12 Strategies to Prevent Buddy Punching in 2022

12 Strategies to Prevent Buddy Punching in 2022

November 29, 2021

It is always good to see coworkers taking care of each other. However, their collaboration, if applied in a particular manner, can actively harm the company. Once coworker collaboration turns into spreading negative business practices, it’s time to take some corrective actions.

What counts as buddy punching?

Firstly, let’s look at the consequences of buddy punching. This practice has cost US companies 373 million dollars in 2017 alone. It also tends to lower productivity and make other negative business practices more common.

Now for the definition: buddy punching is one of the oldest time theft methods. It is comprised of a coworker clocking in on the behalf of their coworker who hasn’t arrived yet. The other version is clocking out for a colleague who left work earlier. It is very simple and, thus, widespread.

Current buddy punching tactics

The term ‘’buddy punching’’ comes from the time when punch cards were used to signify presence at work. Nowadays, there are other ways to clock in, such as

  • Signing in
  • Entering a password

Which are also easy to falsify.

Buddy-punching is more prominent in larger companies or departments. It can also get more extreme, with employees pretending to work overtime or even taking entire days off thanks to buddy punching.

However, the specific buddy punching methods don’t have to be this extreme to make an impact. A simple theft of five to 10 minutes at the beginning and end of the day, accumulated over a month still adds up to quite a sum if converted into billable hours.

How to know your employees are committing time theft?

Determining whether buddy punching is a common occurrence in your company is the first step to preventing it. Here are some warning signs you should keep your eye on.

1. The Completed Work Doesn’t Match the Logged Time.

This is the most certain way to know time theft is occurring. Simply put – it seems like most employees are there, but your team isn’t achieving its goals. You need to be aware that there are other reasons for this as well, like an increased workload or a complex project.

2. Tardiness and Absenteeism Don’t Exist

Let’s be honest, people who are never late for work are extremely rare. So, a system that tells you everyone always comes in on time and there are few (if not none) people calling in sick or with an emergency situation isn’t a good sign. It is normal to come in late sometimes and to have to take some time away from work for family or health matters. This doesn’t mean you should let everyone clock in and out as they please. Yet, if a list looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t real. Especially so if it is accompanied by the previous point.

3. Time Entries Are Becoming a Little Too Convenient

What we mean by convenience in this case is:

  • Coworkers signing in and out at the same time
  • Similar handwritings in logs
  • Perfect timing on everyone’s part

Of course, these signals don’t have to mean buddy punching is occurring. For example, some employees could be carpooling together. This would make them come and leave at the same time. Yet, if things start looking a little too well, but the results don’t show it, you should conduct an investigation.

Here are our tried and true tricks to prevent buddy punching

1. Find the Reasons for Buddy Punching

Most people don’t want to commit time theft in a company they like, even though there will always be some exceptions. However, if they aren’t happy about their working conditions, resentment and apathy can take over.

Of course, the management has the task of working in the company’s interest. Yet, this doesn’t mean you should cross boundaries. For example, no one likes being micromanaged, and if you try to control what your employees are doing at all times, there will be some resentment, which can lead to being willing to commit time theft.

Additionally, not being fair to your employees (low or irregular salaries) and the lack of benefits like paid time off are also bound to create a negative opinion about your organization.

Solving these problems can lead to a decrease the buddy punching and time theft problems. However, there also may be some dishonest employees who create the problem even when they are being treated fairly. In that case, it’s time to take some more serious action.

2. Create an Anti-Buddy Punching Policy

Even though buddy punching isn’t a crime, you can discourage it by starting new policies. This is a good way to start the conversation about buddy punching. It will clearly signal that the management has noticed this negative business practice, and won’t stand for it.

A zero-tolerance policy is a great first step. The second part is making it widely known to all your employees. You can either send a memo or add a paragraph against this type of fraud to their contracts. Having your attitude toward time theft in writing will also save you time and energy when it comes to onboarding new team members.

3. Install a System that Requires Passwords

This is a simple way to get in the way of buddy-punching. You can make the passwords personal enough for the employees not to want to share them. Some companies, for example, ask for the password to include an employee’s social security number or a part of it. On the other hand, you can use a less serious and intrusive method and make the criteria for a password complicated. Make the passwords contain capital letters, numbers, and special characters, so that they are more difficult to remember.

It is also a good idea to make the clock in passwords match the work computer passwords. Again, employees will be more hesitant to share this information with their coworkers, as they will be exposing business and private information to them.

4. Upgrade Your Systems

The pen-and-paper method for clocking in is becoming obsolete. There are many possibilities to log your time at work. Here are some of them:

  • Digital timecards
  • Time tracking software
  • Geofencing
  • GPS location
  • Biometric identification
  • Security cameras

Relying on old-fashioned methods isn’t going to cut it for much longer. There are good reasons to modernize, especially if your competition is already doing it before you. In other words, you should get a modern solution for an old and persistent problem. The way you do it depends on the scope of the buddy punching problem in your company and the money you can invest into the solution.

5. Digital Timecards

The old clock-in systems relied on paper timecards you could move from one slot to another, or punch holes into. However, as technology progressed, there are many more options now. For example, you can obtain a system where a person can’t come to your offices unless they check in with their digital timecard. This way they will have to be truthful about their check-in and out times. Many companies also use timecards to allow their employees to access different parts of the company’s offices.

6. Time Tracking Software

There are many time management software solutions available that enable users to track their time from their computers or mobile devices. There are many ways to track time, from using Excel templates or automated timesheet software, over automatic timers to more intrusive solutions, like tracking mouse and keyboard activity, taking screenshots of user computer screens, and monitoring the app and website use. The way these systems prevent buddy punching is by providing the time when an action occurred.

7. Geofencing

This model of buddy punching prevention is great for companies with remote workforces or field teams. Geofencing represents a virtual boundary that is formed by GPS, cellular data, and WiFi.  In other words, users will only be able to clock in from a defined space. Some field service management software solutions automatically clock the employees in as they enter their virtual barriers and clock them out once they leave.

Even though this method is created mostly to manage remote and field teams, you can use it even if you conduct your work from an office, your parking lot or office doors can be the limits of the perimeter. Geofencing solutions are connected to users’ mobile devices through apps, which means that they cannot clock in unless they’re actually within the perimeter. This prevents buddy punching very well since most people aren’t willing to give their phones to their coworkers.

8. GPS Location

This is another tracking method that prevents buddy punching which relies on mobile phones. The difference between a geofencing and a GPS-based solution is that geofencing ties the employee to a single position, while GPS apps monitor the employees’ movement wherever they are. In other words, a GPS solution is a great way to monitor your field teams or employees who travel a lot. This way you will also prevent time theft based on too long breaks, resolving personal matters on company time, and absenteeism.

9. Biometric Identification

This is one of the most secure ways to prevent buddy punching. Biometric identification is comprised of facial identification, hand or fingerprints, as well as retina scans. Of course, this type of control is extremely intrusive, as well as expensive. However, it is also extremely secure. Thus, it is a good solution for companies or even just departments with high-security priorities.

