Biggest Workplace Time Wasters

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June 21st, 2022

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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.

Warning Signs of Employee Burnout: Don’t Miss Them

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January 18th, 2022

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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.

Benefits of Fostering a Culture of Workplace Wellness

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December 28th, 2021

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Mental health difficulties aren’t personal problems that employees can deal with off the clock. Stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues have far-reaching effects. Workplace stress compounds these issues, which can lead to burnout, poor productivity, and absenteeism. Here are some of the benefits companies reap when they support employees’ mental and emotional wellbeing:

  1. Employee motivation and productivity improve. Depressed, stressed, or burnt-out employees don’t perform to the best of their ability. Their work quality may suffer, or they may finish significantly less work than usual. Employees that feel supported by their employer are happier and more productive.
  2. They attract top-tier talent. Employees talk, and the internet is rife with company workplace reviews. Businesses that show they care about their employees’ wellbeing attract highly qualified candidates for open positions, which gives them an edge on the competition.
  3. Employees are more loyal. The modern workplace experiences a much higher rate of employee turnover than it did in previous decades. Employees change jobs for several reasons, and many are outside their employers’ control. For example, employees may quit because their spouse’s job requires them to move, or they may quit because they want a shorter commute. However, employers can control their company culture. Employees are less likely to look for a new job if they’re happy and feel supported by their company.
  4. They have a better reputation. A company’s reputation goes beyond how employees feel about their employer. Consumers want to support companies that take care of their employees, and they will take their business elsewhere if they believe an organization doesn’t treat its people with compassion.
  5. Employees take fewer mental health-related absences. Employees that struggle with mental health issues are more likely to take sick days. Their mental health symptoms can make it impossible to work or siphon away their motivation. Companies that offer mental health support for their employees help cultivate a happier work environment. Happier and less-stressed employees are much less likely to call out of work due to their mental health.

Employee absenteeism is rarely random or without cause. If employers notice a once-reliable employee is arriving late, leaving early, or not showing up at all, that employee may be suffering from mental health challenges. Offering mental and emotional wellness support can reverse the absenteeism trend. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about preventing absenteeism in the workplace.

The Number 1 Reason Companies Fail to Retain Employees

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November 23rd, 2021

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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

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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

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November 2nd, 2021

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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.

4 Proven Ways to Deliver an Excellent Customer Experience

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October 13th, 2021

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Positive customer experiences drive the success of all insurance companies. A recent survey from Microsoft found that the overwhelming majority (95%) of customers base their loyalty on the quality of service they receive. Other surveys report similar statistics across all industries, which underscore the importance of providing an excellent experience during every customer interaction.

With the pandemic keeping many people at home, customers are shopping online and reaching out to customer support more than ever. Whether they need help deciding on which product to purchase or need clarification on their policy, customer service representatives need to deliver the best service possible. Here are several methods customer service representatives can use to provide consistent, high-quality service:

  1. Know the products. Customers don’t often understand their policies or their coverage needs as well as they should. They need a knowledgeable agent to guide their purchasing decisions and clarify any questions they may have. Agents that recommend supplemental policies to prevent coverage gaps, bundles to help save the customer money, and tips that lower the customer’s insurance costs will be far more effective than agents that can only regurgitate a memorized script.
  2. Embrace creative problem-solving. Creative problem-solving is a much sought-after soft skill, and it requires looking beyond a quick fix. Customer service agents that thrive on finding solutions will advance customer loyalty much more than agents that focus on the customer’s policy limitations.
  3. Strive for positive communication. Customers often call their insurance providers after they experience a loss, and their emotions are running high. Agents that remain calm, friendly, and empathetic can help the customer deescalate to navigate the claim process. If a customer initiates communication through chat or text, customer service agents must remain aware that tone doesn’t always convey through these channels. Using friendly punctuation, humor, or emojis can imbue their words with warmth and compassion.
  4. Respond quickly, resolve thoroughly. Customers value their time, and they do not appreciate waiting on hold or navigating a convoluted phone tree before even broaching their problem. Agents need to respond as soon as a customer reaches out on all platforms, including calls, messages, and texts. However, customers don’t want agents to rush while resolving their problems. Respond promptly and investigate carefully to secure ongoing customer loyalty.

Customer service representatives are the first responders to customer inquiries. Insurance companies need a top-tier call center to deliver the quality of service the modern customer expects. Contact the experts at Actec to learn how our nearshore call center solutions can improve the customer experience.

How to Improve Employee Engagement with SMART Goals

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October 5th, 2021

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Every company has big-picture goals, but it’s not always a straightforward matter to achieve them. Managers may struggle to keep employees engaged, or employees may not understand their role in the process. Team- or company-wide goals are easy enough to grasp, but how to accomplish them becomes murky when broken down to the employee level. Using the SMART approach to setting goals can cut through this confusion and allow employees to engage with their work to the best of their ability.

Understanding SMART Goals

The SMART method isn’t a new concept, but many businesses fail to keep it in mind when setting goals. The SMART criteria are Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Using these elements allows companies to create measurable goals that outline what employees or teams need to accomplish on a specific timeline. The SMART approach also allows companies to provide clear markers of success, whether it’s a certain number of sales or a percentage increase in customer engagement because they can track the results.

