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Now that we’re into the month of December and the holiday season has kicked into full gear, here’s a question just about every manager probably has on their mind: Just how much work am I getting out of my employees this month, anyway?

Well, regardless of your religious affiliation the end-of-the-year holiday season impacts every workplace, and every worker, whether it’s retail, manufacturing, or healthcare. And, as someone who manages people, you probably only too well, that your employees will likely be distracted and stressed at this time of the year.

This article from Entrepreneur and Glassdoor titled 7 Ways to Manage Employee HolidayTime Off’ is a useful guide for any manager:

1. Plan in advance: Many industrial businesses have their holiday schedule planned well in advance, and there’s no reason any type of business can’t do that either. According to Brian Koniuk, a principal at the HackettGroup, manufacturers typically require employees to plan out their vacation for the coming year so they know in January who is working what holiday and who is off for the entire year. In other industries, like health care, Koniuk says schedules are made three to five months in advance.

 2. First come, first served: If you are running a business that is busy during the holidays or needs to be staffed 24/7 year-round, one way to prevent employees from taking off in large numbers is to limit the amount and give workers off on a first come, first served basis, says Pat Sweeney, human resource manager at Old Colony Hospice and Palliative Care. “If they know they are going to want to be off over the holidays they know they have to ask for the time off way in advance,” says Sweeney. She says that starting as early as September supervisors can notify the staff that requests for time off have to be made as soon as possible. Hand in hand with a first come, first served policy is capping the number of people that can take off during the holidays.

 3. Stagger the schedule: You may not be able to keep a full staff during the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you have to close early or provide a reduced level of service. To combat that, Kathy Harris, managing director of recruiting firm Harris Allied, says to stagger your employee vacation scheduling. For instance, you can have someone work in the morning during the holidays and another worker take the afternoon shift. Another option: have one employee work Monday and Tuesday and another Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The idea behind a staggered employee vacation schedule is to always have coverage, and at the same time, give employees time off during the holidays.

4. Keep a pool of part-timers: If you are operating a business that picks up during the holiday season, or you know a lot of your staff will be gone during that time, it’s a good idea to keep a pool of part-timers that you can tap when you need extra help, says Gary Should is, a small business consultant, coach and owner of a gymnastics center. “We have a pool of part-timers that we know can work the holidays,” says Should is. “Whenever we hit the holiday period or periods where we lose part of our staff they come on.” According to Should is, it’s a good idea to keep in contact with these part-timers year-round so you’ll know their availability ahead of time. Another option is to post a job in anticipation for holiday hiring.

5. Offer a holiday pay differential: For some people money talks even if it means they won’t be with their family during the holidays, which is why offering a holiday pay differential can keep your business staffed. According to Sweeney, it should be something that is part of the company’s structure and not something you offer just to entice an employee not to take off. “If you’re in a business you know there are a lot of requests for time off you can have some differential built in,” she says.

 6. Institute a vacation blackout period: For some businesses, particularly retail, the holidays are the busiest time for them, which means they need a full staff if not more. If your business falls into this category, a way to prevent employees from taking off is to have a blackout period where no one can take off, says Tanios. If an employee wants off during a blackout period he or she would need to ask well in advance, and it would be at the manager’s discretion, says Tanios. It’s a good idea to inform employees from the beginning of the blackout policy so they aren’t blindsided come holiday time.

 7. Let employees work at home: These days pretty much everybody has a laptop, iPad or smartphone that enables them to work remotely. If your staff doesn’t have to be on site, letting them work at home during the holidays can be a productive way to get things done without having to bring in additional staff. Working at home is a viable option only if the business lends itself to it and there’s away to ensure the employees are actually working. “In this day and age working from a virtual office anywhere is possible,” says Sweeney.

Bottom-line: During the holiday season, employees are likely dreaming of cozying up in Christmas sweaters with their egg-nogs or just dreading that visit from relatives that they see only once a year. Employees will be stressed out enough as it is, anything you can do as their manager to bring joy, could increase productivity and yes, profit to the bottom line.

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This past Sunday, November 4, 2018, at 2:00 a.m., daylight savings time occurred with many provinces and states across the US setting their clocks one hour back. And, every year, a growing chorus of health professionals, bemoans the need for this and, like many of us, ask why is it we simply don’t get rid of daylight savings time altogether.