You should know that biometric ID-based solutions usually come with a level of employee security concerns. For example, some states have passed laws that protect employee biometric information. The reception and implementation of these systems are bound to be difficult, especially if you decide to add them to your daily practice suddenly and without warning.

10. Security Cameras

This is another highly controversial, albeit less intense, way to track employee attendance. Installing cameras that track the time your employees show up for work is a sure way to prevent buddy punching, as you will be able to identify the perpetrators when reviewing the footage.

Again, deciding to use this system is not going to be popular among your staff. Simply put – people do not like to be monitored so closely. Even though you are doing it to reduce time theft and reduce company losses, installing cameras also signals an extremely low trust level on the company’s part. This is bound to create resentment and lower overall morale. It can also increase employee turnover, which will create new costs.

11. IP Address Locking

This is a solution meant for employees whose positions demand a lot of interaction with computers. Some solutions enable you to connect timers to the IP address of their device. These solutions usually work through multiple steps. Firstly, the user needs to log in to their computer. Then they will log into an online system that will start their timer. In other words, an employee’s time would start counting from the moment they start using their device, which lowers the chances of buddy punching

12. Accountability Culture

No matter which buddy punching preventing system you decide to use, its successful implementation will not be your final step. You will have to make sure the systems are used properly. And trust us, the people who want to commit time theft will try to fool even the most sophisticated and accurate systems. That is why you will need to additionally raise overall accountability. You can do this by assigning employees to verify the arrival and leaving times.

As managers and team leaders usually have a lot on their plates, you should assign this responsibility to someone with a smaller workload. Also, don’t forget to compensate them for their efforts.

What to Do When You Discover Buddy Punching in Your Company?

It is up to you to define the penalties you will uphold once buddy punchers are uncovered. We suggest going gradually. It is also helpful to address the problem before implementing the solution. For example, you can schedule a meeting with all your employees (or meetings with managers or team leaders if you are running a larger operation).

Address the fact that buddy punching is still happening in your company to make the employees aware that their behavior has been noticed. Then, if the time theft continues, have one-on-one meetings or issue warning notices. You can try to find out why buddy punching occurs, and work on it from your side if the reasons are valid. Unfortunately, you will need to hear some criticism if you are aiming to improve.

There may be some employees who have to be somewhere else before work – single parents dropping off their children for school, people who need medication at a certain time, etc. If you are willing to allow them to come in later or leave earlier, you will definitely win some points with the whole collective.

What to Do When the Employee Won’t Cooperate?

However, as we have previously mentioned, there are simply some people who don’t want to invest the effort into their work. If that is the case, and the employees in question aren’t showing signs of improvement, it is probably time to take some more serious measures. These can be

  • One-time pay reduction
  • Demotion
  • Firing the employee

You know these practices aren’t going to be popular. However, if you have made the policies public and gone through the software implementation, not taking action makes all that effort an unnecessary loss of energy and resources. Finally, your employees will be encouraged to continue breaking company policies further on.

 

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Keeping Track – How to Boost Employee Efficiency With Time Management Apps

Keeping Track – How to Boost Employee Efficiency With Time Management Apps

November 25, 2021

Regardless of which industry you are in, we are always looking for ways to get more out of our day. The modern age requires workplaces and employees to be flexible and consistent, and a world full of electronic distractions is not conducive to productivity.

Luckily, there are ways to take advantage of the digital age by harnessing new apps and systems. Time management apps provide easy ways for management to stay on top of delegating tasks, ensure employees maximize their work hours, and build an efficient workplace that streamlines tasks while getting results.

Time management apps are a great way for employees and their supervisors to efficiently manage tasks while having a clear overview of what news to be done and the deadlines they need to meet. Let’s take a look at how these apps can make a difference for your team.

How Time Management Apps Work

Time management apps allow users and their employers to determine exactly how much time is being spent on each type of task, users can also set specific deadlines for a task and have a countdown like view of a project’s progress, and the deadline closes in.

These apps are beneficial for group projects as each team member has insight into what other team members are working on and how each aspect of the project progresses. This insight plays a vital role in helping supervisors step in or provide assistance should it appear that a task is taking longer than it should.

Data analytics from time management apps can also be used to determine time allotment for future projects based on historical data reflecting how long it took for similar tasks to be completed.

Benefits of Time Management Apps

While most time management apps come at a cost, this expense is heavily outweighed by the positive impact. Time management apps come with a host of benefits to both employers and their employees that make implementing an app a crucial part of running a successful team:

Easily Meet Deadlines

Time management software allows all assigned team members to have a constant view of the required tasks and the deadline. Most of these apps allow for real-time updates to be added. Any challenges or perceived obstacles can be identified for a timely adjustment to a deadline or to create contingencies.

Having a clear vision of the goal is cited as one of the most critical aspects of successful teamwork and office management; time management apps make this possible for even remote teams.

Identify Possible Problem Areas

Time management apps allow insight into how effective or efficient you or your team are at completing each task or project; these insights can be valuable in identifying possible areas for improvement.

The ability to have an overview of remaining tasks and the expected timeline for completion also allows you to identify tasks that you or your team are falling behind on, which gives you the time to shift focus and ensure you never fall too far behind the ball.

Effective Teamwork

Some time management apps provide a perfect platform for teams to work on projects together, a shared space that allows each team member to constantly update where they are at with each task and view where other team members are. This allows for better interaction and makes reaching out for assistance or assisting someone much easier.

Teams can view all tasks and ensure that everyone is on track, or if any part of a project is lagging, the rest of the team can address it accordingly.

Baseline for Future Projects or Tasks

An often underestimated benefit of time management apps is the amount of information one can get from completed tasks or projects.

Knowing how much time it took to complete a previous task can be valuable when setting deadlines on future jobs. A task can now be assigned a similar time allocation based on experience.

Providing clients with an estimate for both completion time and billing becomes a breeze as app history can give you a better idea of how long similar projects took to complete and how much workforce should be assigned to a task.

Performance Assessment

Time-management apps can inspire you to know your areas to improve and do the same for your workforce. Most of these apps have analytics that allows you to assess productivity at individual accurately and team levels. Harnessing this data when it comes to appraising employee performance, rewarding employees, and providing coaching are critical and can lead to a morale boost and overall increase in performance among staff.

Having conclusive and comprehensive data of each employee’s efficiency and ability to meet targets and deadlines is vital to ensuring you have a functional and robust team in which everyone carries their weight.

Reduced Stress

One of the significant causes of work-related anxiety or stress for employees is working with looming deadlines or prioritizing tasks properly. Time management apps allow for seamless and neat organization of tasks and ensure sufficient time is allotted.

This clear overview also ensures team members and their leadership can quickly identify possible delays and proactively assist each other in finding a solution. These all play a massive role in reducing work-related stress as employees feel they have a better grasp on their tasks, and managers can step in to help at any time.

