Understanding Absence Management

Like it or not, absence management is a thing every team needs. The bigger the team, the greater the possibility of absences – but the lesser the impact. The smaller the team, the lesser the possibility…but the magnitude of the risk it might put on your daily operations skyrockets. And let’s not even mention what a devil employee absences can be when you’re crawling towards the end of an important project.

That said, the way many businesses tackle employee absence management is horrible. Either being too strict (rarely too soft) or not facilitating a proper absence management environment, enterprises risk their overall well-being. Managing a team is a science and an art in itself, and setting up the whole absences policy thing is not just getting a sharpie and drawing square with dates on a whiteboard.

Types of absences for dummies

Let’s first elaborate on a simple fact: there are various types of absences.

You might have an employee who is sick in the short-term – an absence that will last from 2 days to a week. While surely problematic at some times, this is an ordinary event for any business and doesn’t involve high risks. (Well, except when you’re 3 days away from finishing up with your financial quarter.) Easily solved by keeping a flexible schedule for your employees or letting your team members work from home.

Then, there is the repeated short-term sickness that might arise if a condition fluctuates and your employee thought they were okay, but they aren’t. A bit more specific to tackle, but still alright in terms of resolving the issue.

Absence management in the office.

Without any doubt, the most risky scenario are the long-term absences, spreading all the way from a week’s absence to a month or even two. Serious declines in a team member’s well-being, maternity or paternity leaves, other reasons for a long-term absence to occur…Long-term pauses require careful absence management that has to be ingrained in your company’s policies before even occuring.

Now that we’ve got the basics, let’s move over to a few practices you can utilize to step up your absence management game.

Tackling absence management the proper way

There are many ways you can employ to facilitate proper absence management. You might follow a softer route, or go with the carrot and the stick method. Both have their positive and negative sides, but perhaps the best take on absence management is the middle ground. Keep in mind that it also depends on your team and their characteristics.

Lay down the attendance groundwork

It all begins from here. Your absence management will be based on the rules you have introduced to your employees. As soon as the job hire interview rolls, you should clearly set how your business sees attendances and absences. What is acceptable and what is punishable? What mechanisms have you thought out to conduct proper absence management? How is your company’s work schedule organized?

Your team members should know all the attendance-related basics from the get go. In case your business is larger in scale, you should also point out to whom should your employees communicate their absence. Supervisors, team leaders, HRs…Start with the basics so you can build an intelligent absence management mechanism upon that.

Incentivize, incentivize, incentivize

People are lazy. If we’re given the chance, there’s a high possibility we’ll just lay around and procrastinate endlessly. Your employees also have that hint of laziness in them. That’s why “fake” absences are a pretty common occurrence. A phone call the night before or worse – in the morning, and a sudden “illness” that bars your team members from coming to the office.

However, fake illnesses have a nemesis, and this is the method of introducing an incentive for employees being present. In case your team’s attendance rate is low, maybe it’s time to think of something that will motivate them to be more attentive.

Sure, the first idea that will come to your mind is a pay bonus or something in that financial vein. However, incentives may vary. For example, you might employ a policy that allows for some free days in case a team member hasn’t been absent from the office for a specific period. The actual timeframe and amount of free days as a reward are both up to you. While technically this absence management approach bears a financial meaning to your business (free day = less overall output), it’s a precious gesture from an employee’s viewpoint.

There are various incentives you can think of. We’d advise on making them more like a gesture and less like a direct financial transaction. This will help out your team’s motivation and overall communication in the company.

Absence management

Why not go with the carrot, instead of the stick? Image: Alan O’Rourke, flickr.

Accept flexible schedules as your friend

We’ve talked about the flexible schedule movement with a reason. Companies that are more innovative and flexible towards their workforce’s shifts also execute better absence management. Remember that your employees are not your enemies. They are humans and many events beyond their control can cause an absence.

Luckily, more and more companies are starting to realize this, offering custom-designed schedule for their teams. If you think about it, communicating a well-thought, diversified schedule will help your team maintain a proper work-life balance. This will reduce stress levels and boost well-being, which are two very crucial things if you want to minimize short-term absences due to illness.

You can easily overview the schedule your employees have created or leave the absence management details to your supervisors. In the past, the process was a rather dull and time-consuming one, but now there are various pieces of software to help you out.

What we take pride in Cronforce as a company is our laidback approach to absence management. We know that absence management can be a tough nut to crack even to established businesses (new ones have it even harder). Our Vacations & absences module tackles facilitating a proper absence management policy. It provides businesses of any scale with features ranging from dashboards to self-service workflows and real time user actions and absence support tools.

