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 Reasons Why Your Employees Are Sick Despite Safety Precautions

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June 8th, 2021

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absence reportingMost companies implemented health and safety measures as COVID restrictions began to ease, and work could resume in person. However, many organizations are struggling to keep their employees healthy despite these precautions. The reasons driving these illnesses are surprising but simple to fix. The following are some common areas where contagion easily spreads amongst employees:

  1. Clocking in and out for the day. Physical or in-person time clocks require employees to use a communal system. With so many hands punching, swiping, or scanning, germs can easily spread. Such systems also result in queues while employees wait their turn.
  2. Paper schedules. Companies with shift workers or part-time employees may try to save time by posting the weekly schedule in a common area, such as a breakroom. However, this forces employees to congregate or come to work when off the clock to find out their schedule for the week. Scheduling apps eliminate this contact point while keeping employees up to date on their shifts.
  3. In-person meetings. Whether it’s a walking meeting or a planned conference, gathering in person increases the risk of sharing germs across entire teams or departments. While some meetings do require face-to-face interactions, companies should hold virtual meetings whenever possible.
  4. In-person scheduling requests. Organizations that don’t have an electronic system in place for leave requests have an increased risk of spreading contagion between staff members. In-person and paper-based systems pose a threat, as staff members must congregate in close quarters as well as handle leave request documents. Digital leave requests eliminate the person-to-person interaction and are much easier to track.

The pandemic has put a spotlight on how companies conduct business and what steps they take to keep their employees and customers healthy. Switching to a digital system can help eliminate many of the above problems, which helps to reduce absences and improve productivity. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about reducing absenteeism and managing leave requests with our absence tracking mobile app.

Successful Strategies to Reduce Absenteeism in the Workplace

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May 25th, 2021

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Absenteeism is an issue that affects every industry. While providing clear attendance and leave policies can help, they’re not always enough to prevent absenteeism. Burnout, disengagement, and other stressors can lead to frequent absences. Companies can implement the following strategies to reduce employee absenteeism:

  1. Focus on wellness. Wellness programs can help companies tackle stress in the workplace. Some ideas include lunchtime yoga, lifestyle coaching for stress management, designated break rooms/frequent mini-breaks, and providing healthy lunch or snacks.
  2. Improve morale. It’s not enough to identify negative factors that cause disengagement. Companies must focus their efforts on getting employees to engage with one and other to rebuild morale. They can achieve this through inter-department competitions with fun prizes, team-building exercises, and other social activities.
  3. Be flexible. Employees’ home lives don’t always allow for traditional nine to five work schedules. They may need to take their children to school in the morning, attend night classes for professional development, or facilitate care for an infirm relative. Having the option to shift their schedules to the left or the right can eliminate conflicts between their personal lives and work. Offering a certain number of remote days per week can also help reduce employees’ stress.
  4. Reevaluate existing leave policies. Companies can claim they’re committed to employee wellness, but their existing leave policies may prove otherwise. While the financial feasibility will vary from company to company, employers should offer enough paid leave to avoid employee disengagement and burnout. Ideally, employees should have separate sick days and vacation days or a large enough pool of paid time off to account for both.

Companies can’t afford to overlook absenteeism, as it’s a chronic problem with far-reaching effects. Identifying absence trends is infinitely easier when all attendance data funnels to a centralized location. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about reducing absenteeism with our absence tracking mobile app.

How to Identify Employee Burnout Before It Does Damage

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May 4th, 2021

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If employees are suffering from burnout, they’re more likely to make mistakes, experience drops in productivity, or start to have attendance problems (i.e. arriving late, leaving early, or calling out of work). Even if only one or two employees are struggling with burnout, managers are likely to notice the effects are office-wide. Once one employee stops pulling his or her weight, other employees have to pick up the slack. This puts added stress on the rest of the staff and can cause a chain reaction of burned out employees. Even if burned out employees don’t affect their coworkers, they are prone to making costly errors that can cause delays.

Thankfully, employee burnout is easy to spot. If managers and employers pay attention to their employees, they can recognize key indicators of burnout and take steps to rectify it before it begins hurting productivity and company morale through employee absenteeism and presenteeism.