Conclusion

Time-management apps can provide a valuable service to employers and their team members by providing clear timelines, task lists, and checklists for completion. Therefore, a key skill in business development is accurate time management.

The impact of time management apps on a team cannot be overstated, and many successful companies have benefited from the implementation of these apps.

Finding the right time management app can be a challenge as the demand for these platforms is increasing due to the demanding nature of modern business. Whether your team works remotely or within an office, time management apps are the best way to monitor efficiency and ensure complete visibility into employee performance and task management.

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16 Proven Techniques to Reduce Employee Time Theft

16 Proven Techniques to Reduce Employee Time Theft

November 23, 2021

Stealing time sounds like an unlikely concept. However, it is a common occurrence in most workplaces. Moreover, it costs many employers dearly. So, let’s observe this phenomenon and learn how to prevent it.

What Is Time Theft?

Contrary to the science fiction name, time theft is a collection of common behaviors. They may seem harmless (especially to the perpetrators), but once they become common among your staff and keep repeating, the company can suffer quite serious consequences.

Here are the most common examples of time theft:

  • Fudging with numbers
  • Buddy punching
  • Unnecessarily long socialization
  • Internet distractions
  • Non-approved breaks
  • Using work hours for personal matters
  • Unauthorized overtime
  • Late starts and earlier finishes

To put it simply – time theft represents the activities employees partake in during working hours that aren’t contributing to company goals. As a result, the employers end up paying for a lot more hours than the employees have worked, which brings the profit margins down.

Fudging with numbers

This is the most common type of stealing time at work. Simply put, it means being dishonest about the amount of time you’ve spent working. This can be as easy as clocking in earlier and clocking out later than you’ve arrived or left your workplace. The discrepancies can be minor, i.e. five to 10 minutes. However, the practice can become widespread, and those few minutes add up as time goes. This method of time theft is possible both with written and electronic timesheet-based solutions.

Buddy punching

This is the practice of having a coworker clock in for you if you don’t get to work in time. This method is prevalent in manual time tracking.

Unnecessarily long socialization

Even though employers usually want to create a positive atmosphere within their companies, they aren’t going to allow it to get in the way of their profit. This time theft method means spending too much time chatting with coworkers instead of working.

Internet distractions

Internet distractions have been one of the most detrimental ways of stealing time since the internet became widely available. Employees will scroll through their social media accounts or other work-unrelated sites and lose track of time. The widespread availability of mobile devices made this practice more common. Implementing a productivity tool into the workflow can be of great help, but doesn’t prevent time theft completely.

Non-approved breaks

This type of time stealing occurs in companies that have a mandated amount of rest time. To put it plainly, it means taking either too long or multiple breaks and not logging them.

Using work hours for personal matters

Work takes up a third of a person’s day. Some interaction between personal and professional lives is bound to happen. This is understandable, especially in urgent situations. However, some employees will use more work time to get through their personal matters than actually work.

16 Ways to Prevent Time Theft

As you can imagine, preventing time theft completely is not possible. To put it simply, some inaccuracies are always going to happen, no matter what you do. So, your goal should be to decrease distractions and make sure time theft is happening as rarely as possible. Here are the best techniques to do so.

1. Let Your Employees Know Your Expectations

Communication is one of the most important ways to create awareness about time theft. The truth is, your employees most probably don’t see their actions as severe. They also usually don’t realize just how much time they spend away from their tasks.

The first step is to make rules and policies crystal clear. Create a list of the most common time theft methods in your organization and let your employees know these behaviors are unacceptable.

Firstly you should hold a meeting, or let team leaders do so, depending on the size of your organization. Then you can use the policies presented in those meetings to create a document or a presentation that will be a part of your onboarding process, so your future employees understand what will and won’t be tolerated.

2. Work on Communication

Being told you aren’t doing enough is never pleasant. It can create a negative atmosphere in your offices and lower employee morale. It is up to you to reduce the damage. Your employees shouldn’t be scared into compliance.

Communicate that you aren’t creating your new policies to punish your employees. Explain the ways time theft is damaging your company and the teams themselves. This way you will start raising the morale, as the employees will feel like an important part of the team.

3. Present the Benefits

The additional profit you’ll make by reducing time theft is the other side of the medal of our previous point. As the employees are the main reason for increased productivity, they should also reap some of the benefits.

Announce the benefits your team will get once they reduce time theft. These benefits will depend on the size of your company and the amount of money increased productivity brings.

4. Follow Through on Your Policies

Simply creating a list of rules and talking about it isn’t enough to change employee behavior. It will let the employees know their time theft has been noticed. However, once they see that you are noting their time theft and following through on your policies immediately, they will change their behavior as well.

Unfortunately, this also means you will have to make an example of someone. On the other hand, it will show that you are serious about preventing time theft.

Don’t forget to follow through with the policies that benefit your staff as well, as it will show that you keep your word.

5. Track Employee Time the Best Way Possible

As we have previously stated, it is easy to manipulate numbers if you track time manually. The Pen-and-paper method is most commonly abused. That is why you should look into a time tracking system.

You should look for the most effective solutions for your company and the best time tracking practices. There are many different types of automated time tracking, and many platforms that offer different options and features. That means you’ll have to do your due diligence and do some research before choosing the time tracking platform that suits your needs the best.

6. Increase Transparency When Possible

Time theft is clearly unfair to the company, as employers pay employees for the hours they haven’t worked. However, it is also unfair to other team members. Simply put – if one team member is slacking, their responsibilities will fall onto their colleagues.

Adding an element of transparency will show who are your top performers, but also level out the playing field, time thieves will have to step up and start contributing as much as the rest of their team.

7. Conduct Audits

You will need to conduct time audits regularly to figure out whether your time tracking system is working or not. Time audits are a useful time tracking practice that makes sure everyone is truthful about their time spent on different tasks.

Besides being useful for the employer, the employees can also benefit from regular time audits. Namely, they will be able to recognize their work rhythms and increase productivity while not overworking themselves.

8. Don’t Attack Immediately

We cannot recommend being aggressive when time theft occurs. Knowing you are paying your employees while they’re slacking off is frustrating. Yet, yelling and confronting them in front of their coworkers isn’t a good practice. Your aggression is not going to help your situation.

Instead, you should take the time for one-on-one meetings with the main problem causers and talk to them calmly about their performance. Then, if their behavior doesn’t change, you can reprimand them publically or take more serious actions.

9. Remove Paperwork from the Equation

An attendance and time tracking system that relies on employees manually writing their start and finish times and logging their tasks is becoming a remnant of the past. Namely, this method allows the biggest opportunity for time theft. Additionally, it can take quite some time to fill the documents properly, which can disrupt your employees’ workflow.

That is why many companies are turning to automatized time tracking, such as online timesheets and automatic time tracking and monitoring. Timesheets become a lot easier and quicker to fill if your timesheet software has a module that allows you to create custom logs that contain all the information you need.

Additionally, timesheets still allow some freedom for the employees. Even though time theft is a problem, you cannot expect everyone in your company to be at their most productive for 8 hours. A timesheet-based solution will allow you a realistic insight into the time your team needs to finish a task.