Are you experiencing difficulties in making your team more attentive? Why not try out what Cronforce can do to improve your day-to-day operations. Get your free trial with no strings attached. We promise you it will change the efficiency of your absence management.

The Cronforce.com Team

Your 5 minute Guide to track Vacations and Absences

Good news – it will actually take less than a minute. The reason being that when you register for a free trial Cronforce comes preconfigured with several timeoff projects.

In order to try it out you just have to go to Timeoffs > Submit Timeoff and press the Book button. You are then given several options with the most notable being Vacations and Absences. Select what you want to book and you will be presented with a simple popup window that asks you to select what type of vacation or absence you want to book. We allow you to pick your project because you can have one vacation project per year and also several type of absences like medical, legal, family and others.

We noticed that people ask us quite similar things so we have compiled a list of common questions and answers.

Why am I presented with less timeoff days available that actually configured in the system?

Because we booked some timeoffs in order to exemplify how Cronforce works, you may notice that the timeoff counter shows less days available than the days configured in Settings > Time. You can delete these demo entries at any time.

What if I want to create my own timeoff project?

You just have to go to Timeoffs > Timeoffs List and press on create. Once presented with the timeoff project creation screen do mark the project as timeoff project. Then you have to select the timeoffs types. These are created in Settings > Time and could be your Vacations2015 and Vacations2016 types or the absences type you want to have assigned in a timeoff project. These are the timeoff types you can choose from when booking timeoffs.

What if employees should have different vacation days?

Well, just go to their profile in Settings > Users and set the vacation days they are allowed to book. It is this easy.

Is there a way for a supervisor to approve vacations and absences?

Of course, just select a timeoff project and on the project overview click Team Supervisors Management (at the bottom of the page). Then pick the supervisor for an employee and this is all. When an employee that has a supervisor submits a timeoff the supervisor will be notified and should take action. You can also switch off timeoff approvals by enabling automatic approvals. For this you need to go to Settings > Time and select if you want to allow automatic approvals. If enabled timeoffs automatically get marked as approved.

And please do not forget – you are always welcome to contact us at support@cronforce.com if you need any help.

The Cronforce.com Team

Video Tutorial: How to use Timeoffs module

This time we deep dive into how to use the Cronforce Timeoffs module. Enjoy!

Hope this helps and keep in mind we are available 24/7 to help you with any requests you might have – feel free to contact us!

About Cronforce

Cronforce is a leading provider of cloud-based Business Execution Software, and delivers time tracking, vacations management, budget controlling and workforce planning solutions for organizations of all sizes. A one of a kind fusion of focus formula dashboards and business tools it provides you and your clients with real-time overview and reports on business and project developments. Cronforce facilitates day-to-day business and enables managers to make data-driven decisions and increase efficiency. With Cronforce you can access your data easily, anywhere and any time!

The Cronforce.com Team

Vacation Scheduling: The Small Business Way

Vacation scheduling can be a murky concept for many small business owners. On one hand, every sane person needs a week (or two) to blow some steam off and clear their head a little. On the other, though, small businesses tend to mutate into their founders’ second shadow. They’re always in the back of your head and escaping them can prove to be close to impossible.

However, you should do just that. Having a break is absolutely crucial if you don’t want to burn out and potentially tilt. As you know, tilting equals poor decision-making – and poor decision-making equals problems with your venture. So with that in the clear, let’s see how you can setup vacation scheduling and arrange your enjoyable vacation – the small business way.

The Difficulty of Just Packing Up & Letting Go

Small businesses and even a great deal of medium-sized companies have a distinctive feature: every single person working there counts. And they count a lot – especially if we’re speaking about a founder or a co-founder. So vacation scheduling and conceding control is a much more difficult task in comparison with the good old enormous enterprises. Frankly, it’s pure hell and you’ll find yourself very reluctant to do so.

Statistics seem to support this sentiment, as Rasmussen Reports’ survey elaborates that over 40% of small business entrepreneurs keep in touch with their employees on a semi-regular basis during their absence. 29% take it even further, calling every single day. Another small business survey – this one done by OnDeck, reported that 67% of the owners planned to check in with what their business is doing.

Yeah, the bottom line is that there’s a high chance you’ll do the same. Which leads to the possibility of not taking a vacation at all (even though you’re actually on one). Or burning out. Feeling frustrated. Pissed off.

