Shall We Invest Money in Attendance Systems or Extend Trust For Free?

Companies of all sizes have one common problem, attendance. The question is posed as to whether or not an attendance system is the answer. After spending millions to create the ideal system it often does not produce the desired results. Some of these systems are quite advanced and require complicated procedures that include everything from a card swipe to scanning your eye into the system. No matter the complexity of the system, it is often questioned as to whether it is even needed.

The importance of an attendance system is shown by the focus companies turn on it. Think about the company meeting where a manager spends an hour or two lecturing on the importance of attendance. Performance appraisals are often linked to attendance. It is considered a responsibility and a duty to the company for which one was hired for. People lose their jobs if their attendance is considered under par. Is this really fair? What other options are there?

What are the attendance systems being used by companies? Why are they not working?

Attendance systems are in place for different reason among companies. The big companies are trying to keep track of who is actually showing up and small businesses are trying to keep payroll simple. Regardless of size they are trying the same methods.

  1. We will start with the easiest and most often used by smaller ran companies. The sign in sheet. The way it works is basic; the employee shows up and writes down what time they have arrived. The variation of this is the basic punch in clock. While it does keep track of employees time when they do not abuse the system. Often, though, it is abused. Friends will punch in for their friends who are running late or taking the day off. Other times, co-workers who will stay later than others and punch their friends out when they leave. The most obvious problem with this system is that employers are over paying employees that are not actually working. Productivity is low because the work that should be reflected is off because of the difference in man hours being actually put in. The other side of this is that there may be other employees that are working off the clock to increase productivity. Some employees will end up over worked while others are not working at all.
  2. Computer based systems that issue a pin number that the employee uses to access the time clock. The use is so simple that it is preferred by most human resource departments. Not only does it keep time records in a single place, it also has a small window for errors. Payroll is just a matter of processing the hours. They are notified if any individual is not showing up and of any overtime. The problem is that with this system is it does not guarantee that the people shown to be at work are in fact in the building. There is nothing to prove that they are not enter their pin and leaving or having someone enters their pin for them. It takes away resources for running the system and for any abuse that the employees perform. The card swipe system is a variation of this and does not solve any of these issues.
  3. The most invasive of all systems are the ones that make the employee use a finger print or eye scan to enter their time of arrival and departure in the time management system. This is a very costly way of managing time. It does solve the problem of friends and co-worker entering each other into the system. It also does not allow the human abuse. While in theory this is a solution of the problem, it does not make individuals personally responsible for staying where they are supposed to be. However, there are many legal questions that arise from this. Can a company enforce someone give a fingerprint scan or eye scan? Can a company legally terminate an individual if they refuse the scan? Is it a breach of privacy to request such personal information? Does it have any further long-run health impacts?
What is the Alternative?

New studies have suggested that rather than enforce a time management system that obviously is flawed; it would be better to promote a trust based system. The way it would work is the employee is given tasks to perform rather than being required to be in attendance for a set number of hours. The employee is then evaluated on what he/she actually accomplished. Productivity is the goal. When given this alternative employees were more likely to succeed.

Take the Google Corporation as an example. They are integrated into our culture so much that they have become a daily part of life. Recent studies have reported how their innovative time management solutions have made them the role model for success. They do not practice what has been termed “adult sitting”. They give assignments and deadlines and pay based on that. They do not track what person is in and out of their doors. Simply, they extend trust.

Which way is the right way?

Needless to say, that as the employer, you must be the role model. Realistically you cannot expect an employee to do what you are not doing. If you are practicing what you want them to do; they will follow in your footsteps. Establishing a “trust based system” will save you thousands and support as well building a healthy working culture. It can be an effective way to cut costs and raise productivity if the whole team works as a unit from the top and all the way down.

Is there a truly right way that will give the solution for every company at once? What works for you may not work for me. Some companies have decided that it is best left to the individual to decide how to complete what needs to be done. Other companies find that it needs a way to track how many people are in the building at any given time in case of emergency, like fire for example. Some will argue that systems based on trust will cost a company much more in the long run. It seems that the truth lies within each individual company.

The common ground remains the same; trust is a key success factor for all.


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