10. Consider Automatic Tracking

Automatic time tracking comes in many forms. The most common ones are

  • Automatic timers
  • Monitoring user computer activity
  • Taking screenshots of user computers

As you can see, the order of these points is based on the severity of monitoring and the level of privacy you’re going to invade. This is another reason to be tactical and pay attention to the way you introduce the practice to your team.

The precision is the biggest advantage of automatic time tracking, as you will be able to account for every minute. On the other hand, the morale of your team is bound to drop, as automatic tracking implies a lack of trust.

11. Track visited web pages

If you still decide to use an automatic tracker, you may be able to choose between different options. Tracking the web pages your employees frequent during work hours is one of them. This method of activity monitoring is going to reduce the time your employees spend on social media and other sites that aren’t related to their tasks.

Some tracking solutions also give you the option to prevent users from visiting certain web pages depending on their position to maximize their efficiency. You need to remember that this practice has a downside. Namely, most employees have cellphones and use mobile data to access these sites.

12. Monitor Computer Usage

There are two main methods of monitoring computer usage:

  • Monitoring keystrokes and mouse activity
  • Logging the applications and document names employees interact with

While very efficient, both methods rely on intrusive practices. In other words, there will be some resentment once you implement them, and the results can vary.

13. Take Screenshots

Finally, the most intrusive of the time theft prevention techniques. Taking screenshots is believed to be the most certain way to ensure your employees aren’t committing time theft. You can set the system to take screenshots at regular intervals or randomly during the day. This way you will have an accurate representation of your employees’ workdays.

The downside of these methods is that they are completely automated, and slackers will always find a way to trick the system. Whether it’s simply putting a heavy object on their keyboard or randomly changing up their desktops, cheating is possible.

You need to pay attention to your country’s laws as well. Taking screenshots goes against the GDPR in some countries, so we recommend covering all your bases.

Finally, auditing can be extremely tedious when it comes to automatic time tracking methods. This is true because you will receive a lot of unnecessary information you will have to go through.

14. Connect Attendance and Hours with Employee Payroll

Making your employees care about the time they put into their projects is extremely important. There is no better way to do so than directly correlating their payroll to the real spent hours. Seeing their wages go up together with their task engagement is a great incentive to increase productivity.

Time tracking software often offers the option of integrating with different payroll solutions or exporting the timesheets into Excel sheets. Some countries also mandate issuing timesheets along with the payroll as proof of completed work.

15. Lead by Example

The transparency in your company should start from the higher-ups. Share your own experience with preventing time theft and managing your time more efficiently. Present the ways you’ve changed your behavior and the positive impact it’s had on you.

This is also a good way to decide whether the technique you’ve chosen is efficient enough. On the other hand, you’ll also know if you’ve taken it too far and need to be a little more lenient.

This tip would be most useful if you can use the system for a few weeks before introducing it to the rest of your team.

16. Make the Changes if Necessary

The consequences of time theft should be proportional to the stolen time. You should apply the same principle to award good behavior and positive changes. You should also stay consistent and just with following through with the rules you’ve made. This may mean correcting the behavior of some managers as well, and you should be prepared for that situation as well.

However, if the system ends up being ineffective (i.e. causing a greater employee turnover), you should reconsider your strategy. The point of preventing time theft is improving your performance as a company, not creating new costs.

To conclude

Time tracking is one of the most efficient ways to prevent time theft. However, you will have to be very careful throughout the process. This means paying attention to the way you’re going to track time, as well as the implementation process and the follow-up.

You need to understand these are all steps that are going to take a toll on your team’s dynamic and performance. They are going to create permanent changes, which is why you’ll need to prepare well and think your plan through upfront.

 

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The Top 19 Time Blocking Apps in 2022

The Top 19 Time Blocking Apps in 2022

November 15, 2021

Time blocking by any other name (singletasking, deep work, time boxing, etc.) would work just as splendidly. This time management tactic has risen in popularity as it allows employees both to focus and relax during their workdays.

Let’s learn the basics of this business practice and find the best time blocking apps that can help you do it easily.

What Is Time Blocking – the Basics

This time management technique is based on separating your workday into several intervals (also known as blocks – hence the name). Each block is dedicated to focusing on a single task and has a defined time limit.

The blocks depend on the volume and scope of tasks. You can either work on a single project during a prolonged period or do several smaller ones (i.e. answering emails) during a block.

The biggest part of time blocking is to be as focused as possible on the task at hand. You need to eliminate as many distracting factors as possible during a productive block. Hence, the term deep work is synonymous with the practice.

Reasons to Use the Time Blocking Method

First and foremost, time blocking allows you to plan some breaks into your schedule. Dividing your daily work into smaller chunks of time with some breaks in between them gives you the time necessary to recover and stay away from your computer.

The time between the tasks allows your brain to prepare for the following one. This prevents multitasking and jumping between tasks which makes you switch between different contexts all the time. In other words, your focus will be sharper and allow you to work more efficiently.

If you eliminate distractors while time blocking, you will be able to conserve your energy for your work. Then you can spend some time on social media or catching up with your coworkers as a treat. This way you’ll create a positive correlation between finishing your tasks and having fun.

Finally, you will be able to assess the realistic time needed to complete a task. This, in turn, will allow you to make better estimates in your following projects. Then, you’ll also be able to meet deadlines in time while not experiencing burnout.

Of course, these are only the basic benefits of using a time blocking app. Your use of the software depends on your personal work style and rhythm, preferences, and attention span.

Top 19 time blocking apps

1. Time Analytics – Calendar time blocking for teams

Time Analytics

Time Analytics is the up-and-coming time tracking application. It relies on simple timesheets users fill out at the end of their workdays. The platform allows them to log the time they’ve spent on different activities.

This way they can learn everything they need to know about their work rhythms. Then, they can allocate the time they need to complete a task and divide their workdays to suit their work rhythms.

Besides time blocking, Time Analytics allows time tracking by the employee, task, project, and client. The interface is intuitive and the timesheets take only a couple of minutes a day to fill, which means the daily workflow won’t change. However, the benefits of tracking through this software are palpable.

Features:

  • Intuitive and comprehensive timesheets
  • Tracking billable and non-billable hours
  • Tracking costs and allocating them to clients
  • User-friendly interface
  • Invoice assistant which prepares data for a transparent itemized bill

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Starter – $4.99 per user per month
  • Optimum – $6.99 per user per month
  • Premium – $12.99 per user per month

Trial period

14 days

2. Ticktick – Easy time blocking app

tick tick time blocking apps

TickTick relies on the famous Pomodoro timer which notifies users of the time they’ve spent on a task. It is only logical to combine it with time blocking if you have a shorter attention span or need to focus on a hefty task.

The interface isn’t complicated and shows the upcoming tasks divided into time blocks. The software also contains a feature for writing down different ideas and reminders you get and can revisit later.