  1. Heightened cynicism. Once productive employees may begin to balk at requests. A sudden shift to pessimism indicates the employee is disillusioned with or frustrated by his or her work. On that note, if an employee who is known for being a go-getter becomes negative and doubtful of certain objectives or goals, he or she may be experiencing burnout.
  2. Mistakes increase in frequency and severity. Seeing more typos when employees are under tight deadlines isn’t surprising. However, when an employee who often performs perfect work begins to make preposterous mistakes, something is wrong. The employee may feel underappreciated or overworked. Employers need to take the time to determine if the mistakes are the result of the employee growing careless or if he or she is suffering from burnout.
  3. Sudden disinterest with work. If a certain employee who always has ideas or contributes to the conversation goes silent at every meeting, he or she may be suffering from burnout. If the employee is overburdened with work, he or she isn’t going to engage any further until the problem is rectified.
  4. Attendance problems emerge. Some employees struggle with attendance, but when a previously punctual employee starts coming in late, leaving early, or not showing up at all, something is not right. Absent employees can derail projects, hurt productivity, and torpedo workplace morale. Managers must leverage absence reporting tools to determine if the sudden attendance problems are the result of family issues, an illness, or excessive work. If the problem is the latter, burnout is the culprit behind the absences.

Preventing burnout before it can take hold among the staff is of vital importance to businesses. If your company is trying to contend with absenteeism, Actec can help. Our absence reporting program can improve productivity, reduce absenteeism, and simplify your attendance keeping processes. Contact us to learn more.

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.

5 Techniques for More Effective Employee Scheduling

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January 19th, 2021

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Building an effective employee schedule is critical to every business’s success. This is true whether an organization operates 24/7, works a traditional nine to five, or spans unusual hours. While these companies have different scheduling requirements, all businesses can benefit from the following guidelines when putting together their employee’s schedules:

  1. Understand the business. Employers need to know their scheduling requirements before they can optimize work schedules. For example, 24-hour businesses will need rotating shifts, whereas companies that operate during standard business hours will do best with fixed schedules. Businesses like coffee shops or restaurants have an additional complication of peak business hours. For example, the coffee shop will need more employees to cover the morning influx of commuters, while restaurants will need to schedule more staff to cover the dinner rush.
  2. Consider employees’ needs. This isn’t as simple as knowing employee availability. Every employee has unique skills and preferences. Businesses that don’t consider these factors may schedule employees that are ill-suited to the shift. Continuing with the coffee shop example above, a new employee may have morning availability all week. However, their inexperience can become a significant bottleneck as they require more time to perform tasks than experienced employees do. It’s also best practice to try and schedule employees during their preferred hours. It may not always be possible, but it reduces employee turnover.
  3. Keep the schedule predictable. Employees appreciate having some consistency to their schedule. While this isn’t an issue for companies with standard work hours, it can be a problem for shift work or 24-hour businesses. For example, ER nurses that work 12-hour shifts won’t appreciate their schedules switching from night shift to day shift every week.
  4. Empower employees. Employees have lives outside of work, and they won’t always be able to work their usual schedule. Employers can implement software that allows employees to request time off rather than routing through a manager, then to a department head, before finally making it to HR. This allows companies to see all leave requests in one location, which facilitates better scheduling. It also gives employees some autonomy over their schedule.
  5. Invest in technology. The days of creating a schedule with pen and paper are long gone. Investing in the right software can reduce the burden of schedule building, improve productivity, and increase profits. Employers can also use software to identify trends and make data-based decisions.

Actec understands the complexity and nuances involved in scheduling employees. Without the proper software, businesses may run into labor compliance issues, struggle to keep up with leave requests, and overlook attendance problems. Our absence tracking mobile app helps ensure compliance with labor laws, allows employees to submit leave requests, and provides actionable insight into employee attendance. Contact us to learn how our mobile app can help your organization.

