Tracking time theft

Untitled-1Workforce management systems, enabling finger print clocking-on and easy award calculation, are grabbing the attention of restaurateurs keen to tidy up their labour force. By Nicole Azzopardi

It takes about 10 minutes for a payroll officer to roster, edit, authorise and consolidate timesheets manually for each employee per week.

Then there’s the challenge of identifying staff who consistently arrive late or leave early, line managers who schedule employees into overtime, the problem of blowing out your labour force budget and finding ways to minimise overpayment errors.

But these kinds of hospitality headaches are beginning to disappear with a growing trend toward workforce management systems which are allowing restaurateurs to discover how the latest in rostering software can not only take the tedium out of calculating timesheets but also cut down on time theft.

Assistant manager of Sydney-based restaurant Wildfire, Prue Barton, knows  all too well the challenge of efficiently managing an operation with 120 employees, as well as the payroll issues related to a restaurant of that size.

“I’ve done manual rosters over the years and the time saver of using rostering software is enormous,” Barton says.

“A big part of doing manual timesheets involves a lot of chatting and collecting information to find out what staff are doing and where they are at—you’ve got to have all those conversations first before you can complete the roster.”

However, with the introduction of an electronic system Barton says most usual repetition is eliminated.

“If there are staff who need exceptional holidays, or study leave, it’s easy to factor in,” she says. “The system holds all that information and it’s very precise.”

But apart from working out employee salaries, Barton says the system at Wildfire is able to produce a budgeted roster which also calculates how many waiters are scheduled for each shift.

“A lot of the hard work is taken out, the system helps you plan the shift and makes people very accountable and clear,’’ she says.

“We run with a day roster  that people sign on and off manually and we then cross-reference that with the electronic data. It’s a work in progress all week. Then on Monday mornings, we sit down and have a two to three-hour session and do the major output.”

David Kroser, managing director of Riteq, a Sydney-based company specialising in strategic workforce management systems believes his system, known as TimeTEQ, can reduce the time spent on managing each employee’s timesheet from 10 minutes per week to two.

“In the last two years there has been a trend toward people saying ‘I’ve got my front-end sorted, the next issue is the labour force’. People are really starting to embrace labour workforce systems,” he says.

“Labour is an expensive issue and the biggest driving force besides rostering ability is to budget what labour is going to cost.

“This system covers not just attendance and payroll, but it’s also related to the whole budget.”

Kroser says the biggest return on investment, however, lies in the elimination of manually processing award interpretations.

“You may have two people in payroll with 100 employees,” he explains.

“What traditionally happens is they will fax timesheets to head office,  then their uniform, meal allowance and Saturday and Sunday loading needs are to be manually calculated. We streamline that process.”

Riteq also boasts a finger print clocking-on system which helps to avoid time discrepancies and prevents an employee from clocking on for another staff member.

“There’s a real dollar saving in what we call time theft. We’ve seen clients save as much as seven per cent of the cost of their labour force,” he says.

“If you are pro-active about managing time on a daily basis, overall attendance will improve.

“By keeping employees accountable and eliminating buddy punching through fingerprint recognition technology, it is feasible to estimate a saving of 10 minutes for 50 per cent of your employees per week.”

According to Kroser, TimeTEQ provides the tools required to manage labour in all restaurant departments.

A key performance indicator-driven rostering budget also ensures supervisors become more accountable for building and maintaining rosters.

“Real time costing snapshots allow for pro-active management in an environment such as a restaurant or bar, where casual staff can be knocked off early to maintain labour costs within budget,” he says.

“The system will also warn of employees who may be rostered into overtime or who may be working overtime,’’ Kroser claims.

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