Features:

  • A Pomodoro Technique-based timer
  • Numerous integrations through Zapier
  • A visualization of tasks through blocks or lists

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Premium – $27.99 per user per year

Trial period

No information

3. ClockWise

Clock Wise time blocking

Clockwise is a web-based calendar assistant that aims to enhance productivity and increase deep work. The app helps you schedule your workdays with an automatic time management feature.

It also synchronizes team calendars so there are no clashes and double-booking. This is especially important when you need to be available for a meeting.

Features:

  • Calendar optimization and automatic meeting management
  • Focus time and its goals
  • Personal and work calendars synchronization

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Pro – $10 per user per month
  • Business – custom plan

Trial period

Available

4. Clockify

clockify time blocking app

Even though it is primarily a time tracking app, Clockify is also a great choice when it comes to time blocking. It allows users to list their tasks and start timers whenever they start working on a new task. This gives them a good sense of accuracy, which is necessary for time blocking.

Features:

  • Task time tracking to make sure you’re within your time block
  • Logging each activity – meetings included
  • Team collaboration for better synchronization

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Basic – $4.99 per user per month
  • Standard – $6.99 per user per month
  • Pro – $9.99 per user per month
  • Enterprise – $14.99 per user per month

Trial period

Available

5. Friday

friday time blocking app

Friday is a time blocking planner application that enables you to schedule and distribute your activities throughout your workday. It makes planning around your meetings and obligations simple, as it automatically marks them. The platform offers a drag-and-drop system that sorts your daily tasks so you can block off time for each of them.

Features:

  • Drag and drop system for sorting tasks
  • Integrations with most popular task management software platforms
  • A Chrome extension that blocks distracting sites

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Individual – $4 per month per person
  • Team – $6 per month per user
  • Company – custom pricing

Trial period

14 days

6. Fantastical

fantastical time blocking app

Available on Apple devices, Fantastical is a simple time blocking app. The application allows users to schedule their tasks and activities as well as work travel arrangements and meetings. It is feature-rich and allows users to customize their experience to a great extent.

Features:

  • Time block and task list view options
  • Entries have time and location reminders
  • Many customization options when it comes to the interface and tracking options

Pricing:

Free (with limited features)

Premium – $4.99 per user per month

Family – $7.99 per 5 users per month

Trial period

14 days

7. Sling

sling time blocking app

Sling is a color-coordinated block schedule planner. Its primary users are meant to be the managers. Hence, the platform also includes other features, such as labor cost reports and a managing system. It also enables users to message each other or make posts in a newsfeed feature.

Features:

  • Attendance tracking including a timer
  • Color-coordinated shift and time block calendar
  • Communication features

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Premium – $2 per user per month
  • Business – $4 per user per month

Trial period

Available

8. Focus booster

Focus Booster time blocking

 

Focus booster is another time blocking planner that relies on the Pomodoro technique. Again, it allows users to work in blocks of 25 minutes with 5-minute breaks. This simple tool also includes other time management features, such as reports, a to-do list, an automatic timer, etc.

Features:

  • A Pomodoro timer
  • Client reports including time and labels
  • Minimalistic design

Pricing:

  • Starter – free (20 monthly Pomodoro sessions)
  • Professional – $4.99 per user per month

Trial period

30 days

9. Plan

Plan time blovking app

Plan is a time blocking app that also offers a calendar. There are single-user and team options for better synchronization. You can access the app through an agenda, list, or calendar view. This allows every team member to customize their experience to their preference. The system relies on a drag-and-drop feature for creating time blocks.

Features:

  • Multiple task options – recurring, high or low priority, etc.
  • Multiple views of the tasks
  • Communication features – comments and discussions

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Premium – $10 per user per month

Trial period

No information

10. Timeblock

TimeBlock time blocking app

Timebloc is a time blocking mobile app that relies on tags and color coordination for a clear distinction between different blocks. It has a drag-and-drop system as well, which is one of the most popular ways to manage time blocking. The platform uses the data it collects to create reports and statistics about your business.

Features:

  • Color and tag organization
  • Repetitive task management
  • Daily routine integration within the app

Pricing:

  • Premium – $19.99 per month

Trial period

7 days

11. Planyway – time block schedule

Planyway time blocking app

Planyway is a team time blocking planner with a calendar and timeline view. As it is meant for teams, it also contains a project tracker and resource planner. Additionally, you can use it solo as well. The platform’s interface allows easy visualization of short and long-term goals.

Features:

  • Color-coding your and your team’s tasks
  • Viewing both the near future and the upcoming deadlines
  • Integrations with different popular management software solutions

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Pro – $3.50 per user per month
  • Team – $5 per user per month

Trial period

14 days

12. Any.do

Any.do time blocking appIf you are in the market for a simple combination of a to-do list and a calendar, any.do is a great choice for you. This straightforward app allows time blocking through limited timed sessions. The platform isn’t built exclusively for business purposes and has several features for personal use.

Features

  • Calendar with task and progress overview
  • Multiple device synchronization
  • Timed sessions for specific tasks

Pricing:

Free

  • 1 month – $5.99 per user
  • 6 months – $4.49 per user per month
  • 12 months – $2.99 per user per month

Trial period

No information

13. Timecamp

Timecamp time blocking

Timecamp is one of the most popular time tracking platforms currently on the market. While it isn’t primarily geared toward time blocking, it offers precise task time estimates and an automatic tracker which you can use to create time blocks dedicated to specific tasks.

Features:

  • Automatic timesheets with high accuracy
  • Color-coordinated weekly view
  • Tags for task organization

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Basic – $5.25 per user per month
  • Pro – $7.50 per user per month
  • Enterprise – custom plan

Trial period

14 days

14. Google calendar

Google calendar time blocking apps

Google Calendar is one of the most straightforward time blocking planners. The interface is user-friendly and the platform allows users to plan their days ahead of time, including deep work scheduling. You can also manage your meetings and different appointment and get due reminders.

Features:

  • Very simple and intuitive
  • An in-depth overview of your time blocking
  • Collaboration with other team members with shared calendars

Pricing:

  • Free

15. Hourstack

HourStack

Hourstack is a time blocking software solution that adjusts to the users’ workflow. The app focuses on comparing estimated and realistic hours needed to complete a task. As we have already mentioned, understanding how long a task takes is the basis for successful time blocking. Thus, Hourstack is a good solution if that is your goal.

Features:

  • Insight into the way employees arrange their work duties during the day
  • Simple and user-friendly interface
  • Integrations with the biggest task management tools on the market

Pricing:

  • Personal – $12 per month
  • Team – $15 per user per month

Trial period

14 days

16. Sunsama

Sunsama time blocking apps

Sunsama is another super-simple time blocking solution. The platform allows users to create tasks for the upcoming day and estimate the time they’ll be dedicating to said tasks. In other words, time blocking is the way the software starts your day.