Here is an excerpt from a recent article with some compelling reasons to ditch this yearly ritual, by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) titled Eight scientific reasons to ditch daylight time:

  1. You are eight per cent more likely to have a stroke for two days after changing your clocks.
  2. You are also 24 per cent more likely to have a heart attack the Monday after (and 21 per cent on the Tuesday)
  3. Suicide rates in men increase for two weeks after the clocks change.
  4. Judges give harsher legal sentences the day after switching to daylight time
  5. Losing that hour of sleep increases workplace injuries, and the injuries themselves are much more severe.
  6. You’re also more likely to get into a car crash. In fact, this researcher estimates that over the years, 30 fatalities have been caused by the time change.
  7. Daylight time can lead to a dramatic increase in ‘cyberloafing.’
    In adolescents, it can take over a week to adjust to the change, losing an average of 32 minutes of sleep per night, which messes with their memory and reaction time.

Bottom line: Daylight savings time has served its purpose, whatever purpose it was. Lost productivity and sleepy eyed employees is not exactly what employers expect in their organization. Maybe that’s why the European Union is considering doing away daylight savings time in 2019.

Bottom line: Daylight savings time has served its purpose, whatever purpose that was. Lost productivity and sleepy eyed employees is not exactly what employers expect in their organization. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why the European Union is considering doing away daylight savings time in 2019.

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3 Tips to Help Your Company Embrace a BYOD at Work

September 26th, 2018 | Posted by ATS in Employee Productivity | HR | SmartPhones | Time and Attendance Canada | Time and Attendance Toronto - (Comments Off on 3 Tips to Help Your Company Embrace a BYOD at Work)

Bring your own device (BYOD) concept, has been gaining in popularity for several years and some companies have implemented them with varying degrees of success within their organizations. If your company is considering implementing it, make sure you understand both the pros and cons that come along with it.

3 Tips to Help Your Company Embrace a BYOD at Work

Here are three tips from Jane Harper’s article titled Creating an Effective Cell Phones at Work Policy

“Employee cell phone policy must be consistent: Policies are more prone to collapse when a group of employees are living above them or observing a different version of it. You don’t want to bring in misunderstandings, resentment among team members or be accused of unfair treatment – enemies of productivity. Keeping the policy consistent regardless of sexual orientation, race, age, level, etc, is what makes it effective.

Specify the smart devices employees can use: Is there no need for some smart devices to be allowed? Your policy will be ineffective if it restricts only cell phones. That means employees can bring in personal tablets or similar smart devices to still create the problem you are trying to avoid by limiting cell phones. The policy should categorically state the personal technology permitted during the time of restriction.

Consider safety, security, and privacy: While creating an employee cell phone policy, there is a need to consider safety, security, and privacy. Presenting your policy as a means to only stop employees from work time theft or to only maintain productivity level is not totally ideal. Employees should understand the dangers of using devices while operating machinery or driving. It should be clear that downloading infected attachments on their personal devices could shut down the entire office if passed into to the office network”.

Bring your own device concept (BYOD) will not work for all companies. Because, while the costs will likely be borne by the employee, in such a situation, what happens when that employee leaves the company? It’s obvious that the company the will want the data, and if there is no policy that was drafted to deal with this, it could end up being a bad break-up between employer and employee.

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To learn more, register for one of our weekly webinars, or download brochures or a pre-recorded demonstration. To speak to a representative, call; 866.294.2468.

The traditional way of work is on its way out and is not coming back, much to angst of some. Many North Americans, in particular, millennials are ditching the traditional approach to work which usually involves driving one or two hours to an office. Today’s workers and are instead looking for companies that offer flexible work options and if yours does not, good luck in attracting a range of talent.

Here Are Three Ways To Keep Your Remote Workers Engaged

If your company has embraced the new way of work and has a remote workforce, you probably know it can sometimes be hard to make sure they feel part of the team.  Here are three ways to keep your remote workforce engaged:

  1. Consistently Communicate

A consistent line of communication between you and your remote team members is vital to ensuring workers are engaged, getting the work done are motivated. Occasionally e-mail your remote workers during the day or schedule one or two phone call during the course of the day. Not only does this help them to feel part of the team, it also means you are always accessible and this can help to avoid problems.

  1. Made Good Use of Technology

The latest workforce management solutions and HR applications can help with remote employee engagement.  In addition, cloud-based tools like Skype can provide your company and its remote workers to access a variety of presentations, or obtain important HR and data related information-thus, ensuring team members can remain up to date with the latest and most critical information wherever they are.

  1. Share Feedback

Include your remote workers in important decisions that are part of your company’s overall strategy and/or growth plans. When remote workers are not included in the decisions then can quickly become disengage, and begin to can feel unsupported and unsure of how much their efforts are appreciated by the company. As an organization, you should have faith that your remote staff can work independently and meet operational objectives.

