How to Create an Office Environment Employees Will Love

Posted on

April 19th, 2022

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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.

Top Reasons Why You Need Employee Attendance Tracking Software

Posted on

March 8th, 2022

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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.

4 Surprising Ways COVID-19 Contributes to Employee Absenteeism

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April 13th, 2021

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COVID-19 has put employees under more stress than ever, and it’s manifesting in several unpleasant ways in the workplace. While businesses can expect employees to call out for the occasional illness, skyrocketing absenteeism isn’t something companies prepare for or want. If employers notice a sudden surge in absenteeism, COVID-19 may be a contributing factor in unexpected ways.

Beyond the obvious of contracting the virus, the following details how COVID-19 contributes to absenteeism:

  1. Anxiety and depression. Prior to the pandemic, a national health survey asked adults about their anxiety and/or depression symptoms. From January to June of 2019, around 10% of respondents reported that they suffered from anxiety, depression, or both. This number shot up by January of 2021 to just over 40%. Unchecked mental health problems have a strong correlation with absenteeism.
  2. Not enough sleep. Over one-third (36%) of adults reported difficulties sleeping during the pandemic. Poor quality of sleep or insufficient sleep hinders productivity and can contribute to employee burnout. Chronically tired employees may begin to arrive late or call out altogether.
  3. Poor nutrition. Employees are shouldering significant burdens because of COVID-19. Some may be struggling with income insecurity, fears for at-risk family members, or difficulties obtaining childcare. The pressure of these situations can lead to poor nutrition, as evidenced by 32% of adults that reported difficulties eating. While diet may not have an immediate effect on employee attendance, it can influence their health. Insufficient nutrition can contribute to fatigue, stress, and loss of productivity. It also lowers the immune system, which makes employees more susceptible to illnesses.
  4. Worsening chronic health conditions. Individuals with chronic conditions likely had their health under control or were taking steps to do so before the pandemic. Unfortunately, many of those conditions are noted as high-risk for developing severe cases of COVID-19. Isolation also wreaks havoc on certain long-term health conditions, such as anxiety or depression. With 12% of adults reporting worsening chronic health conditions, employers may begin to see a corresponding rise in absenteeism.

Employees’ mental health and wellbeing are critical components to sustaining a productive workforce. If your business is struggling with absenteeism, Actec can help. Contact our team of experts to learn about our absence management solutions.

Signs Your Company Needs a Better Attendance System

Posted on

October 19th, 2020

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Keeping track of employee attendance should be a straightforward process. However, without a cohesive attendance management system, several issues can occur. Managers may report absences at different times of the day using a variety of communication methods. With HR receiving emails, texts, memos, or in-person visits on an unpredictable schedule, errors are likely to occur. However, implementing an electronic attendance system can reduce the tedium and frustrations of absence management.

Antiquated absence management processes cost time and money. Upgrading to an electronic absence reporting system can reap several benefits. The following are some key indicators that your attendance system needs an update:

  1. Frequent errors or inaccuracies. Manual timesheets or uncoordinated absence reporting channels are prone to error. Managers may not understand the various types of leave and misreport their employees’ absences as a result. For example, an employee may request leave that qualifies for Family Medical Leave, but the manager may report it as sick leave. Having a streamlined electronic system can eliminate these kinds of record-keeping errors.
  2. Productivity issues in the HR department. If HR employees are spending several hours combing through various emails, notes, and voicemails to try and track employee attendance, they’re losing valuable time. The HR department manages several essential functions that keep the business going, such as employee benefits, employee training, job design and analysis, and recruiting. Having an electronic absence reporting system can free up their time to focus on these other critical tasks.
  3. Employee performance is lagging. Unchecked attendance issues often result in productivity problems. Employees who arrive late, duck out early, or don’t show up put projects behind schedule. They also cause stress for their coworkers as many have to pick up the slack. Having an electronic system sends all attendance records to a centralized location, which allows HR to take note of negative attendance trends. With this data, managers can take steps to identify the cause of the absence issues as well as take steps to rectify them.
  4. Morale is low. Attendance can affect employee morale in several ways. They may harbor resentments toward coworkers who abuse their paid time off without repercussions. A confusing or poorly enforced system can also leave employees feeling powerless. Either way, poor absence management can result in employee disengagement. Electronic attendance software with self-service features gives employees a sense of agency and control.

