As we discussed in our last post, employers are solely responsible for ensuring their employees take their designated meal and rest breaks (particularly their meal break during which they are to be relieved of all duties). Aside from making certain this happens, employers are additionally responsible for accurately managing and tracking employee time, something that has become even more of a challenge with so many employees working remotely.
While it is important to have a usable time reporting system in place, it is equally important to make sure that your employees know what is expected of them with regards to tracking time accurately. Regardless of the method used (e.g., an elaborate software program, or Quickbooks and simple spreadsheets for tracking time), when you have multiple employees, it can be near impossible to keep track of every “in” and “out” and managing time worked in addition to sick leave, vacation, emergency sick leave, holiday pay, etc. can create an incredible amount of frustration.
How do you make your time management process as streamlined and user-friendly as possible? How do you establish compliant and effective practices that ensure accuracy and honesty?
- Utilize a Simple System – Dependent on your company size, don’t over complicate things by using software that is too complex and cumbersome. The easier it is for employees to use, the easier it will be to ensure accuracy. Your system should easily integrate with daily operations and should simplify administrative tasks.
- Communicate Policies and Practices – In new hire orientation and regularly or as necessitated by circumstances, communicate your organization’s policies surrounding your time keeping system and process. Walk new employees step-by-step through how to track their time accurately, including meal and rest periods and the type of pay (e.g., straight pay, overtime, holiday pay, PTO, etc.).
- Establish Expectations – In addition to communicating policies, clearly communicate what you expect out of your employees with regards to time tracking, including: honesty and accuracy in record keeping, submission of timecards, and consequences for not following company policy, including potential disciplinary action.
- Hold Employees Accountable – Especially in Oregon, with employers being held strictly liable for ensuring employees take their meal and rest breaks, it is important to bring the hammer down when necessary to make certain policies are adhered to. Dishonesty in record keeping is a terminable offense in many organizations, and making those expectations known early on, and following through on consequences can prevent issues down the road.
Record keeping doesn’t have to be a burdensome task. By implementing the right process for your company, communicating practices and expectations, and holding your employees accountable, time management can be easy and simple. Contact us today for questions regarding any unique situations you may have, or for help in reviewing and updating your current policies for efficiency and compliance.
Ensuring employees adhere to state and federal mandates surrounding meal and rest periods is incredibly important during optimal times. It is crucial now more than ever with so many employees working remotely that managers hold their employees accountable for taking their required meal and rest periods and are documenting such breaks accordingly, and that such time worked is appropriately compensated.
When it comes to managing teleworking employees, it is vital to ensure compliance with federal, and state, and local wage and hour laws which are different depending on the classification of your employees:
Exempt employees must be paid for the entire workweek during which they perform any amount of work as their “primary duty” for the employer. PTO or vacation/sick may be taken in full or half day increments (depending on your internal policies), but the employee’s full salary must be compensated for that workweek if they have performed any work. If an employee performs NO work for the employer, the full week may be taken off as unpaid as in compliance with organizational policies. It is additionally important to note that exempt employees must still be paid their full, weekly salaries for absences taken at the employer’s discretion or based on operational requirements.
In addition to communicating expectations and reiterating your internal policies regarding meal and rest periods, strongly encourage your exempt employees to work their regularly scheduled hours if possible.
Generally, nonexempt employees must be compensated for any and all work performed during the workweek. The schedules of nonexempt employees may be reduced due to a decrease in demand or due to closures, with pay reflecting that cut accordingly. The biggest thing to focus on with nonexempt employees is ensuring that time is logged and monitored accordingly and in compliance with federal, state, and local wage and hour laws. Consider the following to make certain no violations arise:
- Depending on the time tracking system your organization uses, many remote employees do not have access to a physical time punching system. While it is ideal if you have software that provides online access, what do you do if you don’t have that type of system? A simple spreadsheet to be submitted daily, indicating when an employee punches in and out throughout the day is one common method.
- Alternatively, have your employees email you when they start their day, communicating expectations of when meal and rest breaks are to be taken and logged, with these emails and entries being logged and monitored closely.
- Communicate to your employees your policy on meal and rest breaks, ensuring that laws and expectations are outlined and understood. CLEARLY communicate that all hours worked when working remotely must be logged accurately.
- Additionally, communicate your policy on the use of overtime, particularly the authorization (or prohibiting unauthorized) of working overtime.
Contact us if you have any questions on regulations that may apply to your organization, or for assistance on implementing a policy on meal and rest periods or a system for effective time tracking.
Last week we discussed some of the various ways to help keep your employees motivated and engaged. We often work with employees who have personalities very different from our own, or have to deal with those who need a little extra push in the right direction when it comes to motivation.
As a manager it is imperative to learn what makes these employees tick to determine what encourages them to do a good job. Here are some factors that may be the key in making your unmotivated employees encouraged and engaged.
Some employees are goal-oriented and enjoy challenges that will sharpen their skills. You can often load these people with several short and long-term goals simultaneously. Motivate them by constantly introducing new tasks that build upon the ones they are currently working on.