  • S: Specific goals eliminate confusion by providing details on what the objective is, what team or employee is responsible for it, and what steps those individuals need to take next.
  • M: Measurable goals are much easier to quantify because they have data to examine. If a company sets a goal to increase social media engagement, it also needs to identify benchmarks of success. One additional customer comment compared to the month before technically constitutes an increase, but it’s not likely what the company had in mind. Setting measurable targets eliminates confusion on what counts as success.
  • A: Unrealistic goals will leave employees frustrated and destroy productivity. When companies reach this point in goal setting, they need to take a hard look at the feasibility of the goal. If the goal is too demanding or big in scale, employees will struggle to achieve it.
  • R: Employees won’t understand the point of a goal if it lacks relevancy. This part of the method explains why the goal is important to the company’s long-term success and how employees contribute to that end.
  • T: Employees need to know the timeline for achieving their goals. If they aren’t clear on when tasks are due to keep the goal on track, they’ll struggle to distribute their workload effectively. Similarly, if the timeline is too short, employees won’t be able to produce the quality of work required for true success.

When employees understand their role and tasks, why it matters, and what management expects of them, their productivity increases exponentially. Without knowing these things, they’re likely to flounder and disengage from their work. Disengaged employees don’t see the importance of what they do and are much less motivated to do their work. This kind of thinking can result in absenteeism, poor workplace morale, and lost profits. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about improving employee engagement and attendance.

How to Reduce Employee Turnover with Better Onboarding

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September 14th, 2021

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The employee onboarding process has far-reaching effects within an organization. Effective onboarding improves productivity, boosts employee retention, and reduces absenteeism. If a company is struggling to retain its workforce, an ineffective onboarding experience may explain the churn of new hires.

Onboarding and Productivity

An unsatisfactory onboarding experience can hinder productivity and diminish a new hire’s performance. On average, it takes eight months for a new employee to reach their full productivity potential. Unclear objectives are part of the reason for such a long timeline to proficiency, as 60% of organizations don’t set goals for new employees. Meanwhile, 35% of companies lack an onboarding process altogether, while 63% don’t extend the onboarding process beyond the new employee’s first month with the company. Most organizations stop the onboarding process after just one week.

The focus of the onboarding process often compounds the productivity problem as well. Fifty-eight percent of companies report that their onboarding process concentrates on paperwork and administrative tasks rather than helping new employees learn their job. In addition, one-third of employees experience inconsistent or reactive onboarding. The result of these issues is a discouraged employee without a clear understanding of their role.

Onboarding and Employee Retention

Replacing an employee is a costly process. Businesses must spend money on recruitment, training, benefits, and more. It can take up to half a year or more to see a return on investment with a new hire, so companies can’t afford to have a retention problem.

Studies have shown onboarding has a direct correlation with how long an employee will stay with their company. One-fifth of employee turnover occurs within their first 45 days on the job, and nearly a quarter of new hires leave within the first year of their employment. In contrast, 69% of employees are more likely to remain at their organization for three years if they have a satisfactory onboarding experience. In addition, 58% of employees are more likely to stay at their job beyond three years if their company has an efficient onboarding program.

Onboarding and Absenteeism

An employee’s onboarding experience sets the tone for their tenure with an organization. A great experience improves retention by 82%, while a poor one makes new hires twice as likely to seek alternate employment. However, turnover isn’t the only problem associated with poor onboarding. A negative onboarding experience can leave new hires disengaged and unmotivated to perform. Unhappy employees are more likely to have attendance problems, such as arriving late, leaving early, or failing to show up to work at all.

If productivity is lagging or turnover is surging among a company’s new hires, their onboarding process may be to blame. Problems with attendance are often an early warning sign that an employee is dissatisfied and considering looking for a new job. Tracking the frequency and type of absences can help companies identify struggling new hires. Businesses can use this information to offer new hires support and reduce the likelihood of turnover. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about our absence reporting solutions.

What is a Sick Day for Remote Employees?

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August 3rd, 2021

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The pandemic altered every business regardless of industry or size. Companies assembled their plans for a remote workforce and found new ways to operate when states began issuing stay-at-home orders. Part of this challenge was determining how to handle leave requests and attendance.

Why Are Remote Employees Working While Ill?

Working from home blurred the line between work and personal time, particularly for employees that don’t have a dedicated office. It made it easy to work outside of usual hours and increased the perception of always being available. Even before the pandemic, many employees would come to work while ill or return to work before fully recovering. Some of this is because many employees fear judgment from their colleagues or employers if they call out sick. Others feel the pressure to always be available to their customers.

How COVID-19 Changed Sick Days

The pandemic has further complicated what it means to take a sick day. In a traditional office setting, employees should stay home when ill to prevent spreading illness. Now that they’re already in their home, many feel guilty for requesting a sick day. One survey found that almost half of employees believe other illnesses are insignificant compared to COVID-19. Two-thirds of the respondents believe their employer would frown upon any employee who takes a sick day for anything less severe than COVID-19.

The Cost of Presenteeism

Presenteeism, working while ill, comes with a hefty cost. Productivity decreases nearly threefold when employees work while ill or in pain. They’re also more likely to need to take a sick day if they work while ill, further tanking efficiency.

Many businesses have responded by offering more paid time off during the pandemic or implementing personal days. Other companies are tackling the issue with a shift in company culture. They’re training management to be empathetic when an employee requests sick leave. They’re hoping to shift the perception that the company leadership wants their employees to get better for their health rather than to get back to work quickly.

The pandemic made all aspects of running a business harder than before, and managing attendance is no exception. Contact the experts at Actec to learn how our absence tracking mobile app can simplify absence management during the pandemic.