If your absence management system is creating more problems than it’s solving, Actec can help. Contact us to learn about our absence tracking mobile app as well as our other absence reporting solutions.

How to Manage Employees Abusing Their Sick Leave

Posted on

January 6th, 2020

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There are several legitimate reasons an employee may call out of work. Illnesses, federally protected leave, and family emergencies can arise without notice. However, when employers begin to notice certain employees always seem to call out sick during the summer or holiday season, they may have an absenteeism problem on their hands.

The Effects of Absenteeism

Absenteeism rates vary depending on the industry, but the averages range from 2.1% to 4% of the workforce. While that may not seem very high at a glance, it can have far-reaching consequences. For businesses with 500 employees, this can mean as many as 20 employees are misusing their sick leave. This costs employers in several ways. Not only do they have to pay the employee for work they didn’t perform, but it also puts a strain on the remaining employees as they have to pick up the slack. This can result in missed deadlines, a loss of reputation, poor workplace morale, and a hit to profits.

Monitoring Sick Leave Abuse

The simplest way to prevent absenteeism is to be aware of it through an attendance system. Employers can keep an eye on potential sick leave abuse in the following ways:

* Recognize the signs and intervene early
* Find out why the employee is abusing their leave; there may be a larger problem at play causing the absences such as office bullying or a scheduling conflict
* Learn to say no to unrealistic requests for leave
* Ensure employees are aware of sick leave policies as well as the resulting disciplinary action for abusing sick leave

Of course, another element of monitoring sick leave is encouraging employees to use it correctly as well. Employees who come to work despite their illness can spread contagion and cause widespread absences.

Balancing legitimate sick leave requests while preventing absenteeism can be a challenge for employers. This is why having an absence management system is vital. Such systems can track absences, identify attendance trends, and more. Contact the experts at Actec to learn how we can help your business eliminate absenteeism.

How to Address Attendance During Back to School Season

Posted on

September 9th, 2019

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As summer comes to a close, students will be heading back to school. This means more vehicles on the roads as teenagers drive themselves and buses pick up younger students. Not only that, but employees may transport their children to school themselves. This increase in traffic and personal responsibilities may cause problems at work as previously punctual employees begin trickling in well after they were due to arrive.

Develop a Preparedness Plan

Back to school season is an easily trackable event and it doesn’t have to present challenges if employers know how to manage it effectively. Sending out reminders to employees can keep it on their radar and recommending making adjustments to when they depart for the office can reduce tardiness. Employers should also allow for leniency the first week back to school as employees make adjustments to their schedules.

Accommodating Employees with Children

While employers don’t have to accept tardiness as the status quo, they can make changes to make it easier for parents that drive their children to school. Instituting flexible schedules can allow these employees to shift their work hours to allow for this change in their routine. Not only does this improve the employee’s morale, but it also improves their loyalty to the company, as they know their employer cares about their work-life balance.

When to Intervene

Employers may notice attendance problems at the start of the back to school season, but tardiness can be a sign of a larger problem. Employees who habitually arrive late despite adequate forewarning and fair accommodations may be abusing their employer’s trust. Implementing an absence management system can allow employers to track late arrivals, early departures, and unexcused absences.

This allows managers to identify attendance trends and pinpoint potential absenteeism before it becomes a chronic, widespread problem. Actec understands the challenges involved in managing attendance. Our customizable absence management solutions can help you stay on top of attendance and improve productivity. To learn more about implementing an absence management system, contact the experts at Actec.

