Kronos Tackles Unscheduled Absenteeism with Labor Software
November 1, 2005 Alex Woodie
Here are some sobering statistics: On any given day, nearly one in 10 employees is unexpectedly absent from work, and over a year, this lost productivity costs employers $3,600 per hourly employee. Getting a better handle on the affects of unscheduled absenteeism was one of the hot topics at this year’s KronosWorks, the annual user conference that OS/400 labor management software developer Kronos held last month in Las Vegas, a town that’s no stranger to lost wages or unscheduled absenteeism.
It should come as no surprise that people continue to make up the bulk of organizations’ operating costs. This is especially true in service-intensive industries, such as hospitality, government, and healthcare, but it’s also the case in the traditional AS/400 sweet spot of distribution, manufacturing, and retailing. (The multi-billion dollar corporation that subsists with about 70 employees, as showcased in a recent issue of Baseline Magazine, is surely an exception, but energy-trading firms often get by with extremely sparse staffs.)
So if organizations are aware that employees are their most valuable (and expensive) asset, why don’t they do more to track the consequences of unscheduled absenteeism as closely as they do other “human capital” costs, such as healthcare? This is the question posed by Circadian Technologies, a Massachusetts research and consulting firm (and the source of the above statistics) in its white paper “Absenteeism: The Bottom-line Killer,” which is available on the Kronos Web site.
While there’s no way to completely eliminate unscheduled absenteeism, which Circadian defines as sick days, disability, and time off due to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Workers’ Compensation, companies can recoup some of the costs of unscheduled absenteeism if they track it better and are better prepared to deal with it. According to Circadian, a company with 5,000 hourly employees has the potential to reduce costs by over $7.9 million per year, or 3.2 percent of total payroll, by paying more attention to the phenomenon and avoiding its profit-sucking affects, including lost productivity, excess staffing, excess overtime pay, and use of temp workers to replace the unexpected no-shows.
Kronos acknowledges that unscheduled absenteeism is a “growing problem,” and has taken steps to help employers address it in the latest releases of its labor management software, including OS/400-based iSeries Central and Workforce Central, which runs on Unix and Windows servers.
iSeries Central 5.1
Many of the features that will enable labor managers to more effectively deal with no-show situations are included in the iSeries Scheduler Module, a new module in the iSeries Timekeeper component of the iSeries Central suite version 5.1.
iSeries Scheduler provides frontline labor managers with an assortment of tools for building employee schedules and reacting to events. Managers start out by creating a template that will hold the various positions and the number of employees needed at each position. The next step in building a schedule is the Workload Planner, where details like how many employees are needed at each position and what times they will start and stop, are entered into the system.
The actual employee schedule starts to fill out when managers open their plans in the Schedule Planner program. This is where managers assign shifts to actual employees, or, conversely, assign employees to shifts. If somebody calls in sick, managers can override the schedule assignment. If managers are unsure about who is available to be assigned to a position, they have a friend in a new program called the Schedule Assistant.
The Schedule Assistant is designed to help managers find an employee who’s capable and available to work a given position. The program lets managers filter and sort various pieces of information about the employees, which can help managers make a decision. Managers have eight columns to work with, which they can fill with the following information: whether they’re available; whether they’re certified; employee number; badge number; phone number; expected hours; scheduled hours; worked hours; pay rate; pay type; pay status code; home labor levels; home shift; skill level; hire date; and seniority date.
The Schedule Assistant also includes an Employee Borrowing feature that enables managers who are building a schedule to see a list of employees that they can choose from when assigning employees to the schedule. There is also a capability to restrict which employees can be “borrowed” according to their labor level.
The iSeries Scheduler component contains other programs that managers can use to fine-tune their shift schedules and better prepare for unscheduled absenteeism, including the Availability Templates, which enable managers to define specific days and times that employee or groups will be available to work, and Availability Profiles, where actual names, days, and times are set.
There is also a new certifications master in iSeries Scheduler with version 5.1 where employees’ certifications and the expiration dates of those certifications can be entered. Certain rules can be set against all of these certifications, experience rankings, and availability profiles, and a way to record or ignore violations of those rules.
Other areas of iSeries Central and iSeries Timekeeper have also been enhanced with this release, including: employee accruals reports in iSeries Accruals; attendance reports in iSeries Attendance; the activities transaction code maintenance area of iSeries Activities; changes to the Kronos 4500 biometric device; temporary badge maintenance; the force overtime area of in the Time Editor; and Employee Maintenance, which has been renamed People Editor with this release.
The company has also added various new shortcuts, or “genies,” new APIs, enhancements to security and user profile management, and new installation, testing, and maintenance capabilities. The software is available now.