We’ve been there. We’ve done that. We drew our conclusions and we don’t want you to go through this vicious vacation cycle. Let’s get to some tips that will help you a bit with your vacation scheduling troubles.

The 4 Rules for a Small Business Owner on a Vacation

Don’t Underestimate Your Team

If you have a team (which is expected even for bootstrapped ventures such as ultra small businesses and startups), you know these people pretty well. After all, you’ve been working together for a while, right? There’s a certain amount of trust and respect among you. Vacation scheduling is not a new concept to you or them.

Chances are, if these people are a part of your company, they have their distinctive reponsibilities and they stick to them. They can handle your absence, especially if you prepare a short overview of what needs to be done before departing.

With that said…

Pick the Right Person

A team is a team, but there are always people who shine out a bit. They’re either more punctual, or take responsibility to an even deeper level than the other already reliable employees you have. As you are familiar with your team, you can easily pinpoint this vacation messiah. Identify them and delegate the role of a leader to further reduce any risks of things spiralling out of control.

Then, done your vacation scheduling, take a deep breath and start your journey. But…

Remember to Actually Take a Rest

It’s easy to schedule your vacation and sprawl your tan-ready body on the beach, or wander around in the mountains, or whatever floats your boat. What’s hard is sticking to the concept that you’re having your time off and actually enjoy your break from all things business related.

Can you guess what will be our main tip here?

Yeah, it’s the mobile device curse. Tablets and smartphones are a huge part of our everyday life, and small business owners are among the people most prone to overuse them while on vacation.

Please, for the love of vacations and those rare glimpses of careless entrepreneurial moments, limit your usage of tech. And when you do so…

Use Smart Tools & Apps to Save Time

We got it – you’re restless about keeping in touch with your team. However, you’ve at least done the “limit my exposure to the web” part right.

Here’s a hint: next thing you need to do to enjoy a vacation is optimize your (scarce) online time. Doing more in less time will let you return back to your peaceful break with a calm mind and the fluffy feeling that your business is safe.

How do you do that?

Well, with the help of cool cloud-based collaboration tools! Apps like Trello, Basecamp or Asana exist for a reason: to make things easier for you, especially there if you’re on a vacation and want to commit only a few minutes of your time to business affairs.

By the way, we’re actually pretty keen on project management and collaboration apps like these. That’s why we’re integrating a bunch of them in Cronforce, with Basecamp, Trello and Asana leading the way.

Helping You Cope With Vacation Scheduling

As we said, our team has also had some difficulties with taking some time off (and getting that tasty peace of mind) before. Then we thought about it very, very carefully, and started observing the state of many small businesses and medium-size companies. How they did their vacation scheduling, how they approached employee vacations, did they use some kind of a vacation scheduling software.

What we saw was a total chaos when it came to properly managing employee absences and vacation scheduling. As time offs are crucial to the success of any business (and to morale plus productivity), we made it a rule to implement a smart vacation & abscence management feature in Cronforce. You can try it out with a free trial.

As we already mentioned, we’ve been there. But that doesn’t mean you have to. Get the vacation you deserve and return with a fresh perspective, ready to take on whatever challenges the small business world throws your way.

The Cronforce.com Team

The 10 deadly sins of project business

the 10 deadly sins of project managementThroughout the years we have had tons of interactions with clients. Under the motto “Even the best fall down sometimes” I believe we have made all mistakes possible which is of course the motivation behind building Cronforce. So here is our top 10 list, enjoy!

  • Not submitting and approving timesheet on time annoys project managers, accountants and not surprisingly the top management.
  • Writing non descriptive or misleading comments in your timesheet seriously upsets your company accountant when a client refuses to pay using the comments as justification.
  • Booking time on the wrong project – definitely pisses off at least one of your clients and tends to explode in few months time when nobody expects.
  • Taking vacations without considering the vacations of the team – often leads to team members with overlapping competencies gone at the same time in the most critical phase of a project.
  • Failing to consider vacations in your resource planning – undoubtedly leads to missed deadlines and unhappy clients.
  • Not accounting for vital resources for the completion of your project – can actually endanger your project as whole
  • Running over-budget – this probably upsets clients the most.
  • Running under-budget – at first looks like a sweet deal for the client but actually any planned but unused budget leads to a reduction of their funds in the following year.
  • Plugging too low or too high rate for your employees – you may well end up working at loss, for free or for the last time with this client.
  • Billing one resource with different roles and rates to the same client – oh, that can easily spoil your complete client relationship as it is offer seen as a way to overcharge for services.

If we missed some feel free to tell your story in our comments!

The Cronforce.com Team