5 Ways to Foster Better Wellness through the Workplace

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May 6th, 2019

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Straight from cold and flu season to allergy season, most workplaces are seeing an increase in requests for time off due to illness. While these sick days are understandable, they still have a negative effect on productivity and put additional stress on the remaining employees. Taking the following steps can help prevent the spread of illness in the office:

  1. Eat nutritious foods. Eating a balanced, healthy diet can boost immune health. Providing employees with nutritional guides, apps, or even food during the day can help to adjust unhealthy habits and improve immune system function.
  2. Use appropriate hand washing techniques. Many people don’t wash their hands correctly. Giving a cursory rinse won’t do much to rid them of germs. Employees should aim to wash their hands with soap and warm water for one minute or longer. Employees should make it a habit to wash their hands regularly, especially before eating, and proper dispensers and cleaning agents should be used.
  3. Sanitize desks and high-traffic areas. Any surfaces that employees interact with regularly are breeding grounds for germs. The flu virus can live for an extended period of time without a host, so it’s easy to spread it around the office. Further, pollen, pet dander, and other contaminants get tracked in from outside and can aggravate allergies and sensitivities among colleagues. Using a sanitizer on surfaces and objects employees touch regularly can help reduce the spread of inflammation, disease, and other stressors.
  4. Encourage sick employees to stay home. Many employees feel compelled to return to work before they are fully recovered. This is a two-fold problem. For one, the employee may relapse from pushing too hard too soon, causing an even longer delay in their return. Another issue is that they may still be contagious and infect other employees. Ensure that you provide your employees with an adequate amount of sick time, that processes are in place in each team for such occasions, and that working from home during recovery is as easy as possible but not compulsory.
  5. Review sick leave policies. Employees need to understand their paid time off for sick leave and their options should they use it all. Employers also need to remain cognizant of protected leave such as time off that falls under the ADA or FMLA. Employers should also consider allowing employees to work from home following an illness. The CDC recommends employees stay home for a full 24 hours after they are fever-free without the assistance of medicine. While they may feel well enough to work, they could still be contagious.

Taking steps to ensure employees stay healthy is a great way to prevent absences due to illnesses. To learn more about absence management, contact the experts at Actec.

Absenteeism and Workplace Stress: Six Tips for Managers

Posted on

March 11th, 2019

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shutterstock_136833263 - Copy (5)Stress is dangerous, both to your employees and your company. For your employees, stress imposes high psychic costs – depression, fatigue, and social withdrawal – and is a major factor in heart attacks, hypertension and other disorders.
For your company, workplace stress imposes major costs in reduced productivity, sales and profits. It’s also a major factor in employee absenteeism. In fact, an employer survey by UK-based CIPD found workplace stress to be the biggest cause of long-term absenteeism.

The responsibility to deal effectively with stress is one of the most important and challenging aspects of every manager’s job. To reduce workplace stress and absenteeism, here are six tips for managers.

Prioritize and organize. Set the tone from the top by controlling the pace and volume of work. Though you can’t always control the pace of work, try to limit the duration of high-stress periods and let them know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Avoid unreasonable deadlines. Be sure that the assignments you give to your employees are suitable to their abilities and resources. Clearly define employees’ roles and your expectations for performance.

Communicate. Engage your employees in big decisions, especially those that affect their jobs. Find ways to show employees that you value their contributions and make clear there are opportunities for career development. Keep them informed on important company decisions and developments. Listen attentively, not only to the words but the emotions your employees are trying to communicate.

Support an entrepreneurial atmosphere. Empower your employees. Delegate. Encourage and reward creativity. Project energy and enthusiasm. Emphasize teamwork and collaborative problem solving – and celebrate your team’s successes.

Resolve conflict positively. Workplace conflicts can be a major source of employee stress. By being proactive and positive in resolving conflict, you can reduce tension and create an atmosphere of trust and cooperation.

Adopt flexible work arrangements. Rigidity in work schedules can be a major source of stress for employees who live hectic lives outside of the workplace, especially those who must tend to the needs of children or elderly parents. By recognizing employee needs with flexible work arrangements, you can engender greater loyalty and work satisfaction.

Practice effective ‘self-management’. Emotional intelligence is essential to bolstering self-confidence, defusing tension, and maintaining that all-important sense of humor in projecting a sense of calm and leadership. Stress can undermine your capacity to exercise emotional intelligence and sound judgment, so do all you can to increase your capacity for self-awareness and self-management. Be attentive to your physical and emotional health. Connect with others at work. Discuss problems with someone you trust. The better you feel, the more resilient you’ll be in the face of stressful situations.

Workplace stress is a greater factor in absenteeism than most employers realize. Many employers fail to track the extent of absenteeism or investigate its causes. Depending on size and operational scope, many organizations may benefit from finding an outsourced solution to help manage the process. For more information on our absence reporting and employee absenteeism services, contact us.

