority for companies. Businesses are implementing several changes to reflect this trend, such as:

  • Offering mental health days
  • Adding mental health services to insurance plans
  • Encouraging employees to stay home when they feel unwell
  • Increasing PTO

Employee burnout is at an all-time high, and ignoring their mental health or work-life balance needs can lead to disengagement and rampant absenteeism. Consider implementing the following trends to sustain attendance and productivity:

  1. Remove the stigma of using PTO. Many employees feel like they can’t use their PTO without repercussions unless they give ample notice, such as taking time off for vacations. However, employees can’t predict mental health challenges or burnout. Fostering a culture that encourages employees to use PTO when they need it can help employees rest when they need to and return to work refreshed.
  2. Focus on employee retention. Many companies expend considerable energy on continually improving the customer experience, and employees deserve that same courtesy. Companies that consistently recognize their employees’ value and efforts experience greater employee loyalty and less absenteeism.
  3. Trust employees. Employees resent micromanagement, particularly while dealing with the stressors introduced by the pandemic. Provide clear productivity expectations and deadlines, but trust employees to manage their schedules. Companies can ensure projects stay on track by monitoring employees’ work output rather than scrutinizing or dissecting their work hours.
  4. Invest in absence management software. Absence management software helps businesses identify attendance trends and unusual absences. Employers can use this information to implement data-driven changes to improve attendance and employee engagement.

Actec understands the attendance challenges businesses are facing as the pandemic continues to affect business operations. Our self-service absence-tracking mobile app captures all attendance data without the need to contact multiple departments or managers. Employees can also use the app to submit leave requests, either by phone, text, chat, or within the app itself. Contact us to discuss your absence reporting and tracking needs.

Top Reasons Why You Need Employee Attendance Tracking Software

Posted on

March 8th, 2022

by

Employee absences have a ripple effect on productivity. Projects come to a halt if a team member isn’t present to complete their part. Other employees may pick up the slack to meet the project deadline, but their morale is likely to suffer under the increased workload. Other attendance issues can also sew discord among staff, such as an employee who regularly arrives late without consequences.

The Types of Attendance to Track

Certain employee absences are inevitable, such as an employee falling ill or using their vacation leave. However, failing to track all areas of attendance can create blind spots that lead to chronic absenteeism. The following are the primary attendance markers companies need to know:

  • Arriving late
  • Leaving early
  • No show without notice and without calling
  • Sick leave
  • Paid time off (PTO)

Some businesses offer other forms of leave, such as maternity leave, bereavement leave, and mental health days. Which metrics a company chooses to track depend largely on the company’s culture and attendance policy.

The Importance of Attendance Tracking Software

Manual attendance systems are too easy to fool. The most prevalent issue with manual systems is buddy punching. Employees may clock each other in or out to hide tardiness or early departures. Using a mobile app provides better attendance data and simplifies many aspects of absence management. A mobile app centralizes all leave requests, and it simplifies the process of requesting leave for employees.

Businesses can also use the data to identify attendance trends, which may uncover more significant issues. For example, if employees in a certain department arrive late and leave early consistently, it can indicate there is an issue with the manager. Addressing these issues early can prevent systemic absenteeism and potentially improve morale. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about improving absence management with our absence tracking mobile app.

Warning Signs of Employee Burnout: Don’t Miss Them

Posted on

January 18th, 2022

by

Employees may quip about burnout, but true burnout goes beyond a brief dip in energy after completing a challenging project. Employees can rebound from short-term stressors after taking a break. Chronic workplace stress has farther-reaching effects. A long weekend away from work can’t overcome the exhaustion, frustration, and disengagement caused by burnout.

Burnout happens for several reasons. Employees may have a poor work-life balance, a toxic manager, problems at home, a dysfunctional team, or unrealistic productivity expectations put upon them. The ongoing pandemic adds another layer of constant stress, and employees are struggling with burnout more than ever.

Employee burnout isn’t abrupt, and employers can take steps to prevent it from worsening. Many employers are familiar with the common signs of burnout. These include emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion; disengagement; loss of productivity; cynicism toward their work; and increased sensitivity to critique. Burnout can also cause physical symptoms, such as panic attacks, nausea, and headaches.

However, burnout can start with subtle symptoms that management may not recognize. Employers that know these signs can take proactive steps to address them and prevent them from worsening. Some lesser-known indicators of burnout include:

  1. More frequent illnesses. The physical manifestations can go beyond headaches and stomach troubles. Excess stress increases employees’ susceptibility to illnesses. Burnt-out employees may also use sick leave because they can’t handle the stress of going to work. Regardless, a sudden uptick in absences due to illness can be an early indicator of burnout.
  2. Behavioral changes. Sudden behavioral changes can take several forms. A once punctual employee may start to arrive late or duck out early. A bubbly employee may become withdrawn and surly. A shift in grooming and wardrobe can also be a red flag, as it indicates the employee no longer cares about their appearance.
  3. Workplace socialization changes. Once outgoing employees may abruptly become distant if they’re struggling with burnout. Social employees may isolate themselves or snap at coworkers who attempt conversation. The pandemic has made this symptom harder to spot, as many employees are working from home.
  4. Working harder. Left unchecked, burnout will eventually result in disengagement and lost productivity. However, an employee that abruptly doubles down on work is a subtle early symptom of burnout. Employees struggling with burnout often experience a loss of confidence in their work. Some feel compelled to prove themselves to their employer, which manifests as working through lunch or consistently working overtime.
  5. In the initial stages of burnout, an employee’s quality of work may begin to suffer. These changes aren’t dramatic and can present as a lack of attention to detail, barely meeting deadlines, or turning work in late. These employees often don’t seem to care about turning in sloppy work, either.

