Selecting the most suitable attendance policy for your organization is never an easy task. These seven considerations should help you choose between flexi-time attendance or fixed-time attendance.

Most organizations employ a time and attendance management system that help them to not only capture data for compliance, but also to increase employee engagement. This helps ensure their most important asset is utilized efficiently.

Yes, employers do need to capture attendance, but employees hate the process. Major employees don’t realize that under the Factories Act, the employer actually needs to file a report called the Register of leave with wages annually and maintain these records for at least three years. Besides  regulatory compliance, capturing attendance is important for business needs, productivity and discipline.

Factors that determine the most suitable attendance type for your organization/team

How you capture attendance and how flexible can you be about it differs from organization to organization based on nature of work, the industry you’re in and the product/service offerings you provide. One should consider the following seven factors when deciding for flexi-time or fixed-time attendance:

Nature of work/ business requirements

More often than not, this factor decides the type of attendance that’s most suitable for your organization or department. If you are working in the ‘services’ industry, as a nurse, doctor, bank teller, customer-facing representative, hospitality staff, etc.; usually fixed-time attendance system is implemented. The customer service department or employees in the service industry find fixed shifts more suitable as this enables them to provide timely support and response to their customers. Medical professionals also work based on fixed-time/shift-based attendance policies. As you will be dealing directly with people, there’s a time bound to timing of service provided.

When dealing with physical goods, such as in the manufacturing, construction or agricultural sector, fixed timing is preferred once again. If your organization is into shares and commodities trading, your employees have to start their work on the dot! Work has to start when the market opens; thus requiring fixed-time attendance policy.

In workplaces where work is done on laptops and employees have the flexibility to take work home, flexi-time attendance is possible. With the evolution of the IT industry, flexi-time attendance is gaining acceptance. Many multinational companies follow this norm. Most IT employees work in outsourced or offshored projects wherein they work in different time zones. They are either co-located or work remotely. The Internet and online collaboration tools make their work life very flexible.

Office location(s) and commuting time

Few people live close to work and our cities are getting crowded by the day. Traffic snarls, unpredictable weather, unending construction and diversions, commuting to work and back home is something most employees dread. If possible, some flexibility for arrival and departure of a person can help reduce this pain. Alternatively you can consider shifting your normal business hours to help here. HAL, Bangalore for example, has its general shift early in the day. (they start work approximately at 7:30am and finish their day at 3:30pm)

Maintaining work-life balance

As we grow, so do our responsibilities. Looking after aging parents, dropping off kids to school and running errands (especially related to banks or government offices), all require us to juggle between work and life’s priorities. Look at the demographics of your organization and see how many employees would benefit from a flexi-time attendance policy. Ultimately, happy employees are more loyal and productive.

What is best for the team

Switching to a fluid workspace is largely about experimenting to find your fit. Each individual has a different clock for their peak productivity. Some need external discipline to stay focused and complete tasks on time while others (aka the creative junta) might be able to extract excellent creativity and display high productivity during late nights. If your organization can work using online collaboration tools such as Slack or Deskaway, there isn’t any problem in experimenting with flexi-time attendance. One can start it as a pilot project for the most mature division and evaluate the results before rolling out the scheme for the entire company.

Technological advances

In today’s digital age, organizations and employees are spread across the globe. Work from home and on-site work from client locations are on the rise. Fluid attendance policies, such as work-from-home and flexi-hours make it increasingly difficult to capture productive hours.

But, technology makes it easy. It can easily capture remote or on-site  attendance of your employees.

Cost

Having a fixed-time attendance policy in place adds more overhead costs to a firm than having a flexi-time attendance policy. More electricity, water, food and additional support for housekeeping staff to maintain the office are required; thus increasing the cost.

Retention of high-quality talent

If your organization is into creatives such video production houses, ad agencies, magazines, social media and communication agencies, etc., you may want to retain top quality creative talent! Benefits of flexible working patterns like work-life balance, better well being, more trust between employees and employer and better loyalty help retain creative employees.

So, how to do it all? Is there a software that can take care of both flexi and fixed-time attendance schemes? Can the attendance schemes and rules be configured to organization’s needs?

The Answer is YES!

Probable attendance policies and options

Following are different kinds of options for a traditional workday. One can experiment with these options for a pilot project.

  • Employees can work different hours, which usually involves them coming in to work either earlier or leaving later. For instance, instead of working 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., flexi-time employees might work 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. or 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Another option allows employees to alternate between a four-days a week than a traditional five-days a week, thus permitting an extended three-day weekend. Another option can be: employees work for 10 days straight (including weekends) and then enjoy four consecutive days off. The possibilities here are only limited by what works for your business.
  • Another option to consider and implement is the idea of ‘compensatory off’. This refers to employees working more hours than usual on a particular day of a week but not being paid overtime. Instead, employees can leave early on some days or take a day off to balance out their required hours.

Closing notes

For today’s digital and knowledge economy, just capturing time in and time out for the sake of payrolls or just for marking attendance is not enough.

Your time and attendance system should not be a silo solution; an ideal solution would be a tool that captures not only accurate data for time and attendance but can also be used by HR personnel for driving employee engagement and productivity. Your organization needs a time and attendance management system that can also integrate seamlessly with your payroll software. No matter what attendance type or scheme you implement, make sure teamwork doesn’t suffer. Make sure communication lines are open. Always.

What have you implemented at your firm: Flexi time or fixed time? Why? Let us know your views. We would love to hear from you.