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ACT Now: Accountability, Compliance, and Transparency (ACT) In Higher Ed Workforce Management

Optimize campus labor productivity and responsibility through an automated workforce management system
University Business, January 2013

Though using outdated manual systems can hinder achieving maximum accountability, compliance, and transparency, many higher education institutions are still using such systems to track time and attendance for their workforce. Introducing an automated workforce management system instead can increase efficiency and maximize productivity and funds. This web seminar, originally broadcast on December 4, 2012, featured the University of Georgia, which realized many benefits after implementing a campuswide automated workforce management system.

Donna Brauckmann
Public Sector Consultant

For the past seven years, I have been focusing on education. As organizations evolve and grow through automation, they move through three phases. The first of the three areas is accountability, which is also the first step of automation. Employees must be engaged in a time management solution. Information must be gathered from different places.

As an organization moves into a semi-automated state, they move into the second area, which is compliance. The compliance area is where companies need to focus on what the practices actually are, rather than just what the policies are.

The third phase of the automation curve is to get transparency and visibility with data. Here, you are giving the right people the transparency they need to make decisions.

Kronos conducted research with the Center for Digital Education on automation in higher education at 117 institutions. We found that 53 percent of higher education institutions do not automate time and attendance. Forty-four percent rely on employees to track their own absences in a centralized system. Though people are honest, the chance for error when people report their own time is very high. Sixty-four percent of polled institutions do not have an automated time-off and request system. This is an area where costs can skyrocket.

There are 3.1 million higher-education employees in the U.S. If they each overstate their time worked by two hours each month, the yearly overpayment cost (assuming $15 an hour) would be $134 million. This does not even account for the business productivity cost of people not being at their place of work when they should be. This can affect the cleanliness, safety, and more of your facility if others have to absorb the work of those who are supposed to be there.

When you are going through processes like attendance automation, there needs to be a refocusing of employees and managers to help clearly define your policies so productivity does not suffer and there is a positive effect on your budget results. The people whom the change affects should embrace it positively.

Mollie Lombardi
Vice President and Principal Analyst, Human Capital Management
Aberdeen Group

Aberdeen Group’s research examines workforce management policies in the public sector. What makes our research unique is our PACE framework, which takes a holistic view of the external and internal factors that impact an organization, the strategic approaches an organization takes in response to pressures, the competencies required to execute strategic actions, and the technology solutions required to support the organization’s capabilities.

We talk about what “best in class” looks like, and more importantly, what your organization can do to get there. Workforce management is changing, and there are so many manual processes we can get stuck in. There is a need to be more productive, not only from an overall workforce perspective, but from a human capital perspective. Organizations need to explore how to be more productive, how to take advantage of automation, and enable that drive for compliance and transparency and accountability.

The need to better manage labor and control costs is the top workforce management pressure for 73 percent of our surveyed organizations. Analytics can be used by public sector organizations to improve visibility with their workforce data. It comes down to using analytics in ways that help your organization be more accountable to your workers, managers, and the public at large. Having that visibility is important in the public sector.

Compliance, transparency, and accountability are both the goals and challenges public sector organizations are facing. The question is, what are organizations doing to push past these challenges and meet these goals? Automation of workforce management systems was found as the number one strategy of best in class organizations in addressing these issues. Automation not only can capture data in new ways, but also can help you use that data in to drive value for your organization.

Over half of higher-education organizations do not automate time and attendance; what we found was that the organizations who do automate yield 12 percent year-on-year greater workforce capacity utilization than those who do not. Clearly, automation is critical in achieving those goals of improving workforce efficiency. Automation drives the organizational processes that support the goal of improving productivity and reducing labor costs.

Not only does automation help organizations achieve these goals, but it helps them be that strategic business partner to their employees and general stakeholders.

Chris H. Wilkins  
IT Director for Finance & Administration
University of Georgia

The University of Georgia had some electronic processes prior to bringing in Kronos’ workforce management automation system. We had an electronic voucher program where departmental payroll staff would enter high-level payroll information on their employees. Employees tracked their own time, for the most part on paper.

Some departments did have employees track time electronically, but this was not linked to our central system. Additionally, comp time was tracked by each department and not linked centrally. Any large university has issues with lots of individual budgets and different decision-making processes. Before getting an automated solution, we had compliance at a high level, but we wanted to get more visibility and consistency throughout the university.

Our Food Services department needed to replace its aging time and attendance system in 2005. The department had been using a punch clock system for their 1,000 employees. We then moved to biometric time clocks, which eliminated the risk of “buddy punching.” We also gained more insight into the timecard-level audit trail— where students were punching in, when the supervisor was approving timecards, the IP address of the computer the supervisor was using when approving time, and more.

About two years later, our university leadership decided it was time to retire our in-house electronic voucher system. We needed to do something at the institution level for time and attendance reporting; Kronos was then rolled out of Food Services and expanded across the campus. We had been concerned about accountability and labor costs at the Food Services level, whereas at the university level, we were primarily concerned with compliance and transparency. We selected Kronos because of the options available.

Departments could choose a biometric time clock or web-based attendance tracking system. While these options were great, universities moving to an automated system should be aware that providing choice to different departments often delays the implementation process. Multi-job employees can also pose a challenge. University students often work multiple part-time jobs in different departments. Different departments have different budgets, and accordingly, different approval processes.

Success has been measured by the fact that now all of the university’s hourly employees use the Kronos system for time and attendance tracking. We have improved accountability and compliance; previously, we did not have a central system for tracking comp time. Now our HR team can pull reports for all employees instead of individually emailing departments for their employees’ comp time.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please go to