Time for a Little T&A

Well, I’ve got good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that this post isn’t about the kind of T&A you’re thinking. The good news is that it’s EVEN BETTER: Time & Attendance, a crucial part of any successful retail operation. If you’re not as excited as I am about the topic, chances are you’re what society deems a “normal person.” And that’s good for you. Sanity is another crucial part of any retail operation. And this is why I’ve been asked to write this post: because my unbridled enthusiasm for T&A (giggle it out now, because I’m going to use this a lot) makes me the perfect candidate to discuss the topic in a manner interesting to you, the normal person. OK, then. On we go.

Any business is useless without its employees being there. That’s why you hire them in the first place. But payroll for those employees can account for up to 50% of your operating costs, which is what makes it so important to track their time very accurately. It’s even more crucial for retail and hospitality businesses, where employees are often part time and have unpredictable schedules. Ironically, the management of your people is a job best left to— well, not people. People, as a species, are brilliantly flawed. And what I mean by that is despite the fact that we are prone to errors, and misinterpretation, and daydreaming about marshmallows, we can still invent tiny little machines that do all this tracking and calculating for us, much better than we ever could ourselves. The point is that manual tracking and scheduling of your employees’ time is fraught with potential problems that will cost you money.

By automating your T&A tracking with these tiny machines—let’s call them computers—it becomes possible to run a tighter, more efficient and cost-effective ship (assuming your business is on a ship, but the same principle applies for all other locations). Take those computers and stick them in the cloud, and you effectively extend the range of your scheduling system out to each of your employees’ homes. This is what’s at the heart of Ximble’s online T&A platform.

Consider the manual alternative, and how Ximble addresses its inherent issues:

1• You need timesheets for your timesheets. Each manual timesheet can take up to 7 minutes to review and that needs to be multiplied by the number of employees you have. What’s worse—what with human fallibility and all—those doing the reviewing don’t always get it right. And that’s assuming the employee who filled out the timesheet got it right, too. These errors alone account for 1% – 7% of payroll costs. With Ximble’s time-clock running in parallel with your scheduling system reconciling hours scheduled vs. hours worked. The hours needed to do this manually are eliminated and possible human error is drastically reduced.

2• Scheduling is often an act of faith. It’s hard to keep track of who’s available and when, who wants time off; sometimes getting it right on first shot is a total crapshoot. A good T&A add-on will streamline communication by keeping all of this information in one place. Employees can put in requests for time off or preferences for days to work and everyone has visibility to everyone else. If an employee backs out of a shift, being able to look in one place and see who is available makes it easier for everyone. A cloud-based T&A solution makes things even easier, by adding mobile access to the time-tracking system. With smartphone apps, your employees will be able check for and request open shifts, view the schedule wherever they are, and receive alerts reminding them of upcoming shifts.

3• With manual T&A, there’s no good reporting on who’s reporting. Again, it’s the simple difference of having all your data in one place that makes making sense of it simple. See who your most reliable people are, and discover which ones are chronically late or tend to clock out early. You can translate your schedule—past or future—directly into labor costs for a crystal clear picture of how each employee costs.

4• You are so over overscheduling. Sometimes having just one too many staff on hand can be a drag on your profits. By integrating T&A with your POS, and Ximble does this with Kounta, you get a clearer picture of how much staff you actually need at any given time. By comparing sales trends and busy hours of a time period with your labor costs, you can more properly plan and prevent overstaffing during slow times.

5• Let’s be honest: some folks are dishonest. By and large, people are a decent sort; just don’t watch the news and then engage with the people around you. Faith in humanity restored. If nine out of ten of your employees are great, that still leaves you with one who can cost you money you don’t need to spend by gaming the time system. And if you’ve got two bad apples, you run the risk of “Buddy Punching,” which is not a sequel to “Bum Fights” like it sounds. It’s estimated that 75% of the businesses in the U.S. have employees clocking in co-workers when they’re not even there, which can account for up to 7% of payroll costs. With Ximble’s mobile apps, all time punches from a smartphone are stamped with GPS data tied to a user account, so you can see if your late employee clocked in from his car on the way to work.

Now, I realize that the year is 2015, and there probably aren’t a lot of people still using handwritten timesheets, or even old-school timeclocks. You’ve probably gone digital in some form or another. But you’ll notice, in the example above, how doing things from the cloud helps to streamline the automation process. If you’ve gotten rid of your multiple stacks of paper, good! But if your people still need to be onsite to interact with your scheduling apparatus, you’re still behind the curve. Going mobile adds greater accountability and makes the whole process more transparent. And as part of a complete solution to help run your business, a little T&A is never gratuitous.

This post was written by Dave Eagle, a writer for Kounta.com. Kounta is the best-in-class Cloud based Point of Sale Software designed for hospitality and retail settings. Thousands of businesses rely on Kounta to ring up sales, track inventory, connect with customers, and generally make their lives easier.

Karin Jakovljevic

About the author

Karin Jakovljevic

Karin Jakovljevic is the head of marketing at Ximble, a powerful, cloud-based workforce management system, simplifying employee scheduling and time tracking for retailers, restaurants and small businesses.

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