Features:

  • Daily time blocking before starting your work
  • A drag-and-drop feature that connects to Google Calendar and Outlook
  • Integrations with the most popular task management platforms

Pricing:

  • $20 per month
  • Teams with over 50 members – custom plan

Trial period

14 days

17. Todoist

Todoist time blocking app

Todoist is a straightforward task managing program. It is a good solution if you don’t want to complicate your processes. However, time blocking isn’t its primary purpose. Rather, the platform is a good way to plan your time blocks in advance. If you have trouble setting your tasks up, it can be a great additional tool.

Features:

  • Creating and managing tasks
  • Labeling and filtering entries
  • Subtasks, priority, and delegation management

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Pro – $4 per user per month
  • Business – $6 per user per month

Trial period

30 days

18. Asana

Asana

Asana is one of the most popular time management platforms currently. This giant allows time blocking within your weekly and monthly views, as well as many tagging and marking options. If you are still looking for something more, you can find add-ons that will refine your time blocking process.

Features:

  • Gannt chart-based timelines
  • Shared team calendar to keep the whole team on the same page
  • A plethora of applications that can integrate with the software

Pricing:

  • Basic – free
  • Premium – $13.49 per user per month
  • Business – $24.99 per user per month
  • Enterprise – custom plan

Trial period

Available

19. Weekly

Weekly time blocking

This Office 365 calendar add-on is a great solution if you plan to restructure your workdays. It allows you to arrange your existing tasks and obligations and gain more control over your workweek. The software offers simple task rescheduling and offers more flexibility than the average time blocking app.

Features:

  • Integration with Office 365 calendar
  • Daily, weekly, and view by the task
  • A great degree of flexibility

Pricing:

  • Free

To conclude

Time blocking is a good way to understand your work rhythm and match it to your daily schedule. However, most people are bound to make at least some mistakes before they get used to practicing it efficiently.

Our most important piece of advice is to not let missteps discourage you from continuing with time blocking. Combining this practice with time tracking, to-do lists or other productivity tools is a good way to get used to it.

Additionally, allow yourself some flexibility in the beginning and see how strict your workflow can get. Some people simply work better with more discipline, while others need some wiggle room. The goal of time blocking isn’t to trap you in a routine, but to increase your productivity.

In other words, don’t let time blocking control you. Take the reins and make sure to accommodate yourself above all.

 

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How to Do a Successful Time Audit

How to Do a Successful Time Audit

November 9, 2021

Up to a third of work, time goes to waste every week. Even though this number may seem unrealistic, studies show that the problems of unregulated time and distractions take a great toll on many businesses.

We need to be clear – you cannot expect your employees to work for full eight hours. Breaks and low-volume periods are necessary throughout the day for your team to remain productive and happy. Otherwise, you will cause resentment and a great degree of turnover.

However, some individuals will abuse your goodwill and become too unproductive if you allow them to manage their time at work without any supervision.

Managers and higher-ups are also included in this statistic. It is easy to get overwhelmed by low-priority tasks. You need to remember your team relies on you for guidance. Additionally, you will be held accountable if project profitability is lower than expected.

No matter how you view it, wasting time can hurt a business. Fortunately, there is a way to reduce time-wasting and obtain a balance within your team. That means removing distractions and unproductive behaviors while still allowing your team some space to breathe and recharge.

The secret lies within one of the best time tracking practices – regular time audits.

The Basics of a Time Management Audit

Even though the name may seem intimidating, the practice of time auditing is quite simple. It requires employees to track their time down to the detail for a period.

Once a person sees exactly how they spend their workdays, they can identify their priorities. Then they can organize their time during the day more efficiently. For example, they can match their biggest priorities with the intervals when they’re being most productive. In other words, every person has their own work rhythm. Thus, imposing a detailed work schedule can prevent an employee from fulfilling their potential.

Unfortunately, many people don’t discover their work rhythms throughout their education, as they can’t choose the time of their classes. In other words, you will be able to help them learn how to be more productive and learn where their strengths lie.

The Reasons for a Time Audit for Employees

Many people don’t want to waste time at work. Whether it’s coming from an intrinsic desire to accomplish more or because they start comparing themselves to their coworkers, most employees don’t have anything against being more productive.

However, many of them cannot manage to actually increase their billable hours. There are many signs that a time audit is necessary, including, but not limited to

  • Not being able to finish your tasks without help
  • Procrastination until the last moment
  • Being constantly overwhelmed with work with low results
  • The feeling of being unable to manage your time and priorities
  • Running out of time on your projects

The truth is that most people aren’t mindful of the flow of their workday. Of course, having a set plan that doesn’t allow any flexibility is not the perfect solution. It can be stressful and discourage the employee, as some days will be less productive and demand a change of plans. However, high productivity requires a certain level of routine and an understanding of how you work.

The Benefits of Time Audits

Time tracking in and of itself has a plethora of benefits. Some of the biggest ones include the results of time audits – understanding your own and your team’s work habits and applying that knowledge to make the most out of your time. The lack of this understanding leads to the following consequences:

  • Inadequate time distribution
  • Your targets remain out of your reach
  • Low productivity

An hours tracker that helps you conduct a time audit successfully can resolve these issues.

Time Management

Whether on a personal or team level, knowing how to manage your time and use the most productive periods to tackle the most difficult issues is a crucial component of success.

A time audit will help each employee identify these productivity spikes. Then you can use this knowledge and dedicate them to completing high-priority tasks. On the other hand, you can use the lulls to take a break, reenergize and complete less demanding tasks.

Achieving Goals

Allocating time and resources realistically is the best way to reach your goals in time. Knowing how much time you actually have during each day will help you prevent burnout. Don’t forget – you should also set the goals more favorably.

A time audit will enable you to account for breaks and lower productivity periods when making estimates. This, in turn, will reduce the stress on your team and yourself, which also has a positive impact.

Raise Productivity

Distractions can be very insidious, in the sense that you need to identify them as such before you realize just how big of an impact they have on your work. Eliminating or reducing these elements will help you boost your productivity and reduce the need to shift from one activity to the other.

When to Audit Time?

Secondly, you need to decide when to do the audit. You shouldn’t conduct it during a period with an unusually high or low volume of tasks – before you go on vacation while working on a crucial part of a large project, there’s a lull in tasks for different reasons, etc.

Otherwise, your results won’t be realistic, since they won’t reflect the usual amount of work, and, thus, your average work rhythm. You want to audit a period with average working hours, at least for the first time, so you can set a benchmark for yourself.

How to Conduct a Time Audit?

Creating a Worksheet

Creating a time audit worksheet is the first step of conducting an efficient time audit. This is how you’ll log which activities you spend your time on during the day. The chart can be as simple as an Excel sheet, and as detailed as you need it to be.

The worksheet should contain different categories of tasks and activities you do during the day. This is a way to filter through your total activities and see how much time each of them takes. The categories should include breaks (mandated lunch breaks and otherwise) as well.

Be aware of the fact that the categories shouldn’t be set in stone. In fact, they will probably change over time as you discover different types of activities you encounter on your average day.