If you work in the white-collar world, you will undoubtedly end up working with or supervising a telecommuting workforce at some point. How you handle remote workers will vary according to whether they work from home in the suburbs a dozen miles away, a few provinces or states away, or in another country.

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As a corporate executive, you can book your business travel and request your preferred seat-from the comfort of your kitchen table or from anywhere in the world by using through your smartphone or tablet. So, why it is that your employees have to call their supervisor or someone in HR to request time-off?

With ATS Employee Self-Service (ESS) employees can request time off by using their smart phone, workstations or tablets from anywhere.

Here Are 5 Reasons Why You Need Employee Self-Service

Here are 5 reasons to use ATS Employee Self-Service:

Good-Bye Spreadsheets- Your employees really hate filling out paper work each time they need time off. ATS Employee Self-Service simplifies and automates employee requests for time off. When a request for time off is made, an email alert is sent directly to the employee’s supervisor to begin the request review process. HR, payroll and managers have decision-making information at their fingertips.

No More Using Emails To Request Leave-With ATS Employee Self-Service your managers no longer have to waste time trying to find that email that was sent some time ago by the employee requesting leave.

Time and Attendance Update Review-Employees can update their availability for shifts, request time off, view schedules, overtime, and trade shifts – letting them better manage their work-life balance.

Your Company’s Communication Tool Of The Future- Engage your entire workforce with a user experience that’s easy to navigate, wherever they are. Let all employees communicate and collaborate, even without a corporate email address.

Approval And Message Centre-You can tailor approval processes to your organization and, authorized users can view and audit the progress and approval status of a workflow to make sure it stays on track. Send personal messages or create and save distribution lists to message multiple employees at once. Notifications, reports and actions requiring an employee’s attention will also be delivered to the ATS Employee Self-Service Message Center.

ATS Self-Service is a powerful tool that will empower your employees and make them feel more engaged, increase their workforce productivity and free up valuable resource within your Payroll and HR departments.

To learn about ATS Employee Self-Service go to our website and download the demo. To reach an account executive by phone, call 866.294.2467.

Here’s More Evidence That We Need Sleep To Be Productive

March 6th, 2018 | Posted by ATS in Careers | Employee Productivity | Employee Self Service | Time and Attendance Blog, Workforce Management Software - (Comments Off on Here’s More Evidence That We Need Sleep To Be Productive)

The benefit of a good nights’ sleep is far-reaching and yet, many of us tend to think four or five hours of sleep is all we need. We also know that going without sleep for too long makes us feel horrible, and that getting a good night’s sleep can make us feel ready to take on the world and tackle projects.  However, the always-on mentality in this current digital era of smart-phones and tablets, has given way to a false sense that less sleep is better.

Here’s More Evidence That We Need Sleep To Be Productive

Here are some tips from a couple of entrepreneurs, Doug and Polly White on the importance of sleep:

“Obviously, sleep is important. Humans need to recharge on a nightly basis to perform well. But work demands, family and personal issues and physical difficulties can get in the way of  a restful night’s sleep.

Quantity
As the numbers above indicate, adults need to sleep between seven and nine hours each night. We find that Doug needs seven while Polly prefers a bit more. To ensure that we get our shut-eye, we go to bed no later than 10 each night. If work demands a 4 a.m. start, we go to bed earlier to make up those zzzzz’s.

This takes discipline, but it’s worth it. Despite what many think, there really is no way to catch up on sleep. Sleeping in on the weekend won’t make up for a lack of sleep during the week.

 Consistency
While we may juggle our bedtime to accommodate an early start, this isn’t our preference. We find that going to bed and getting up at the same time each day helps us to fall asleep quickly and wake up naturally – without an alarm.

 Quality
The number of hours you sleep is important, but so is the quality of your sleep. Health issues, aging, hormonal changes and stress can deprive any of us of healthy sleep. One difficulty that occurs as part of the natural aging process is the inability to stay asleep. Older people may find that they wake up several times a night; however, this can affect younger individuals as well.”

Bottom Line:
Sleeping less than 7-8 hours per night, according to some expert, is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke whereas; longer sleep has been shown to improve many aspects of athletic and physical performance. And, the evidence is clear, a well-rested workforce equates to improved productivity, higher engagement and increased profits.