These employees want influence and control, need to feel important, and like being in the spotlight. They express an interest in leadership roles and are highly motivated by special privileges or perks. Treat these employees like in-house experts and frequently ask them for advice (within reason). They will instantly be motivated because they savor the chance to offer information.
Easily motivated, this group wants to feel a sense of camaraderie. Allow them to build rapport with their coworkers. Create meetings where they can collaborate and share ideas, rather than just sit and listen to a lecture. If you satisfy their need for affiliation, they will give you a solid effort.
If you attempt to manage an employee who seeks autonomy and strongly values their independence too closely, you’ll kill their desire to excel. The best way to connect with what motivates these freedom seekers is to give them overriding goals and let them find the best way to get the results.
Some employees simply want a little respect. If you listen to them, they’ll feel more motivated. You need to give them full attention while listening, or they will feel disrespected. They love to hear praise and feedback on their performance and have a deep need for esteem. Give it to them and they will be motivated.
Everyone likes a fair, unbiased boss, but some individuals see the world as either black or white. They weigh and measure everything to make sure everyone is treated the same. They will pick up on inconsistencies and decisions that appear to vary from previous occasions. Approach them as if you were a lawyer and give them objective evidence to prove that you are fair and equitable.
Always keep in mind that each employee is a unique individual and what may work for one person won’t necessarily work for the other. Be observant and learn what makes them tick. Some employees are motivated by power and praise, another may just want some respect and to have their voice heard. Take the time to learn what you can do to help each employee succeed and reap the rewards of more engaged, productive, and an overall happier team.
Last month, we focused on fostering relationships with your subordinates, including tips on how to get the most out of your subordinate managers. While communication is at the forefront of ways to foster and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with your team, some employees are motivated by other means. How do you motivate and engage all employees, especially those who struggle with self-motivation or have personalities that are vastly different than yours?
Communicate – If your employees don’t know specifically what you
want out of them, how can you expect them to perform at a satisfactory level? Communicate
your expectations, whether that be the functions of their job, performance
standards, or behavioral factors that they can work on. Communication should
always be a two-way street. Give and receive feedback in a way that is
productive and mutually beneficial.
Lead by Example – The “Golden Rule” applies to the workplace just
as much as it did to the schoolyard as children. The simple concept of treating
others as you’d like to be treated means so much when applied in a work
setting. Work on creating this kind of environment for your employees. Put
yourself in their shoes and work in a way that would make them want to give
back and put forth an effort, and
Be Fair and Consistent – Everyone
likes a fair, unbiased boss. Apply policies and procedures the same across the
board, and try not to play favorites when administering rewards or discipline.
Many employees get discouraged when treatment is unequitable and when favoritism
abounds. Really focus on how inequitable treatment affects others and be deliberate
and unbiased with how you assign tasks and deliver praise and criticism.
Provide Opportunities for Growth – Many employees will respond well to an opportunity to obtain training.
Use training and other learning opportunities as incentives for fine work.
Select your most diligent or outstanding employees to attend outside seminars
and conferences where they can pick up new job skills and spend time mentoring
a dedicated employee for an hour or two a week as a reward for excellent
While these are all great starting points to
apply to ensure engagement with your managers and employees, follow along in our
next post as we go even further and discuss various proven motivational techniques
to implement with each individual employee.
Karen has been a supervisor of the nursing team at a local
community clinic for nearly a year. Though her medical skills and experience
are exemplary, she has struggled with her employee relations skills. Recently,
her employees have started to slack in some of their admin-related duties and
they have begun to show a lack of enthusiasm in daily tasks and special
Unsure why this lack of engagement was occurring, Karen
spoke with her manager and was informed that her employees have been increasingly
frustrated with her micromanagement and demands for perfection, resulting in her
team feeling that their work was not appreciated or valued. Karen was surprised
by this and was shocked that no one had come to her to voice their concerns
with her management style.
Karen’s manager realized that she should have spoken with
Karen much sooner in an attempt to coach her on effective communication and
managerial techniques to ensure less discord and more productivity within her
team. There is so often a focus as managers to coach and correct the behaviors
of our employees, but it is important to not overlook those subordinate
managers who those employees interact with on a daily basis.
Mid-level managers are often the lifeline between employees
and upper management (those who make the rules and set the expectations). These
supervisors need to be regularly communicated with about the expectations of
their jobs and provided with feedback regarding their performance as an
individual and as a leader of their team. As a result of a lack of this, Karen’s
team was disconnected and there was a general feeling of frustration amongst
the staff members.
Take the time to meet with each manager individually to go
over these expectations, to offer both positive and constructive feedback, and
to allow for two-way communication. Provide them with the opportunity to convey
to you their needs and goals for their team and work together to come up with a
plan to help them achieve these objectives in ways that prove to be mutually
beneficial to their personal development, to the team, and the organization as
Making this type of regular and effective communication with
your managers a priority can snowball (in a good way!) and can lead to improved
job satisfaction, fosters feelings of mutual respect and trust, can enhance
positive work environments, and encourages team collaboration and camaraderie.