Measuring Time

You need to decide whether you’ll be using an automatic timer,  time tracking software, or a manual (i.e. phone) alarm. Accurately measuring the time each task takes is the basis of a time audit. You need to be aware that you probably won’t measure time perfectly, and should allow yourself a small margin for error.

However, if you want to be as accurate as possible, it would be good to start measuring the time a week before you conduct the audit. This way you’ll create a habit of switching your timers as you go from one task to another, which can be a learning curve if you start practicing it at the same time as the audit commences.

Automate the Audit (Optional)

You can make the audit a little easier for yourself by setting up periodical reminders on your device. You can set up the alarms in 15-minute intervals at least, but their frequency heavily depends on the type of work you do.

Once your alarm rings, you can either log your current activity into the time audit worksheet or reset the task timer, depending on your situation.

This method is especially convenient for remote time tracking, as remote employees don’t have their coworkers around to remind them to track their activity.

Take as Little Time as Possible

The audit shouldn’t take much time. That is why the practice run is important. When the alarm rings you should only take the time to note your activity and continue with your work.

Be Truthful

It is important to be as accurate as possible. This honesty doesn’t always feel good. For example, you may find yourself logging ”Social media” one too many times in a row. However, this honesty serves as a wake-up call.

Distractors are just that – distracting, and they make most people lose track of time. Identifying the problem leads to solving it.

Be Consistent

A single day of detailed tracking can give you a lot of information. Yet, you won’t be able to recognize the unproductive patterns that bring your company’s key performance indicators down if you aren’t consistent.

A larger amount of data is surely going to give you a more accurate insight into your habits. That is why it is important to do the audit for at least a week before drawing conclusions.

What to Do Once You’ve Collected the Data?

After you gather the data you’ll have a representation of the time different tasks take to complete. However, having the data isn’t enough. You need to plan actionable steps to start resolving the problematic behaviors you’ve discovered.

Differentiate High and Low Priority Activities

This is the first step you should take. All the tasks you’ve listed can be characterized as either high or low priority. Low priority tasks encompass unproductive behaviors, like

  • Scrolling social media
  • Playing games on your computer or phone
  • Taking unnecessary breaks

On the other hand, there are necessary activities that take too much time, like discussions with coworkers and checking emails.

The difference between these two groups is that you should strive to eliminate the first category and appoint a certain period to the other.

On the other hand, there are high-priority activities, which directly contribute to task completion. They also include research and meetings, as these activities are necessary for the company to function.

Adjust to Your Work Rhythm

Now you have accurate information about how you spend your time and about your top priority tasks. It is time to combine these two and create a working schedule for yourself. Time your more demanding and high-priority tasks at the times when you’re usually more productive. In contrast, you should leave the low-priority activities for the times when your productivity decreases.

This way you won’t be forcing yourself to power through the unproductive patches. Instead, you can take this time to answer emails and catch up with your coworkers.

These schedules should allow for some flexibility, as many factors can disrupt your daily obligations. Their primary purpose is to provide a guideline for an average day.

Limit time-wasting activities

Once you identify your most common distractors, it’s time to get them under control. Completely eliminating social media or phone use is probably not going to work, as you probably partake in these activities spontaneously throughout the day. Some companies will prevent accessing social media and work-unrelated sites. Others will let their employees browse the web as long as the work gets done in time.

Regulating your online time is difficult, and you should first start with being more mindful about the time you spend on your phone. This awareness, as well as the attempt to get a stronger hold on your work hours, should help you reduce the time you spend on unproductive behaviors.

Delegate and Rearrange Tasks

An honest time audit is a great way to discover whether everyone is pulling their own weight. If the results show that some employees are working on tasks that aren’t in their job descriptions, while others slack on theirs. In this case, the management should take the time to delegate these activities or start compensating the employees accordingly.

On a personal level, anyone can benefit from either breaking up long blocks of time dedicated to a single task or adding up multiple similar smaller tasks if the situation allows it. This way you won’t get overwhelmed or lose your focus multiple times a day.

Divide and Conquer

Large projects that take a lot of time to complete often seem very frightening. This is normal and can be managed. We suggest dividing the bigger tasks into smaller ones and resolving them part by part.

This way you will know exactly where you are and how long it’ll take you to complete the full task. Additionally, the smaller parts will make the project seem more manageable. You will be able to cross them off your to-do list relatively quickly, which will give you a sense of accomplishment.

Understand the Time Your Projects Take

Unfortunately, most people have the habit of underestimating the time needed for their tasks. It is important to account for everything that goes into a project before making a time estimation.

It would be good to assess the time you will need for a certain task or project. Once the activity is completed, compare your expectations to reality.

Then you can realistically allocate your time to different projects by priority. Go into as much detail as necessary, and remember that fluctuations in productivity are a normal part of work.

Additionally, restructuring your workday isn’t a simple task, and may take some time to get used to. However, once the results start coming in, and you become more productive, that will be a great incentive to continue using the system.

You can ease the growing pains by setting up reminders or teaming up with a colleague to make sure you are keeping up with the schedule you’ve set up for yourself.

A time audit is obsolete if you cannot reap its benefits. This, however, is possible only if you keep using the knowledge you’ve gained and building upon it.

 

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Paid Time Off Policy and Guides

Paid Time Off Policy and Guides

November 7, 2021

European countries, like France, Italy, and Germany, usually guarantee between 20 and 30 paid days off per year. But, the USA does not have a national requirement for paid holidays, paid sick days, or vacation days.  Instead of that, companies in the USA rely on creating their own PTO policies. So, what exactly is paid time off?

What is PTO policy?

Paid time off (also known as PTO or personal time off) is actually the time you get paid when you are not working. In other words, paid time off is personal time that employees spend outside the office (and not working) while still receiving a salary. Companies may use this term instead of annual leave, personal leave, sick leave, or other conditions. PTO policy is all paid leave grouped into a predetermined number of days.  That means that the PTO policy allows employees to use the time they need for sick leave, vacation, or other personal needs.

How does PTO work?

To avoid setting a certain number of vacation days, a certain number of sick days, and a certain number of days for other personal needs, employers create a unique PTO policy for each employee.

Traditional leave policies typically give employees 30 paid days off per year – 10 days of paid leave, 8 sick days, 2 personal days, plus 10 paid holidays, while many PTO policies give employees between 15 and 20 days plus holidays celebrated by the company.

What are the types of PTO leave?

There are various reasons why employees would like to take a break from work. It can be a vacation, maternity (paternity), bereavement, sickness, or personal time. Determining what type of time off you will take is easier if there is already a category for it. As an example, a category of maternity leaves, if your country provides 180 days of maternity leave.

What are the common types of PTO/leave?

  • Vacation leave – a certain number of days that employees are allowed to use when they want a few days for holidays or travel
  • Sick leave – a standard type of leave given to employees to use then when they are sick, and sometimes requires Medical Certificate by the organization
  • Maternity / Paternity Leave – leave granted to a woman/man for when they become mother/father
  • Personal leave – leave granted for personal work of employees, such as attending meetings, appointments, and other personal works
  • Study leave – paid leave given to an employee for the purpose of education related to the current job
  • Bereavement leave –leave granted to employees that can be used during periods of grieving, such as the death of a loved one in life

The Pros and Cons of a Paid Time Off Policy – PTO

Advantages

PTO benefits not only the employee but also has great benefits for the employer.