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Want Happy And Productive Employees? Avoid These Mistakes

February 13th, 2018 | Posted by ATS in Employee Productivity | HR | Leave Management | Productivity | Talent Management | Time and Attendance Blog, Workforce Management Software - (Comments Off on Want Happy And Productive Employees? Avoid These Mistakes)

Some companies extolled the virtues of their corporate philosophy in print and through the recruitment stages as an organization that cherish talent. It’s one thing to brag about how wonderful you are as a company, but it’s something entirely different if those things you talked about during the interview process, to lure good talent, do not materialize, once these candidates, become employees of your organization.

Want Happy And Productive Employees? Avoid These Mistakes

In writing for The HR Digest, Diana Coker dispenses some advice that you should heed in an article titled Dumb HR Policies That Demotivate Employees. Here are some of the things to avoid:

Merging Sick Leave and Vacation
This is one of the stupid rules most offices are still upholding till date, despite deep sensitization on this policy. Forcing your employees to take their vacations because they are sick is the dumbest thing any manager would do. As a manager, would you personally like to have your precious vacation because you are sick? The answer is NO if you want to be sincere. We all plan our vacations and deserve the best moment from it. Offices that merge sick leave and vacation will not only demotivate but encourage their employees to come to work sick, which means low productivity as well as exposing the healthy workers to the sickness if it’s contagious. At the tail end, the sickness goes round to everyone susceptible to it – going round to individuals that would still bring them to the office for more decrease in productivity. If an employee is sick and cannot go home because it would take away his or her vacation, they’ll force themselves to work demotivated.

 Banning Social Media
Recognizing social media as a channel for pleasures and distraction is already offensive and deprives your employees of a social life. Freedom to social media like Facebook or LinkedIn can help your employees to gain access to information that would help improve their performances. You can put it that banning social media limits your employee. Even if the employees are not being very professional as you want, getting their job done should be a criterion. Some employees go worst by banning internet use, that’s completely outrageous and a fight to force down productivity. Instead, keep your employee’s attention focused but don’t take away the trust.

 Crushing self-expression
I still can’t believe that some offices still keep up with this policy. Can employees not display personal belongings on their desk? That’s one of the dumb HR policies that shouldn’t have made it to the 20th century. It’s true that work environments deserve some level of sanity, but at the same time, people deserve to be who they are. This policy creates anxiety at work; it increases stress and renders break times invalid. Allow your employees to create a homey atmosphere. That helps them to be happier at work which improves productivity.

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Are Organizations Responsible for the Happiness of Their Employees?

January 16th, 2018 | Posted by ATS in Benefit Accruals | Employee Productivity | Time and Attendance Blog, Workforce Management Software - (Comments Off on Are Organizations Responsible for the Happiness of Their Employees?)

The happiness of employees at their workplace depends, on many factors, including; the actual jobs they are performing, and to a large degree the type relationship they have with their boss and colleagues among others. A study by the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive.

 

In his article, Happy Employees Is Good For Business Damon Burton lays out 5 benefits of a happy workforce. They include:

  1. Better decision-making abilitiesPeople are better equipped to make decisions when they are cheerful. On-the-job difficulties engender some degree of fear and nervousness in most of humanity, but satisfied people can return to their original mood faster after being faced with adversity.
  2. Happy people sell more– A simple search on Google of “happy people, productivity, success, business” are better at business” returns countless articles and several studies showing happy workers are more productive.   The expression of positive emotions can be an effective bargaining tool.
  3. Greater innovation– There’s strong evidence showing a correlation between happiness and creativity. Some studies have shown that happy employees have higher levels of creativity than unhappy ones. Being happy can free up the brain, allowing for increased mental flexibility and imagination.
  4. Reduction in lost productivityHappy people are healthier. When employees take less sick leave, they are more productive, thus improving the bottom line.
  5. Better customer service– This is a no-brainer. People like happy people. And when it comes to customer service, businesses need to be cheery. When employees’ morale is high, customer interactions reflect it. Happy people are the perfect people pleasers for customer service-based roles.

And, of course there is the conventional wisdom that purports to the fact that if employees are paid well enough they will be happy. While paying employees well should not be discounted, that’s only one component of an engaged, productive and happy workforce.

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The burden of proof for hours worked by its employees is the responsibility of an employer especially in organizations that do not have an automated system. However, many companies might have employee hand books that contain language, which states, in part, that employees are required to record and report time work, and submit their time cards, to their respective supervisors for review and approval.

How Ontario’s Bill 148: Employment Standards Act Reform Could Affect Employers

 

On June 1, 2017 Bill 148, was introduced. If you operate a business in the province of Ontario, here is summary of some of the changes you should prepare for in 2018.

