Discipline is fundamental to success and the collective discipline of employees towards a common cause is what makes a successful company. Are you aware of the effects that a lack of discipline can have on productivity in your business?
Kevin Howell, founder of Ouch!, explains how you can use time and attendance management and foster a culture of discipline to elevate productivity in your business.
In the examination of effects of time management on overall productivity, a distinction must first be made between ‘time’ and the concept of ‘working time’. Working time refers to any period during which your worker works at your disposal and carries out their activities or duties, and any period during which your worker is receiving ‘relevant training’. It also includes any additional period which is to be treated as working time under a relevant agreement such as travelling (if part of the job) or working lunches.
This distinction is an important one as the concept of working time does not include travelling between home and work, and lunch breaks. Working time essentially belongs to the employer, while legally and contractually mandated breaks as well as the period before and after work, belongs to the employee. The challenge that most businesses face comes about when employee behaviour infringes on working time. This includes arriving late to work, ducking out early or being absent without being sick or without approved leave.
The extent to which your workforce abides by and honours working time is what Howell calls employee discipline. “We are all aware of the commonly identified drains on productivity such as fatigue, company culture, workplace distractions, time spent on social media, scheduling too many pointless meetings etc. but what all these factors come down to at the end of the day is a lack of discipline. And in my experience, lack of employee discipline is most pervasive when it comes to the basic principles of punctuality and absenteeism.”
Business owners greatly underestimate the effect that employee discipline – or lack thereof – can have on productivity, efficiency and most concerning of all, the bottom line. “Once we get to the stage where the effects of a lack in discipline and misuse of company time are visible on a company’s balance sheet, we can conclude that there are several processes in day to day operations that need to be examined, fixed and optimised,” says Howell. “There are numerous contributing factors to this but we find that the effect of employee discipline on productivity usually lies at the heart of the issue.”
A drop in productivity and failure to meet set goals, targets and deadlines are strong indicators of a lack of employee discipline. While the effects can vary, Howell says all it takes is a single individual to have a ripple effect across an entire department or even an entire business.
“Optimal productivity is impossible without employee discipline. If someone is chronically late for work or frequently absent, the rest of the team is missing a part of the overall machine and will either be held up, unable to continue with a task or will function at a lower capacity as they battle to make up for the missing link.”
Howell asserts that most business owners are aware of the positive effects of increased productivity but are not aware of how much decreased productivity is costing them.
“It’s a no brainer that efficient businesses do everything possible to maximise output. Improving employee discipline has a direct effect on productivity which then creates opportunities to optimise efficiency. If productivity increases without an increase in operational costs, a firm has improved efficiency. This in turn improves a business’ competitiveness in the market, unlocks value and results in increased profits,” Howell explains. “This is because efficiency, productivity and competitiveness are intrinsically linked.”
When working with clients in the roll out of Ouch! time and attendance management solutions, Howell says that the Ouch! team has found attendance to be the best place to start in creating a culture of discipline. “If we start tackling employee discipline just on attendance, we can significantly mitigate the effects on your company’s productivity. Attendance includes arriving for work (on time), returning promptly from breaks and adhering to the period allowed.”
According to Occupational Care South Africa (OCSA), absenteeism is costing the South African economy between R12-billion and R16-billion per year. This equates to approximately 15% of employees being absent from work on any given day which adds up to hundreds of working days lost. Additional research shows that South African businesses are losing as much as 17% of their payroll per year to absenteeism. Looking at these statistics it becomes easy to understand why absenteeism is one of the most expensive problems affecting businesses.
Howell cautions that while most cases of absenteeism are due to legitimate reasons, habitual absentees in a company are caused by a lack of employee discipline. “Developing a structured environment enforces a disciplined culture amongst employees, which will decrease the unwanted habit of employees misusing company time. Ouch! provides an affordable, state of the art and easy to use solution to this, with our range of biometric and tag-based units.”
Ouch! has developed systems and a range of time and attendance products that manage employee attendance.