5 Ways to Better Manage Employee Scheduling

Posted on

October 5th, 2020

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Employee rosters change often, particularly for businesses that experience seasonal rushes. COVID-19 has also changed the makeup of business hours, employee schedules, and more. Having attendance software and procedures in place can help reduce the confusion, boost productivity, and improve profits. Businesses should consider the following to improve scheduling at the employee, management, and business level:

  1. Maintain an updated list of employees. If company leadership doesn’t know who’s working for them, it can result in understaffing or overstaffing—both of which cost businesses money. Businesses should keep up-to-date records on all employees including their department, any cross-training they’ve received, their skills, and job status (e.g. contractor, temporary hire, part-time, full-time, etc.). These details allow managers to schedule relevant workers without leaving labor gaps or over-saturating a particular department.
  2. Have a plan B. Even the most reliable of employees can experience a last-minute emergency. This is where having a comprehensive employee roster is invaluable. Managers can use the list to identify other employees who have the skills and availability to take over the shift.
  3. Manage talent. Scheduling employees for shift positions that don’t align with their skillsets can erode morale and slow productivity to a crawl. Understaffed workplaces often encounter this issue as they have no choice but to schedule employees even if they aren’t the best fit for the job. Reviewing employee skills and training can provide guidance for more effective employee scheduling.
  4. Look at historical data. Businesses can analyze their attendance data to notice trends like increased demand for holiday scheduling, slow seasons, and absenteeism. This information can guide scheduling practices to ensure employees aren’t over-worked, bored, or ill-suited to the work.
  5. Keep communication simple. Employees have lives outside of the workplace that can place demands on their time and require them to take leave. They need a simple way to submit leave requests to avoid scheduling gaps and reduce staffing confusion.

Actec understands that tracking employee attendance and scheduling restraints can be challenging. That’s why we created an absence tracking mobile app to simplify attendance in the workplace. Employees have several channels for submitting leave requests including telephonic, chat/text, or through the app itself. All requests route to the same centralized location, eliminating communication errors between management, various departments, and HR. Contact us to learn more about effective absence management.

How to Track Excessive Absences in the Workplace

Posted on

September 21st, 2020

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Businesses can’t function much less turn a profit if the employees don’t show up to do the work. When absences begin piling up, it has a domino effect on the rest of the company. Projects may fall behind schedule if a key employee is regularly missing. This bleeds into other projects as well as team members may need to stop what they’re doing to catch up on the absent employee’s work. This effects workplace morale as well, causing a company-wide productivity problem.

Identifying Absenteeism

Without adequate absence management software, managers will struggle to keep track of which employees have impeccable attendance, spotty attendance, or rampant absenteeism. Before taking any action, however, managers need to determine the cause of the absence as many are legitimate. Some common examples include:

  1. Calling out sick
  2. Doctor’s appointments
  3. Paid time off (PTO) such as vacation days
  4. Maternity/Paternity leave and other leave protected by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  5. Religious holidays
  6. Unpaid, approved leave
  7. Jury duty

Whether the absence is valid or not, employees should give notice before the day itself with the exception of requesting sick leave. Having an absence management system in place allows managers to keep track of excused and unexcused absences.

The Benefits of an Absence Management System

Absence management systems keep all attendance data in a centralized location. This allows managers to simplify tracking attendance, tardiness, leave requests, and absenteeism. It also lets managers identify trends such as an individual employee that frequently arrives late or calls out of work without notice. With that information, managers can make data-driven decisions and changes to reduce attendance issues, address work-related problems contributing to absenteeism, and improve productivity.

Mobile Absence Tracking

With COVID-19 forcing many businesses to shift to a remote workforce, tracking attendance is more challenging than ever. Having a mobile app to manage leave requests and track absences reduces confusion and simplifies absence management. Actec’s absence tracking mobile app provides employees with several channels for submitting leave requests including telephonic, text/chat, and directly through the mobile app itself. This allows employees to choose the method they’re most comfortable with, which is vital to ensure employees follow attendance policies and procedures. To learn more about mobile absence tracking, contact the experts at Actec.