Burnout is on the rise as a result of the public health crisis and subsequent labor shortages, but also because many corporate environments have become complacent or inattentive. Of particular relevance is that it can be harder to recognize the signs with a remote workforce. Web meetings are a part of the solutions, with increased visibility and communication. But absence tracking software makes it easier to identify attendance trends, such as absenteeism or an uptick in sick leave. Actec’s absence tracking mobile app is a self-service tool that centralizes all your attendance data. Contact us to discuss your absence management needs.

The Number 1 Reason Companies Fail to Retain Employees

Posted on

November 23rd, 2021

by

The pandemic forced many employees to reconsider their work situation. More time at home allowed people to view their career through a different lens, and many workers decided they’ve had enough of the stress of their job. However, a high rate of burnout isn’t the primary cause of the sudden deluge of employee turnover. Companies that are struggling to retain their workforce need to focus their efforts on the right place to reduce the number of resignations.

Don’t Bandage the Burnout

No company can afford to lose employees at a cyclic rate. However, the knee-jerk response to fix the perceived problem is often unhelpful. Offering better benefits or upgrading workspaces won’t sway the staggering 41% of workers considering leaving their job if their employers don’t address the root cause of their frustrations.

More often than not, a bad manager is the source of the problem. A recent study found that nearly two-thirds of employees considering a career change noted bad relations with their managers. Bad has multiple meanings for employees. They may feel that their managers don’t appreciate or value their work, that their primary boss is narcissistic, or that otherwise pleasant managers lack enough training to perform their job well.

How to Avoid Mass Resignations

The current job market is at direct odds with conventional beliefs about the employee-employer relationship. In the past, economic instability meant employers had most of the bargaining chips. Employees were often thankful to have a job at all and accepted situations they ordinarily wouldn’t to remain gainfully employed. In the pandemic era, employees are putting themselves first and refuse to remain in intolerable working conditions.

Avoiding resignations requires businesses to identify pain points, such as detrimental managers, and implement benefits that show the company cares about its employees. However, detecting toxic managers poses a significant challenge. Many employees would rather leave than face potential backlash for speaking out against their supervisors.

A simple way to find potential problems among the staff is to track attendance. Unhappy employees are more likely to arrive late, leave early, or miss work altogether. Businesses can use this information to identify troubling trends, such as an uptick in absences within a specific department. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about improving employee retention with absence reporting software.

5 Tips to Help Employees Transition Back to the Office

Posted on

November 16th, 2021

by

COVID forced many businesses to transition their workforce from the office to a remote setting. Employees and employers alike had to adjust to and overcome the challenges of working virtually. With more of the country receiving the vaccine, company leadership needs to consider the difficulties of shifting their employees back to a physical office.

Most employees adapted quickly to working from home and came to embrace the benefits. They have more flexible hours, no commute, and can wear whatever they please. Working from home also gives employees peace of mind knowing they’re reducing their exposure to germs and risk of infection.

The following are several tips to help employees switch back to a traditional working environment:

  1. Plan for a staged re-entry. COVID didn’t give employees much time to adjust to remote work. Many had to assemble a workspace and purchase office equipment without notice. Others had to figure out how to work from home with the distraction of other working adults, kids attending virtual school, and so on. Employers have the luxury of time to plan a staged return to work to avoid an abrupt transition.
  2. Offer mental health support. Government studies show that 40% of adults struggle with mental health issues due to COVID. Isolation, loneliness, and anxiety cause significant stress and have a negative effect on employees’ health. Offering mental health support can give employees resources to cope with their stressors. Offering flexible schedules can reduce anxiety for employees who have children attending virtual school or have high-risk individuals living with them.
  3. Explain the benefits of returning to the office. Many businesses discovered their employees were just as productive working from home as they were when working in the office. Employees know this too and may hedge at returning to the office if they don’t see the point. However, isolation stymies creativity that flourishes when employees collaborate. If a company doesn’t differentiate from the competition or produce new ideas, it’ll lose its relevancy. Employees may find themselves out of a job as a result.
  4. Be transparent about safety protocols. It’s not enough for businesses to reassure their employees that their health and safety are top priorities. Employees need to know what steps their companies are taking for them to feel safe to return. For example, companies can share their details for advanced cleaning protocols, maintaining virtual meetings, and other strategies to limit exposure.
  5. Allow for flexibility. If employers force their employees back into the office too quickly, they’re likely to have a significant attendance problem. The fallout of COVID is still complicating employees’ lives, and they need the flexibility to manage childcare, care for elderly or sick family members, etc. Consider allowing employees to work from home a few days per week to help them balance their work and home life responsibilities as they reacclimate to a traditional office environment.