7 Easy Ways to Improve Employee Motivation

Posted on

December 24th, 2018

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Unmotivated employees are more likely to arrive late for work, leave early, or call out of work altogether. Employee absenteeism doesn’t just wreak havoc on morale; it also takes a large bite out of a company’s bottom line. Absenteeism can cost employers as much as $2500 a day in expenses so it behooves them to find creative ways to keep employees passionate about their work. The following are several suggestions employers can utilize to inspire more enthusiasm in their employees:

  1. Recognize a job well done. Employees need to know their employer appreciates their work. They won’t continue to go above and beyond if their boss never recognizes their effort.
  2. Create small, measurable goals. A project that stretches on for weeks with no end in sight can rapidly demoralize staff. Setting small goals allows staff to visualize their progress and keep them on track.
  3. Celebrate the small things. Applauding milestones helps with motivation as well. Recognition should be specific to the employee to highlight how his or her work directly affects the end goal.
  4. Take breaks at frequent intervals. Employees lose effectiveness the longer they force themselves to work on a tiring project. Sitting for hours on end isn’t healthy either. Taking a five-minute break every hour or so can help employees clear their heads and re-engage with the project.
  5. Explain the big picture. Employees working on small parts of a bigger project may not understand why their work matters. Showing them the big picture and explaining how their work helps achieve that can do wonders for their motivation.
  6. Afford employees more autonomy. Employers and managers often have an idea of how and when a project should progress. However, micromanaging can stifle creativity and lead to resentment. Giving employees more say over their work can improve the final results and their outlook.
  7. Embrace nature. Natural light is vital to keep employees in a good mood. If the office lacks this feature, it may be worth the effort to hold a team meeting outdoors if the weather allows for it. Having a walking meeting can boost creativity as the change of environment allows for new perspectives and fresh ideas.

Improving motivation in the workplace doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Implementing some or all of the above ideas can help boost productivity, improve workplace morale, and have a noticeable effect on employee attendance. To learn more about reducing absenteeism, contact the experts at Actec.

How Poor Employee Attendance Affects Your Bottom Line

Posted on

December 17th, 2018

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Employee absences have a far-reaching effect on businesses. Routine absences cost companies money due to a decrease in productivity from the missing employee. An employee who is absent on a regular basis affects other worker’s productivity as well since the remaining staff will have to take on the absent employee’s work to meet deadlines. Spread loading work in this manner can also affect morale. Staff members who have to work late will swiftly come to resent the absent employee and likely experience a dip in motivation. It is vital for employers to understand how absenteeism affects the workplace so they can draft and implement effective attendance policies.

Employee and Company Growth

Most businesses hire an individual with the intention to draw on their expertise as well as help them grow in their skills. This benefits the employee as well as the company as it ensures mutual growth. An employee must be present in order to achieve sufficient professional development. Otherwise, it will be almost impossible for an employee to learn new skills. In fact, an employee may experience a regression in their skill set from a disruptive work schedule.

Continuity and Job Performance

An employee with poor attendance affects workflow and continuity for larger projects. A project either comes to a halt or slows down when an employee is not present to do their share of the work. Existing staff members or temporary hires must step in to fill the gap. This is less than ideal because other employees have their own work to perform and temporary workers take time to train.

Employees who rack up several absences without discernible consequences can affect the job performance of other staff members. The cause for this is twofold. Some employees may feel slighted for their efforts. They come to work on time and do their job while the absent employee receives the same benefits without the work. Other employees may see that management is not cracking down on absences. This can cause employees with good attendance to start taking advantage of a weak absenteeism policy.

Conflict Amongst Staff

The staff members left to take on the absent employee’s workload will become resentful over time. This can result in passive aggressive behavior or overt conflicts in the workplace. This can further disrupt productivity, as the employees will not work well together. It also creates a toxic atmosphere that can affect employees not otherwise involved in the conflict. If left unchecked, employers can experience high turnover rates.

Understanding how chronic absenteeism affects your company’s finances and workplace morale is key to implementing effective absence management solutions. Actec can help your business put an absence reporting program into place to track the frequency and cost of absences, increase productivity by reducing absenteeism, and more. To learn more, contact us today.