Successful organizations often share a differentiating organizational characteristic: they empower employee decision making. Moment to moment, empowered employees make decisions that benefit the customer and the employer in any situation. This gives the organization an overall flexibility and responsiveness that can be a considerable competitive advantage.
However, there is an important component to empowered employee decision making. In order to make the beneficial choices, employees need access to information that gives their decisions context. Whether the variables are internal or external, employees with access to informational resources are best able to determine a beneficial course of action and proceed accordingly.
Employee Participation in Workforce Management
Employees can also be empowered to make decisions that help an organization better manage its workforce. Common activities such as scheduling leave, adjusting work schedules, accurately tracking and submitting time, and managing personal information are actions that employees, if they have access to the right information, can take that benefit both the employee and the organization overall. Making information available that improves workforce-related employee decisions not only empowers employees to make smart time-management choices, but it improves:
- Communication. Employees can better explain their time-management decisions to supervisors.
- Productivity. Employees can better assess how they fit in their department’s productivity “picture.”
- Leave-taking. Employees can determine when to take leave so that their absence is least felt by their associates.
These unique benefits contribute to better time management by employees, which, in turn, eases workforce-management issues faced by their employer.
The Benefits of Employee Self-Service
What’s the best way to give employees access to time-management information for empowered decision making? Implement a time and attendance system featuring an employee portal that allows for “self-service.” This means employees can access their personal time and attendance information, plus group or department information the organization feels is appropriate.
Employee self-service typically provides workers seven distinct benefits:
- Access to personal information. This can include work schedule, timecard and available leave such as sick time and vacation. Giving employees immediate and up-to-date access to schedules and leave balances limits administrative requests for this type of information and provides employees an important sense of ownership.
- Workflow management. Employees can easily log time in multiple job roles, tracking time to the right project, customer or job, encouraging them to take an active role in accurately tracking and managing their productivity.
- Confidential way to request leave. Requesting time off can be handled privately within the system, including the final approval or denial of the request. This can be helpful in sensitive situations such as personal or family medical issues, helping employees feel protected and helping the employer ensure supervisors are following correct protocol when reviewing and responding to leave requests.
- Overview of department schedule. Employees can view their team or department schedule, including colleagues’ time off. This ability gives employees important context when it comes to their own time-management decisions. For example, seeing how their absence affects coworkers’ schedules can encourage employees to carefully consider whether or not to schedule a vacation during a busy time of year.
- Ability to manage personal information. This can include a change of address or marital status. Again, this gives employees a sense of privacy and control over their personal information and encourages them to keep their information up-to-date, helping employers stay compliant with recordkeeping obligations.
- Enhanced communication with their manager. Time-related communication between employee and supervisor through a private message board encourages two-way communication and confidentiality. Time and attendance issues can be privately discussed within the system’s messaging feature but easily tracked by the organization if related complaints arise.
- Self-authorization of timecard. Employees can authorize their own time- card at the end of a pay period to indicate they agree with the totals before submitting them to their supervisor for approval. This ensures employees and supervisors are in agreement of time worked (and paid for) during the pay period.
Each benefit of self-service contributes to better communication, productivity and leave-taking by employees. Providing workers the context to make better organization-focused time-management decisions and handle personal time and attendance administrative activities will smooth potential workforce management issues for the organization overall.