COVID forced many companies to find creative solutions to remain in business. A successful return to the workplace hinges on understanding employees’ needs and embracing flexibility during the transition. However, employers still need to track attendance and address any troubling trends. Contact the experts at Actec to learn how our absence tracking mobile app can help your business as you transition back into the office.

5 Surprising Advantages of a Four-Day Workweek

Posted on

November 2nd, 2021

by

Everyone loves a three-day weekend. Employees chat excitedly about their plans for their extra day off, and they often return to the office with more energy and vigor for their work than usual. With employee burnout worse than ever, many businesses are looking for new and creative ways to combat the problem. For most organizations, the four-day workweek yielded impressive and unexpected benefits.

Why a Four-Day Workweek?

Advancements in technology expedited how quickly employees can complete tasks. However, this doesn’t mean employees can necessarily perform more work without suffering from burnout. There are only so many tasks, processes, and projects a single person can juggle each workweek. Many are questioning the validity of a five-day workweek, as long hours don’t always translate to better productivity in the modern workforce.

Benefits of a Shorter Workweek

Companies may worry that productivity will suffer or that they’ll struggle to meet deadlines if they reduce employee hours to four days a week while still providing a five-day workweek salary. However, numerous countries around the world are giving the four-day workweek a try and report the following benefits:

  1. Happier employees. Many employees spend their two days off running errands, attending appointments, and tending to their life responsibilities that have to wait during the workweek. They have little time for leisure, and it tanks their productivity. The additional day off allows employees to do the things they love so they can recharge.
  2. Reduced costs for businesses and their employees. Utility bills drop significantly for companies, as employees are in the office less. Employees use less water, less electricity, and produce less trash, which yields direct savings. Employees also save money on gas, coffee, and going out to lunch.
  3. Increased loyalty. Employees value workplace flexibility, and a four-day workweek is a significant perk to dangle. It improves their motivation, job satisfaction, and loyalty to their employer.
  4. Better productivity. Unhappy employees are less likely to give their full focus to their work, and they are more likely to have attendance problems. They may arrive late, duck out early, take long breaks, or chat with their coworkers instead of doing their work. With a shorter workweek, productivity rises as employees are less prone to these attendance issues. Employees that work a four-day workweek are also more creative and use their work hours much more effectively.
  5. Fewer health-related absences. Employees suffering from burnout are more likely to call out of work due to their mental health. Mental health problems can affect physical health as well, leading to more infections and illnesses. Many employees reported an improvement in their wellbeing when working a four-day workweek compared to a five-day one.

Some businesses adopting a four-day workweek model split their employees so that some work Monday through Thursday while the others work Tuesday through Friday. This approach ensures companies are still available to their customers five days a week while maintaining a reduced workweek for all employees. Flexible work hours are just one of the ways to improve employees’ health, productivity, and attendance. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more ways to reduce absenteeism.

Top 4 Ways the Pandemic Reshaped Absence Management

Posted on

October 19th, 2021

by

The pandemic has had an undeniable effect on absences and how companies manage them. More people called out of work in 2020 than they ever have in the past twenty years. Most of these absences have direct ties to COVID-19. Illness- and other medical-related absences rose by 45%, while absences related to childcare difficulties skyrocketed by 250%. Experts also speculate that extreme stress has led to higher-than-normal rates of burnout, which also lead to absences.

The shifting attendance landscape forced many businesses to reconsider their absence management strategies. Here are the most notable absences management trends of 2021:

  1. A rise in telehealth. The concept of virtual doctor appointments isn’t new, but the pandemic accelerated its acceptance as the norm. Virtual appointments allow employees to receive care and prescriptions for some ailments without exposing themselves to contagion-filled waiting rooms. Telehealth also provides greater access to much-needed mental health services.
  2. Mental health challenges. Although employees have greater access to virtual mental health services, there is still a stigma around receiving them. However, the mental stress of the pandemic is sending a surge of anxiety and depression through employees. Employers need to spread awareness and reduce the negative association with mental health services to help prevent a widespread mental health crisis in the workplace.
  3. Accommodation requests. Barring undue hardship, employers must provide reasonable accommodations to federally protected groups. However, prior to the pandemic, this usually applied to the location the employee worked (i.e., in the office). With so many employees still working from home, employers need to consider what employees need to do their job rather than where the work occurs.
  4. Transitional difficulties. Many companies are transitioning some of their employees back to the workplace due to the COVID-19 vaccine. However, this shift won’t be easy for many employees. They may have musculoskeletal problems from prolonged use of non-ergonomic furniture (i.e., working at the kitchen table or from the couch). Employees may also struggle with a traditional eight-hour shift, as remote work allows them greater flexibility with their work hours.

The pandemic radically transformed business as usual for most organizations. Companies need to understand how these changes contribute to employees’ ongoing mental health and wellbeing. Failing to keep up with these trends will result in burnout and significant absenteeism. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about absence management in the wake of COVID-19.