Biggest Workplace Time Wasters

Posted on

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.

How to Create an Office Environment Employees Will Love

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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.

Benefits of Fostering a Culture of Workplace Wellness

Posted on

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.

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 Questions to Ask When Employees Take Prolonged Breaks

Posted on

May 20th, 2019

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Absenteeism is a problem all workplaces have to manage. However, attendance problems aren’t limited to employees abusing their sick leave or calling out without notice on a regular basis. Smaller problems, such as tardiness, skipping out early, or excessively long lunch breaks can erode productivity and staff morale.

Long lunches can be particularly hard to notice since they occur in the middle of the day. Many employees take their lunch break at their leisure and the time can shift from day to day depending on meetings, projects deadlines, and more. Companies that allow for flexible work hours may have an even harder time noticing the long lunch breaks since employees arrive and leave at various hours.

Even so, there are several steps employers can take to rectify the issue without revoking the flexibility the rest of the staff enjoys and doesn’t misuse. Before approaching the employee, managers should try to identify possible explanations before jumping to biased conclusions. The following questions can help provide insight:

  1. Has the employee recently taken on more challenging work?
  2. Has a major life change occurred for the employee such as a new child, marriage, or family member moving in with them?
  3. Are employees aware of who to talk to when they are overwhelmed or unsure of their responsibilities?
  4. Do your employees have the tools they need to complete their work?
  5. Does the company’s culture encourage open lines of communication?

Answering these questions can tell management a great deal before even speaking with the employee. It is quite possible the problem lies more with the company culture than the employee if the individual feels unable to ask questions or communicate with their boss.

3 Likely Reasons for Long Breaks

While every employee’s situation is unique, a few common scenarios most often account for why employees take long lunches or frequent breaks during the day.

  1. There is a health issue or family concern. If an employee opts to share this information, employers should approach the situation with understanding and compassion. There may be federally mandated leave options for the employee as well to help them address the issue effectively before returning to work.
  2. They don’t feel challenged. Simple boredom can result in an hour-long lunch stretching into an hour and a half. If employees find their work to be dull and uninspiring, they aren’t going to feel compelled to return to the workplace. If that’s the case, offering these employees professional development opportunities or discussing increasing their responsibilities can be a step in the right direction.
  3. They are overwhelmed. If the employee recently took on new projects or responsibilities, the long breaks may be a way for him or her to escape from the new stressors. Discuss the challenges with the employee to identify easy to remove roadblocks or develop better work habits to help the individual manage his or her workload more effectively.

Ignoring attendance problems never ends well. In fact, other employees will notice the lack of response and will either grow resentful or emulate the behavior themselves. Implementing a robust absence reporting program can help identify attendance issues before they become a major concern as well as reduce absenteeism. To learn more, contact the experts at Actec.

How to Manage Social Media in the Workplace

Posted on

July 12th, 2017

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shutterstock_252811903 - CopyMost employees have easy access to social media while in the workplace. Whether their job requires them to use a computer or they have a smartphone, social media is within their reach during the workday. While social media has made it easier for people to stay connected, it has also caused problems for employers.
Angry employees can damage a company’s reputation by broadcasting their frustrations to a large internet audience. Workplace productivity can also suffer due to distracted employees checking for updates and posting to their social accounts. Social media can begin to take its toll on employee attendance as well due to extended or frequent breaks to check for updates.
Many employers are struggling with how to handle social media in the workplace. Smart employers can harness the power of social media to boost exposure and sales. However, before using social media to their benefit, employers need to address social media use by their staff. Below are several tips for managing social media in the office.

Monitor Employee Productivity

Not all social media sites are public, so employers cannot always see if employees are using them during the workday. However, a sudden dip in productivity may be due to excessive time on social media. If an employer establishes performance expectations and a review process, employees will focus more on meeting goals and deadlines than checking social media to ensure a positive review.

Be Aware of Unhappy Employees

Most unhappy employees are the product of a difficult work atmosphere. Employers can train managers to recognize signs of dissatisfaction and to monitor employees for potential rifts. Employers can prevent a social media incident by identifying potential conflicts and addressing workplace disputes before they get out of control.

Put a Policy in Place

Putting a social media clause within the company handbook can help provide guidelines for social media use both in and out of the office. The policy can discuss confidentiality to protect sensitive company information. Employers should also communicate their expectations of how employees can or cannot use social media during the workday. If an employer does not want employees updating their social sites while at work, they need to make this clear. Be sure the policy is enforceable; otherwise, it carries no weight.
Social media can affect a company’s reputation, employee productivity, and employee attendance. By taking the proper steps, employers can mitigate these difficulties. To learn more about how social media affects absence management, contact Actec.