Benefits for employee

  1. Flexibility – PTO provides employees with flexibility, i.e. they can use the time at their own discretion, in order to set a balance between work and private life. In doing so, they do not have to ask for permission.
  2. Improve productivity – PTO will maintain high productivity because it gives employees the opportunity to take a break from work when needed. This will allow them to be less stressed and will result in increased productivity.
  3. Higher morale – PTO ensures that employees feel valuable to the company. They will be focused on the job and will have a more positive attitude towards their job.
  4. Prevent burnout – PTO can help reduce employee burnout.
  5. Reduced unplanned absenteeism – employees can schedule appointments and plan a personal business in advance, as they have the option to take paid time off when they need it. This also benefits employers, as they have increased predictability of resource availability.

Benefits for employers

  1. Lower administrative costs – with PTO i.e. when you combine sick days and vacations, your human resources department will spend less time tracking the time of each employee. You simply have to note whether the employee was in the office that day, the reason for absence is irrelevant.
  2. Lower costs – Unplanned absences can lead to a loss of company revenue. But with PTO, you generally don’t have to think about it.
  3. Employee care – PTO policies indicate to your employees how much you care about their work-life balance and the future of your business.
  4. Planning ahead – since employees can take days off when they need them, there is less risk of unscheduled absences. Employers know what resources are available to them so they can plan and allocate work ahead of time.
  5. Mutual trust – empowering employees to use their time off when and how they want builds mutual trust between the employer and the employee.

Disadvantages

  1. Higher scope of requests – according to the PTO policy, employees may take more days off, which may affect the schedule or staffing needs.
  2. Less leave – some research shows that employers can give employees fewer total days than they had before.
  3. Sickness – Some employees may come to work even though they are ill, in order to save PTO for longer vacations.

Types of PTO policies

There are three major types of PTO policies: bank, accrued, and unlimited.

PTO banks

PTO bank is the most popular of PTO policies because it is quite simple to track and administer. For this type of policy, the company allocates a fixed number of days to the “bank” of employees’ time off, altogether. There is usually no separation of types of leave (sick, vacation, or personal) and an employee can use his time off as and when required. This policy gives employees clarity about the number of days they can take, along with flexibility in the way they use them. Some companies and organizations allow employees to carry over unused leaves from one year to another.

Accrued PTO

Leave is granted to the employee daily, weekly, or monthly. The number of days an employee can avail leave will depend on or be directly proportional to the length of service of the employee in the organization. Also, this policy allows employees to earn time off according to how much they work. For example, if you work 40 hours a week it is the equivalent of five days off.

Unlimited PTO

Unlimited PTO allows employees to take the free time they need without a certain number of assigned days.  This policy is based on a basis of trust between the employer and the employee, and that the company gives free rein to its employees. Unlimited PTO policy means that there is no limit to how many PTO days an employee can take away, as long as the job is done and that this policy is not abused.  This policy has been widely popularized by startups and technology companies that want to gain a competitive advantage in employment and be attractive to job seekers.

How to calculate PTO

Calculating PTO depends on which accrual rate you decide to use. Based on the accrual method you choose, you can calculate how much time employees accrue each pay period.

time tracking accounting

Common PTO accrual rates

Some of the most common accrual methods are:

  1. Yearly
  2. Hours worked
  3. Daily
  4. Weekly, bi-weekly or monthly

1. Yearly

A yearly accrual rate is the easiest rate to calculate.  It is great for full-time employees who have already worked a full year, as well as for long-term employees. From the total amount of hours (which employee received every year), simply subtract the number of hours an employee wants to take off.

If you do not want your employees to wait for the beginning of a new year to begin accruing paid time off, you can apply some of the following methods.

2. Hours worked

This accrual rate is perfect for part-time employees or hourly employees.  Their time off directly depends on the number of hours they worked.

3. Daily

The requirement for the daily accrual rate is that the employees work full eight-hour shifts. It is ideal for part-time employees if they meet the previous condition.

4. Weekly, bi-weekly or monthly

The weekly accrual rate is the best rate for employees whose work hours vary. A bi-weekly accrual rate is just as easy as it is for a weekly pay cycle — it’s just the payment period lasts two weeks instead of one. If employees are paid monthly, divide the total number of hours they earn per year by 12 months per year.

Facts about PTO per country

Annual leave, or annual vacation, varies greatly from country to country. While some of them give a minimum of a few days, others have established generous vacation policies that grant employees almost a month of annual leave.

USA

U.S. federal law does not provide for paid vacation. Most companies grant between one and three weeks of paid annual leave.

Sweden

In Sweden, employees get five weeks of annual leave, i.e. 25 paid vacation days. During the holiday period from June to August, at least four weeks of annual leave must be granted

India

In India, employees are entitled to 15 paid vacation days per year. The exception is factory workers, who are entitled to 19 days a year.

Australia

Full-time employees are entitled to four weeks of paid annual leave. Shift employees are usually entitled to five weeks of paid annual leave. Unused leave can be accumulated and later used or redeemed.

Brazil

After a year of employment at a job, employees in Brazil are entitled to 30 days of paid leave each year. In addition, employees are granted annual leave compensation equal to one third of their monthly salary.

Russia

In Russia, employees are entitled to an annual paid annual leave of at least 28 calendar days per year of work

UK

According to the Gov.uk, in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks (about 28 days) of annual leave. Employers have the option to determine when vacations can be taken, but if holidays are not used, employers must pay for days not taken.

France

In France, employees receive five weeks of paid leave per year, and they are entitled to paid leave after a month of work. Paid annual leave accumulates only on weekdays. Collective agreements may even provide for additional days off.

Spain

In Spain, annual leave is determined by contract and must last at least 30 days. The vacation schedule is agreed upon between the employer and the employee. Paid vacation days cannot be replaced with financial compensation.

Germany

The minimum number of days off in Germany is 24, but most employees have contracts that provide for 30 days of paid annual leave. Additional leave may be provided to employees who perform intensive or dangerous work.

Italy

The legal minimum for annual leave is 20 days per year. Additional days off can be given to employees depending on the length of service of employees.

Serbia

In Serbia, the minimum duration of annual leave is 20 days. This minimum may be increased on the basis of different criteria, such as working conditions, work experience, education of the employee.

Belgium

Employees in Belgium receive 20 paid days off, although collective agreements may provide for additional days off.

Netherlands

Employees in the Netherlands receive a minimum of 20 paid annual leave per year. However, there are many collective agreements that provide for extended annual leave of up to 32 days.

Poland

In Poland, employees with less than ten years of service receive 20 paid days off, and employees with more than ten years of service are entitled to 26 days.

Wrapping it up

Paid leave is a key piece of any healthy, productive, and attractive workplace.

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