4 Ways to Determine If Management Is Causing High Absenteeism

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April 27th, 2020

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Seasoned managers don’t allow themselves to get too hung up on whether their employees like them or not. While it’s good to foster positive communication and a good working relationship with employees, management isn’t there to win popularity contests. However, when company leaders are actively unpleasant, it can tank productivity and cause attendance problems such as tardiness, ducking out early, or calling out of work altogether.

If employee retention, attendance, and engagement are down across the board, it may be time to take a closer look at leadership styles. The following red flags can indicate the absenteeism problem isn’t because of the employees, but because of their managers or team leads:

  1. Employees avoid management at all costs. Employees may be intimidated by casual conversation with the boss, but it’s another thing altogether if they go to great lengths to avoid any encounter. For example, they may vacate common areas when management enters them, avoid meetings/sit as far as possible from management during meetings, or find an excuse to skip out on company events that put them in close proximity with management.
  2. Small talk is forced and awkward. Small talk happens throughout the day, but unhappy employees may clam up abruptly around management. If they refuse to discuss even the most superficial topics with company leadership, it may be a sign that something is amiss.
  3. They don’t offer to help. Employees are aware of their workflow and many will offer to help with related tasks to keep projects on schedule. It shows initiative and many companies view it as a positive trait and reward it accordingly. When employees are at odds with management, however, they won’t extend aid for one of two reasons. Either they don’t feel like they should help someone who is antagonistic to them or they are afraid to speak up to make the offer.
  4. Attendance becomes a problem. It can start small, like employees leaving the second work hours are over even if projects are incomplete for deadlines. They may begin to sneak out five minutes early or take longer breaks. They might start calling in sick on a frequent basis, which hurts productivity and the morale of the remaining staff.

One employee exhibiting the above signs may be indicative of a problem with that particular individual. However, if employers notice numerous employees are showing symptoms, it may be time to take a closer look at company management and their leadership styles. Recognizing the signs of an unhappy staff can allow leaders to address the problem before it devolves into widespread absenteeism. To learn more about absence management, contact the experts at Actec.

4 Hidden Sources of Germs Making Employees Sick

Posted on

November 25th, 2019

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With cold and flu season well underway, many employers are keeping a wary eye out for the telltale sniffles and sneezing that precede an office-wide breakout of illnesses. While workplaces can take several steps to reduce the likelihood of spreading germs, germs linger in several sneaky places. Without addressing these areas, employees can begin to fall ill and not understand why. The following are some of the biggest sources of germs that hide in plain sight:

  1. Kitchen faucets. Everyone knows that office bathrooms are breeding grounds for disease as multiple people touch the door handles, faucet knobs, and towel dispensers. As a result, employees take more precautions in this high-traffic area. However, they rarely give the same attention to kitchen faucets. If the office has a breakroom or a kitchen area with a sink, it can be a breeding ground for germs.
  2. Cellphones. People use their phones more than ever and it’s become a Petri dish employees carry with them everywhere they go. Hands and mouths are the most common human sources of germs and both interact with phones on a regular basis. If employees pass around phones to share ideas or socialize during lunch, they could be spreading illness without realizing it.
  3. Gym equipment. Many workplaces offer access to onsite gyms or gym memberships to their employees as part of a wellness program. While exercise improves the immune system, gyms house a lot of germs that aren’t often correctly dealt with in a timely manner. While gym-goers should wipe down equipment before and after use as a standard of etiquette, a wet towel isn’t enough to disinfect it.
  4. Money. Employees go out for lunch or have meetings with clients over coffee all the time. During these interactions, they’re going to exchange cash, coins, or cards with the wait staff. Even if the restaurant requires employees to wash hands, there is no accounting for where money has been or whose hands it passed through.

Identifying the hidden sources of germs allows employees to take steps to prevent falling ill or spreading disease throughout the workplace. Frequent hand washing, keeping hand sanitizer close by, and avoiding touching the mouth, nose, or face can all help reduce an office-wide flu pandemic. If your workplace is struggling with illness and frequent absences, the experts at Actec can help. Contact us to learn about how our absence management system can reduce absenteeism and improve other elements of employee attendance.