Benefit Accruals, Vacation, Statutory Holiday and Overtime Pay

  • Personal Emergency Leave: Rather than limiting this leave to organizations with more than 50 employees, all workers will be given 10 personal emergency leave days per year – and a minimum of two days would be paid. Further, employees will not have to provide employers with a sick leave note when requesting personal leave.
  • Overtime: The Mixed Hourly Rate (a weighted average established for employees with multiple rates) would be eliminated in favour of paying overtime at the rate of the work performed after the weekly threshold is reached
  • Vacation Entitlement Increase: Minimum vacation entitlement for workers would rise from two to three weeks per year (after five years with the same employer)
  • Public Holiday Pay: Calculation changes for public holiday pay that refer to regular wages in the pay period before the holiday divided by the days worked (rather than a four-week period of regular wages divided by 20)

Employee Workforce Scheduling

  • Three-Hour Rule: Broader application – The rule would extend to unworked on-call situations and when shifts are cancelled within 48 hours of the scheduled start time.
  • Advance notice: Employers must offer employees advance notice of 96 hours or be subject to refusal.
  • Three-Hour Rule: Removal of minimum wage component – Rather than topping up shifts less than three hours to three times the minimum wage, as proposed, eligible employees would be entitled to three times the regular rate.

The reforms to the Bill148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 will work in concert with the rise of the minimum wage that was also enacted into law as well. If your organization is still using an antiquated time tracking system or one that is no longer meeting your needs, it might be time to think about upgrading to a modern time and attendance solution- one that’s specifically, designed to comply with today’s ever changing regulatory and work-rule policies.

To learn more about ATS Time and Attendance Solution, go to our website, where you can download a pre-recorded demonstration, brochures or register for one of our upcoming live webinars.

To reach a representative, call 866.294.2467.

Building A Business Case For Telecommuting

October 18th, 2017 | Posted by ATS in Career | Employee Productivity | HR | Telecommuting Employees | Time and Attendance Blog, Workforce Management Software - (Comments Off on Building A Business Case For Telecommuting)

Want to convince your boss that you should work from home? Make sure you have a compelling case, including facts to prove that working remotely will not impact your productivity. In other words, do your due diligence, talk to your HR personnel, other work colleagues, and be sure to take time to learn about your company’s history as it pertains to telecommuting, otherwise, it could backfire on you.

Building A Business Case For Telecommuting

Here are some tips from Melanie Pinola’s blog on LifeWire titled What You Should Know Before You Ask to Work from Home

“The first thing you should know, if you’ve never worked from home before, is that telecommuting has awesome benefits but it’s not for everyone.

There are many pros and cons to telecommuting. That said, if you want to give it a try, start with the basics below.

Find out what the current policy is

  • Check the employee manual. If there’s an existing remote work policy, then your chances of success are good. You can use the information provided to make your case in your remote work proposal.
  • If there’s no written information but some of your co-workers currently have flexible work arrangements, ask them for advice on proceeding. They’ll have the inside scoop on how easy it was to negotiate the work arrangement and how it’s working out for them.
  • Don’t worry if no one ever has established a flexible work schedule or remote work agreement at the company, though. You can be the first! (In my former job, I was the first person to start working from home regularly as a telecommuter as I was able to prove I could get my job done at home. See below for more details.)

Use your experience to your advantage

  • Because your supervisor’s support and approval will be key to getting your request granted, you’ve got a leg up if you are an established employee whom your supervisor trusts and values. Make sure you maintain that respect and continue to make yourself invaluable to the company.
  • Gather past employee evaluations that had positive comments related to critical telecommuting traits, such as: initiative, ability to work without supervision, and communication skills.
  • If you are a new hire, think about past experience at other companies that prove your ability to telecommute productively, such as occasionally working while traveling for work or working from home when needed on the weekends. If you don’t have past remote work experience, perhaps delay the request, however, until you’ve developed a strong rapport with your supervisor and proven yourself invaluable to the company.

 Be sensitive to your employer’s needs and goals
Look at the company’s mission statements, website description, and other materials to see how they present themselves. If they say they care about their employees’ well-being or are innovative/progressive companies of today, you can use these “branding statements” in your proposal.”

If you are still unable to convince your boss about the benefits of telecommuting, don’t be dishearten, simply try again in a few months. However, if your company has a no telecommuting policy, you should also be respectful of it by either abiding by the company’s policy, or find a company that offers telecommuting to its employees.

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